Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scotland's Makar

Now that Edwin Morgan's gone, who would wear the shining crown of Scotland's Makar? I've been away 12 years, & my memory's slightly rustier, but a few candidates & strong contenders spring to mind. Douglas Dunn, Kenneth White & Stewart Conn stand out for me from the 'older' set. Maybe a 'younger' face, such as Don Paterson, Kathleen Jamie, Matthew Fitt, James Robertson or Robert Alan Jamieson. A Gaelic poet would no doubt be controversial but perfectly apt, & maybe a better idea, in my opinion, someone like Aonghas MacNeacail, Crisdean MhicIlleBhain, Meg Bateman or Aonghas Phàdraig Caimbeul. A lot of it's down, of course, to face-fitting (an unusual but not unheard-of skill in some French hospitals), politics, media-savviness, personal promotion & actual location - some of the above don't live in Scotland, or even the UK. If Morgan's a good early example, then a high talent ought to be an obvious pre-requisite, & gender, sexuality & a remote location ought not to be barriers.

We'll all have our favourites, of course, & better poets won't come into consideration for this reason or that dressed up as something else. Me? I'd have Dunn. I rank some of his poetry among the finest written by a Scottish poet in the last half century. Oh, & he's a decent bloke too.


Day by nomadic day
Our anniversaries go by,
Dates anchored in an inner sky,
To utmost ground, interior clay.
It was September blue
When I walked with you first, my love,
In Roukenglen and Kelvingrove,
Inchinnan's beech-wood avenue.
That day will still exist
Long after I have joined you where
Rings radiate the dusty air
And bangles bind each powdered wrist.
Here comes that day again.
What shall I do? Instruct me, dear,
Longanimous encourager,
Sweet soul in the athletic rain
And wife now to the weather.

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