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Ethically Speaking

Voice and Values in Modern Scottish Writing

As politics and cultures interact within an increasingly diverse Scotland, and differences in values become more evident across generations, the need for clear understanding and cooperation within and between communities becomes a pressing issue. This relates both to local and larger concerns: language, violence, morality, gender and sexuality, education, ethnicity, truth and lies. The chapters gathered here focus on significant Scottish writers of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, (Edwin Morgan, A.L. Kennedy, Liz Lochhead, John Burnside, Jackie Kay, Robin Jenkins, Muriel Spark, William McIlvanney, Ali Smith, James Kelman and others) and the communities described are certainly Scottish, but the issues raised are universal. Questions are asked about the relationship of the individual to others, and therefore, on a larger scale, about the means through which any community is both constructed and sustained: linguistically, spiritually, ethically.
If their multiple voices evoke a “zigzag of contradictions”, it is at any rate a creative zigzag which discovers, or uncovers, many contradictory aspects of life in modern Scotland that should particularly be brought to light in a re-emergent nation. Ethically speaking, Scottish writers point out the need to attend to many different narratives and retellings, in order that Scots might live more honestly and clear-sightedly with themselves and with the wider world.
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The Star You Steer By

Basil Bunting and British Modernism

This book explores Basil Bunting’s continued reputation and influence in modern British poetry, and also the impact of a peculiarly ‘Northern’ inflection of Modernism (which Bunting largely defined) within the varieties of poetry being written in Britain today. The editors asked a variety of English, Scottish, Welsh and American poets and academics to reflect upon the themes, implications, impact or example of Bunting’s work in the centenary year of his birth, looking back on the beginnings of Modernism at the start of the twentieth century into which he was born, or forward into the twenty-first century in which he continues to be read and learned from: a true poetic star to steer by.
The resulting collection of fourteen new essays reveals the continued ability of Bunting’s poetry both to delight and to challenge. Topics covered include the nature of influence; Celtic and Northumbrian contexts for the modern English long poem; prosodic patterns in early Bunting; Bunting as a reader of his own work; narrative sources in his poetry; the problem of patronage; his ‘rueful masculinity’; women poets and Bunting; radical landscape poetry; his translations from the Persian Hafiz and the Roman Horace; economic and social tensions in his work; the poet as ‘makar’; and a previously unpublished selection of his letters from the 1960s to the 1980s, commenting upon his own and others’ poetry and on the political condition of Britain in those years.
The collection will be of interest to teachers and readers of twentieth century English and American poetry, and to those exploring the processes of literary translation. Contributors include David Annwn, Richard Caddel, Roy Fisher, Victoria Forde, Harry Gilonis, Ian Gregson, Philip Hobsbaum, Parvin Loloi, James McGonigal, Richard Price, Glynn Pursglove, Harriet Tarlo, Gael Turnbull, and Jonathan Williams.
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Sons of Ezra

British Poets and Ezra Pound

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound is about the impact of Ezra Pound upon British poets writing today. It is the story of a presence, then of a voice and latterly of an idea. When Pound left London in 1920 after a stay of 12 years, his early ascendancy had waned, and during the 1930s his voice sounded more remotely in British ears. The first poet represented here, Edwin Morgan, began to read Pound towards the end of that decade. Pound's subsequent political reputation has meant that students now coming to university, born after his death in 1972, have not opened a book of his poems in the way that several who testify here remember doing with pleasure. There was a revival of British interest in Pound with the publication of the Pisan Cantos, and then in the 1960s and early 1970s, but since then there has been little public opportunity for British poets to reflect on Pound. Michael Alexander and James McGonigal invited British poets to whom Pound has meant something to reflect, and to testify. To the older writers he was a presence, but the youngest contributors were born at the time that Pound fell silent about 1960, and to them he is an historical figure, the greatest poetic influence since Wordsworth, whose ambition seems an example to avoid as much as to follow.