Literary Essays

Edinburgh in the 1960s was poetically a very active city; the 'Scottish Renaissance', the first generation of poets after Hugh MacDiarmid, was extremely productive, and the poets could often be found in certain well-known pubs, notably Sandy Bell's, Milne's Bar and Paddy's Bar. To have a problem with alcohol in those days was virtually a poetic badge of office. The established poets were easy to meet, and on the whole generous to a newcomer. (There were exceptions.) Robert Garioch and Ian Hamilton Finlay were the ones I knew best, and from them I got my first glimpse of what it meant to be a committed literary artist.

I have written at different times about many of this talented generation of Scottish poets. Non-Scottish poets I have reviewed more widely, particularly for
Poetry London between 1998 and 2008 when Scott Verner was the reviews editor. Of my near-contemporaries, I have admired most the American poet Richard Wilbur. I present a short essay about him as a sample.