Calum Rodger, as is customary for perpetually emerging artists, writes his own biographical notes, and always in the third-person. As such, it should be borne in mind that any biases, shortcomings, exaggerations or embellishments in the text which follows are entirely and exclusively the fault of both its writer and its subject, given that both amount to the same thing: namely, me.
Rodger, a Scottish poet, was born in exile in Kent in the autumn of 1985, when the apples hang heavy on the bough and the aisles are erubescent with sundry lustre. After an idyllic early childhood in Bolton, he returned to his spiritual and ancestral home of East Lothian shortly before his tenth birthday, whereupon he immediately self-actualised as a restless embodied intelligence, rent asunder from the innocence of infancy and prey – at times willing, at others less so – to the capricious vicissitudes of desire, curiosity, hope and fear, the navigation of which has been his life’s work ever since. The earliest poems in Rodger’s messy dataset ‘The Lump’, comprising ‘every poem [he’s] ever written ever’, date from shortly after this period.
Educated competently at North Berwick High School, Rodger went on to read English Literature at the University of Glasgow. After a few years teaching English in Japan, Italy and Edinburgh, he returned to his alma mater in 2010 to pursue a Masters in Modernism followed by a PhD in Scottish Literature, focusing on the work of ‘avant-gardener’ Ian Hamilton Finlay. Regrettably, on account of the required intensive unpaid intellectual labour which ultimately serves only to line the pockets of the academic publishing racket and further entrench the neoliberal decline of the university as institution, coupled with the author’s proclivities towards indolence and his glib and arrogant (all the more so for being dangerous and illusory) belief that ‘[he doesn’t] have to prove anything to anyone’, this thesis, brilliant as it is, will never be published. However, some of its arguments can be found in this article.
Rodger’s postgraduate years were a fertile time for his development as a poet, honing his performance craft at open mics throughout Scotland, not least his own reading series ‘The Verse Hearse’ (where poetry comes to die), which he ran with fellow poet Stewart Sanderson 2012-2016. Highlights of this period include the publication of his first pamphlet Know Yr Stuff and a commissioned performance for TEDxGlasgow in 2014. Rodger thrived in the febrility of Scottish cultural life of the period, intoxicated by the since sadly thwarted possibility of self-determination for his home nation. The sobering successive electoral defeats of 2014, 2016 and 2017 found their analogue in Rodger’s professional life as a precarious academic, wherein the stresses of juggling multiple jobs sharpened the sense that the scholarly liberty of his postgraduate years was a halcyon memory never to be regained. Around this time, Rodger departed somewhat from his earlier themes of hedonism and Scottish identity with a move towards exploring the intersections of poetry and videogames, with works such as Rock, Star, North., fiat ontology and PORTS dating from this period. One might conjecture that Rodger’s shift in focus towards the often solipsistic universes of videogames and modernist poetry constitutes a retreat from the world in response to the political and professional disappointments encountered therein, and one would be quite justified to do so. But at the very least Rodger continued to perform and produce new work, culminating in the prize of Scottish Slam Champion 2019, and going on to represent Scotland at the Poetry World Cup in Paris later that year.
With the pandemic of 2020 curtailing any opportunities for performance, Rodger began to explore new avenues for his work, releasing his first computer game, Gotta Eat the Plums! with William Carlos Williams in May 2020. He produced three more games over the following year, including commissions for Book Week Scotland and StAnza, Scotland’s Poetry Festival. He also returned to Rock, Star, North., creating a machinima filmpoem to accompany the piece, which premiered at Push the Boat Out in Edinburgh, November 2021. Galvanised by his small successes in game development, and further catalysed by stress-induced chronic illness and his total and abject disillusionment with academia, Rodger made the decision at the end of 2021 to resign from his various roles and retrain as a software developer, beginning work in this capacity with publisher and media company DC Thomson in the summer of 2022, a role he occupies to this day.
In the meantime, Rodger’s work continues apace, with projects such as lumpCuts exploring AI poetics, and a series of new poems in the ‘performance’ style planned for late summer 2023. Moreover, with the creation of the present website, Rodger looks forward to bringing his new skills in computing to bear on his ongoing research into digital poetics, with a view to publishing new webpoems on this very site in the coming months and years.