Recommend to your Librarian

Modern Scottish Poetry

Christopher Whyte

Paperback (Printed to Order)

Although Scottish poetry gained an increasingly high profile towards the end of the twentieth century, this groundbreaking work is the first book length study of the field. Christopher Whyte takes significant collections by 20 poets writing in English, Scots and Gaelic as the starting point for an examination of their whole career and of the connections between 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, Douglas Dunn, Kathleen Jamie, Carol Ann Duffy and Aonghas MacNeacail.

Whyte argues that concerns with nationalism and national identity have so far shaped our reading of Scottish poetry and that the time has come to set these aside in favour of new approaches where Scottishness will no longer be a dominant concern. His sobering yet balanced reappraisal of the failures and achievements of the interwar period offers a sound basis for the discussion of more contemporary work which follows.

Modern Scottish Poetry is a refreshing and stimulating reassessment of the cultural scene as the new century gets under way. Innovative, challenging and frequently controversial, the readings demonstrate a consistent theoretical sophistication and highlight the richness and variety of work produced across six decades.


  • In depth coverage of each of 20 poets: women poets and gay material included providing lively material for discussion and debate
  • Sums up the critical tradition so far and suggests how it needs to change
  • Ideas put forward are rooted in close reading of specific poems
  • Basic bibliographical information (main edition, secondary literature) for each author plus an invitation to further exploration and research


1 Scottishness and Scottish Poetry
2 Alternative Approaches
3 The Story So Far
4 The 1940s (Sorley MacLean / Somhairle MacGill-Eain, Edwin Muir,
George Campbell Hay / Deòrsa MacIain Dheòrsa)
5 The 1950s (Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig, Sydney
Goodsir Smith)
6 The 1960s (Robert Garioch, Tom Leonard, Edwin Morgan)
7 The 1970s (W. S. Graham, Derick Thomson, George Mackay Brown)
8 The 1980s (Douglas Dunn, Kenneth White, Liz Lochhead,
Iain Crichton Smith / Iain Mac a' Ghobhainn)
9 The 1990s (Robert Crawford, Kathleen Jamie, Carol Ann Duffy,
Aonghas MacNeacail)
Translation of Epigraphs

About the Author

Christopher Whyte was Reader in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow.Updated 22/06/2011. Freelance writer lives in Budapest


As cultural history, Modern Scottish Poetry teems with ideas. The kaleidoscope of Scotland's multiple languages and cultures comes across persuasively.