Playing With Words by Gordon B. Birrel.

Designed by
Jeremy Thornton
2003, chapbook, 36 pages

More Playing With Words

More Playing With Words by Gordon B. Birrel.

Designed by
Jeremy Thornton
2004, chapbook, 48 pages

How could I judge the sensitivity of my ear, my timing, the soundness of my ideas unless I put them on paper?

– Gordon Birrel

Poetry Books by Gordon B. Birrel


Too much talk
Over the Eve
Myth; too little
Tasting of delicate,

– from Gordon B. Birrel's Playing With Words

My Scottish grandfather, Gordon Brown Birrel, wrote poetry for most of his life, until his death in 1992 at the age of 94. Musty boxes containing hundreds of poems and copies of those poems accompanied him from East Coast to West, eventually ending up in my parents’ garage. There they remained for many years. Apart from a few poems published decades ago, this extraordinary window on my grandfather’s life remained fairly inaccessible and, for all practical purposes, closed to family and friends. There was, however, one notable exception.

In 1984, my grandfather pulled together several of the poems he had written from 1925-1930, wrote a Foreword and gave a stapled set to each of his daughters, Barbara and Evelyn (my mother). That was that . . . until many years later when I—the designated guardian of his crafted word-children—re-collected and printed the poems in two chapbooks.

Through those small booklets, Playing with Words (2003) and More Playing with Words (2005), Gordon Birrel’s family and friends were finally able to open a window onto the life and soul of this man who was so respected and so loved. At last my grandfather’s well-etched life—as veteran of the Great War, pacifist survivor, young husband, loving father, observer of man’s follies, and lover of nature’s beauty—could be glimpsed through his own deftly drafted verses.

As for the role I played in making this happen? Great honor and sheer joy are the words that come immediately to mind.

– Donna Benedetti