Last year Colin Waters wrote: “Throw a stone in Edinburgh or Glasgow today and you’ll hit a poet. The Scottish spoken word scene has exploded, reaching a level of popularity last seen in the late 1970s, another era, coincidentally, when the issue of Scottish self-determination was in the air. A generation of poets has emerged who have grown up in an age of change, political and technological, with the internet providing them not only with new ways of sharing writing – through their websites, podcasts, Twitter – but also in some cases with a subject too.”
How would you gauge the strength of such a poetry revival? You could celebrate the re-opening of the Scottish Poetry Library, first conceived by Tessa Ransford in 1984. Like the National Theatre it stands as one of the new contemporary symbols of a more confident cultural place. You could consider that only in 1982 Andrew Motion published a Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry with a solitary Scottish representative in Douglas Dunn. That seems unthinkable now. The work of the likes of Robert Garioch, Norman McCaig, Edwin Morgan, Iain Crichton Smith, Ian Hamilton-Finlay and others might still not have the recognition it deserves but it is sustained and nurtured by a second and third generation of poets from Liz Lochhead to Kathleen Jamie to Carol Ann Duffy to Robert Crawford to Roddy Lumsden and a hundred more. But more than that they are continued and challenged by a whole new mob.