In the early 1950s Reid went to Mallorca for a holiday and in Deyá happened to meet Robert Graves, who had lived on the island for many years. From 1953 Reid spent part of each year in Deyá, and saw a great deal of Graves, indeed becoming his companion and secretary. Unfortunately for the friendship he fell in love with Margot Callas, Graves’ muse, and they went to Spain - for which Robert never forgave him, thus breaking the connection.
Reid started to write for the New Yorker in the late 50’s and contributed poetry and travel pieces for nearly 40 years. However in the 1960’s he also began to translate South American poets, most notably Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges, becoming friends with both men. Indeed he was greatly responsible for the success of both of these poets in the English language .
Reid’s poetry came back into circulation in Scotland in 1978, when Canongate published Weathering; poems and translations; and then Oases which in 1997 combined poems – including some translations – in a pocket-size hardback, bringing his work across these genres to the attention of a new generation.
The editor, Tom Pow, has done a magnificent job of assembling the crème de la crème of Reid’s verse. Pow is himself a well-known poet. Born in 1950 in Edinburgh, he is the author of twelve collections, including, most recently, At the Well of Love (2016) and A Wild Adventure (2014), the latter a biography, rendered in poetry, of convict forger and illustrator Thomas Watling. He was also a close friend of Alastair Reid.