Here is truth that we need to hear and confront in this viral age. Gordon Munro finds it in new work by Ben Okri and Marianne Faithfull
Books & Poetry
‘Germany, even if one goes as far back as Bismarck and 1871, is a relatively young country and, in its latest iteration, highly attractive to a lot of Europe’s youth. It does offer, then, a model for any nascent Scottish republic: open, tolerant, European, nationalist in a civic, secular sense. But, as its friends, including Kampfner, acknowledge, it faces significant challenges now and in future.’
As Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP see increasingly solid pro-independence majorities in successive polls, their case for an independent Scotland has gone missing: a book review.
‘His life-story has contemporary resonances, with the resurgence of the far right and what the French call fascisant mentality along with nativist protectionism in response to both pandemic and economic collapse. From his school days, Cairncross was a firm believer in (Scottish) Enlightenment values; he remained an exemplar of Davie’s Democratic Intellect.’
Edwin Morgan became Scotland’s first makar in 2004: a tribute to him on his centenary from his biographer. ‘He was an acrobat of words and identities. Perhaps his own identity as a gay man, risking censure or imprisonment through most of his life, encouraged that ability to shape-shift.’
What message do extravagant fireworks displays send in an age of climate emergency and conflict? Fay Young chooses a poem for peace at New Year instead
A selection of five poems for this general election in hard times. To shine a light on our better nature, to remember how many different people are responding to the urgent issues of 2019 with human kindness, concern, and courageous conscience.
For Nadine Aisha Jassat, poetry is activism. She used to used to whisper, “‘I’m a poet’, now I shout it from the rooftops and help others on their journey to shouting who they are, too.”
‘Makar: Stewart Conn prefers “that term’s more egalitarian ring than ‘laureate’, with its whiff of Parnassus.” Down on the ground, a poet among people not stuck up, high on the Mountain of Muses.’
Claire Askew’s delightful poem, is it escape or reality? Thanks to the noxious ill wind of Brexit, it seems, there’s a new demand for words with meaning, or meaningful ambiguity. Where better to find it than Best Scottish Poetry.