Several writers have commented that the death of Edwin Morgan marks the end of a generation of highly distinguished Scottish poets – Hugh MacDiarmid, Sorley MacLean, Norman MacCaig, Iain Crichton Smith, George Mackay Brown, and Eddie himself. Some of them were close friends, all knew each other, and some had more peripheral relationships. They were never a single group, a single movement. They wrote on different subjects, had different preoccupations and passions, and were stylistically as varied as their personalities. What united them, distinguished them, if you will, was the quality of their work, and the influences that high quality produced in the work of other poets writing at the same time, and on succeeding writers.
My question then is: is there a new generation to follow on? Do we have a cadre of today’s Scottish poets who share that recognised difference of quality that distinguishes them from the majority? I’m not looking for a list here, because these are often arbitrary and subjective, and sometimes insulting. Too often such lists reflect factional and/or fashionable interests – who’s ‘in’ and who’s ‘out’, and I hate that sort of thing. I’m suggesting that maybe social fragmentation and changes in the way literature impinges on our national awareness militate against the emergence of a new generation comparable to the one which has now undoubtedly passed.