I’ve a new review up at Sidekick Books, of Jacket2’s New Scottish Poets anthology, edited by Sandra Alland. I was really pleased to be able to do this in depth review, because I think the anthology’s doing important work at an important time: with the referendum on independence approaching, Scottish arts are focussing inwards, are considering their role, are thinking about their identities; this anthology makes a clear statement for a diverse, plural, complex Scottish poetics. You should read it.
Alland has chosen to select a series of voices-from-outside: queer, disabled, immigrant, and so on. When asked how Scottish their poetry was, her poets “pretty much shrugged”, but Alland sees “the new excitement in Scottish writing” being exactly in this outsider’s view, in a mix of “home-grown and migrant poets” which allows for “flourishing hybrid forms”. Like Alland, and like many of these poets, I too am “from here and not from here” (I grew up in Orkney, but to English parents, and so will always be an incomer to my own home), and so I too am thrilled to encounter a problematic and plural Scottish poetics. Alland and I are both partial in this way – inasmuch as we feel we belong to Scotland, we have to claim a Scottish identity that embraces plurality and the margins. Her introduction seems to imply that this becomes more possible as Scotland “comes into its own” – with its own Parliament, no longer partly identifying as occupied territory, there is less political need for or force behind a hegemonic Scottishness. As we confront the possibility of independence, and as our nationalism continues to assert itself, we are likely to find out just how true that rings.