Book deal shows scribbler on the roof's lofty ambition

Once, you would have had to scale buildings to read his scribblings, hidden among slates and beams.

Now William Letford, a roofer who pens poetry on joists and tiles, has brought his work down to earth.

Letford – who has hidden 30 of his poems in roofs in his hometown of Stirling, central Scotland – will have a wider audience after signing a book deal.

Explaining why he chose roofs for his work, he said: "I love the idea of it not being seen for so long, then discovered along with the measurements and the pencil marks.

"I don't sign them and don't take note of where they are. I didn't plan any of them and and apart from the people I was working with, nobody knew they were up there.

"Many of them are on the joists, where builders traditionally leave their measurements, so I know they will survive. Others are between tiles in the roof voids. I wouldn't imagine any of the poems have been found. You would have to be taking apart the slates or roof to reach them. In 100 years or so it will be incredible if somebody stumbles across them."

He started writing poems as a youngster, his confidence boosted after a teacher forwarded his work to poet Roger McGough.

"In primary school my teacher asked the class to write poems and liked mine so much that she sent it to him," Letford said.

"He wrote back and at the bottom of his letter wrote, 'Keep writing' in capital letters and with exclamation marks. That moment tied me to it. It told me I could do this."

His first book, Bevel, out next November, has a building theme.

The Scottish Book Trust, which gave him a new writer's award in 2008, has called him "one of the most striking and original voices in modern Scottish writing".

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