Acknowledged Legislators: ‘Lived experience’ in Scottish Poetry Films
Van de Peer, Stefanie
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McCaffery, R. & Van de Peer, S. (2014) Acknowledged Legislators: ‘Lived experience’ in Scottish Poetry Films. International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen, 7(2), pp. 4–30.
In his 2014 book Arts of Independence, co-authored with artist Alexander Moffat, Alan Riach asserts that, while Scotland has had more than its fair share of important and experimental filmmakers, from John Grierson and Bill Douglas to Margaret Tait, the country still lacks a coherent film industry (p. 42). David Archibald’s Forsyth Hardy Lecture at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2014 also engaged with the lack of a national film industry in Scotland in the context of the independence referendum, and highlighted the transnational nature of cinema in general and Scottish cinema specifically. He argued for a more concerted effort towards an independent film industry in the country, and we argue here that one of the strategies for starting to foster an independent, national film identity could arguably be through a focus on the lives of poets and writers in film who are themselves devoted to issues of nationhood and national identity. In the case of this article, the poets in question are Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig, Sorley MacLean, Liz Lochhead and Robert Alan Jamieson. While these are not the only poets who have been subjects for Scottish films, we wish to focus on these as they are well-known, and have a consistent interest in the medium of film.