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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 17:21 GMT
National bard 'will speak mind'
Edwin Morgan
Edwin Morgan's work has spanned six decades
Scotland's new national poet has vowed not to shy away from speaking his mind, even if that upsets those in establishment who appointed him.

Professor Edwin Morgan, 83, was named as "The Scots Makar" by First Minister Jack McConnell on Monday.

He becomes Scotland's nearest equivalent to a Poet Laureate, the post currently held by Andrew Motion.

Prof Morgan praised Mr Motion's decision to write a poem critical of the Iraq war.

He said: "It seems to me it was absolutely the right thing to do.

You want to write what you feel strongly about - not what you feel you ought to write about
Professor Morgan
"He has a voice where he had some kind of a platform, where he could say what he wanted - it might be something that pleased the folk who appointed him or it might not.

"But he could do it because it was something he felt strongly about.

"You want to write what you feel strongly about - not what you feel you ought to write about.

"If I felt strongly about Holyrood, I would write about Holyrood, if I felt strongly about Mars I would write about Mars."

Mr McConnell made the announcement at the Glasgow nursing home where the Prof Morgan, who has cancer, is living.

'Lives enriched'

"The Scots Makar" is a term dating back to the Scots poets of the 15th and 16th century.

The unpaid position lasts for a three-year term and his task will be to represent and promote Scots poetry.

Prof Morgan was appointed by ministers but future holders of the post will be chosen by an independent committee.

The creation of the post, and Prof Morgan's appointment, was decided after talks with other party leaders.

Mr McConnell said: "It is vitally important that we recognise the significant contribution of poetry to the culture of Scotland.

Edwin Morgan is an exceptional human being whose talent has touched the lives of thousands of people around the world
Jack McConnell
"This position will symbolise the success of Scottish poets in the past and the potential of Scottish poetry in the future."

Generations of Scots had their lives enriched by Prof Morgan's poetry, said Mr McConnell.

"Edwin Morgan is an exceptional human being whose talent has touched the lives of thousands of people around the world," he said.

"He is not just a poet for Scotland - he is a poet for our times."

Variety of styles

Prof Morgan was born in Glasgow's west end and went to school in Rutherglen.

After wartime service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, he completed his studies at Glasgow University where he became a lecturer and later became a professor, taking early retirement in 1980.

In 1997 he became Glasgow's Poet Laureate and last November he was awarded a Saltire Society and Scottish Arts Council lifetime achievement award.

Acknowledged as Scotland's leading contemporary poet, he has been writing for six decades and his works The Second Life (1968) and From Glasgow to Saturn (1973) have been taught in schools across Scotland.

He has used variety of styles, forms and subject matter, with works ranging from sonnet to opera libretto to concrete poetry.


SEE ALSO:
Scots poet honoured by Queen
23 Apr 00  |  UK News


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