A prolific Scottish author and one of the last direct descendants of Robert Burns dashed the hopes of fans yesterday by vowing to “never, ever” release a poetry book.

Miller Caldwell, the four-times great grandson of the great bard, has received more than 500 requests from readers to collate some of the poetry he has published online into a single collection.

His fans, which include those from Australia China and the United States, variously describe his work as “extraordinary” and have long called for it to be made available in paperback.

But Miller, a committee member on the Society of Authors in Scotland (SoAiS), said he had “no intention whatsoever” of bringing the Burns’ name “into literary disrepute”.

The 64-year-old, who has published 17 books and a number of TV scripts since retiring, said his own poetry is a “world away” from the genius of Burns, whose work – including Auld Lang Syne – is celebrated worldwide.

He said it would be an “injustice” to attempt to replicate the success of the 18th-Century lyricist, who is still widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland.

Speaking yesterday from his home in Dumfries, Miller said the commercial success of his existing titles – including The Parrot’s Tale, his latest comedy novel – means a poetry book is “extremely unlikely for the foreseeable future”.

“I am proud to say that I am a direct descendant of the great Robert Burns, a person that would undeniably shape the literary fortunes of Scotland,” he said.

“I, too, am very fond of poetry, and I’m pleased to say that my work in this field has won acclaim.

“However, I have no intention whatsoever of attempting to replicate the success of Robert by publishing an actual collection – regardless of the kind requests of fans.

“Publishing the occasional poem on the web or as part of a novel is another thing altogether, and one that I may continue doing.”

The father-of-two added: “The pressure of releasing a poetry book would be enormous given my family connections.”

Miller’s road to literary success began as a missionary in Africa and, later, as an aid worker in Ghana and Afghanistan. His humanitarian work was recognised in 2002 when he was awarded the Inter Agency Crannog Community Award.

He later won the prestigious Muslim Hands International Award for services to the victims of the Pakistan earthquake.

Following his retirement in 2003, he became a full-time author – including Writer in Residence at Dumfries Prison – and uses his experiences in the field as inspiration.

His latest comedic-crime novel, The Parrot’s Tale, for instance, follows the story of octogenarian Harry Dynes whose pet African parrot escapes.

Miller owned an African Grey parrot in Ghana, while the book’s descriptions of court cases are accurate thanks to his experience as a regional reporter for the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA).

His books, which are published by Netherholm Publications, have gone to sell thousands of copies worldwide and Miller is now a sought-after speaker at book and writing clubs across Scotland.

But in 2009, Miller started publishing “a very small number” of poems on the internet.

Within weeks, he was inundated with requests to publish them as a single collection.

Yet despite the promise of selling “very significant numbers”, Miller says his relationship to Robert Burns is “grounds enough to leave well alone”.

“I’m flattered that such a large volume of people have asked me, but I have always politely declined,” he said.

For more information about Miller Caldwell’s work – and to find links to his poetry – go to www.NetherholmPublications.co.uk

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