This year is Burns’ 250th anniversary, and this week the Scottish Poetry is marking the occasion with a number of events.
Tuesday night saw the launch of the above-titled book, an anthology edited by Robert Crawford. It was a grand night, the chance to meet auld freens and to hear good poetry read by good poets. Robert started by reading a poem on Burns’ poetry by the late Mick Imlah (to whom the book is dedicated), from his ‘Lost Leader’ collection. He also read Burns himself, a poem by Liz Lochhead from the book, and a series of his own versions of Cavafy in Scots. David Kinloch read Fergusson, an influence on Burns, and some sections from his own work in the anthology – an imagined encounter with Montale – in Scots. Finally Douglas Dunn read from his long poem English: A Scottish Essay. This was a thoughtful and very interesting piece, which I will read in full later. He also read a shorter poem dedicated to Edna and Michael Longley.
The list of contributors is a who’s who of contemporary Scottish poetry – John Burnside, W N Herbert, Kathleen Jamie, Jackie Kay, Tom Leonard and others. It was great to hear, too, that Polygon intend publishing more poetry this year. We need more publishers.
Sometimes, it’s really nice to celebrate Scottish poets and poetry, with or without an excuse (not that we need one). This was a really good night.
Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, was the full title of Burns’ Kilmarnock edition of 1786.