Despite the crucial role played by Scottish poetry in the move towards self-definition and autonomy during the latter half of the 20th century, there has been no specific study dedicated to its evaluation. This text serves to offer a survey of the field, notionally framed by the outbreak of the Second World War and the (re)-opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. Careful attention is given to this poetry's roots in the preceding period, as well as to the broader European context and to the influence of English and North American writers. Adopting a decade-by-decade approach, Christopher Whyte takes a collection by each of 20 significant poets writing in English, Scots and Gaelic as the starting point for an examination of their whole career and of the connections linking them. Poets featured include: Sorley MacLean; Edwin Muir; George Campbell Hay; Sydney Goodsir Smith; Edwin Morgan; Tom Leonard; W.S. Graham; Iain Crichton Smith; Liz Lochhead; Kenneth White; Robert Crawford; Carol Ann Duffy; and Aonghas MacNeacail. Innovative, challenging and frequently controversial, the readings are underpinned by a consistent theoretical sophistication.
Topics covered include language, politics, the nation, gender and sexuality. Highlighting the richness and variety of work produced across six decades, "Modern Scottish Poetry" offers a refreshing and stimulating reassessment of Scottish cultural history at the beginning of the 21st century.
Christopher Whyte was Reader in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. Updated 22/06/2011. Freelance writer lives in Budapest