Burns Singer Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burns_Singer

Burns Singer (29 August 1928 – 8 September 1964), born James Hyman Singer in New York City.

Early life and education[edit]

Singer was brought up in Scotland from a young age and educated in Glasgow.

Singer had Polish, Jewish, Irish and other ancestry and showed considerable interest in Polish poetry. His collaborative translations of Polish poets included Ignacy Krasicki, Juliusz Słowacki, Cyprian Norwid and Jerzy Peterkiewicz. Some of these appeared in the anthology Five Centuries of Polish Poetry, 1450–1950 (1962), with Peterkiewicz, and a later edition.

Career and marriage[edit]

While in Scotland Singer studied English composition for two terms at the University of Glasgow. Then in 1945, at age 17, Singer moved to London where he taught mathematics at a private school. Next he went to Cornwall where he came into contact with W. S. Graham, a major poetic influence. After the 1951 suicide of his mother he returned to Scotland where he took up work in the marine biology lab in Aberdeen. He had by then spent a year in Marburg and done some service in the United States Army.

Singer then worked for four years in marine biology, supporting his father. In 1955, he married Marie Battle, an African-American psychologist; they moved to London, where he sought freelance work writing. He enjoyed a period of success in literary journalism and as a poet. It is considered that his style was a "middle way" or compromise, between the New Apocalyptics and The Movement, or the Scottish Renaissance and the Sassenach.


He spent some time with Marie in Cambridge, before ultimately returning to marine biology. His early death, in Plymouth, was from a heart attack.


  • Living Silver (1953) - a study of the British fishing industry
  • Still and All (1957) (poems)
  • Five Centuries of Polish Poetry (1962) with Jerzy Peterkiewicz
  • Collected Poems (1970) - posthumously, edited by W. A. S. Keir
  • Selected Poems (1977) - posthumously, edited by Anne Clusenaar
  • Collected Poems (2001) - posthumously, edited by James Keery