A work of epic, category-defying scope, blending biography and national history, poetry and prose, it is an intimate portrait of an old friend and mentor, and a political manifesto calling for revolution.
Riach’s poems begin with Hugh MacDiarmid’s childhood in Langholm and his first attempts to navigate the Scottish landscape. We travel from the Borders to Shetland, from Edinburgh to rural Lanarkshire. The poems map a nation where nature is inseparable from political history. They explore a peculiarly Scottish kind of consciousness, willing itself to be free yet bowed under the weight of self-suppression. There is confrontation on various fronts. MacDiarmid experienced trauma, divorce, breakdown, wildness and later, domestic affection. At the same time, Scotland endured two world wars, each triggering a continuing renaissance of Scottish artists and intellectuals, struggling to regenerate international recognition and self- determination.
Alongside Riach’s poems, the book includes reproductions of paintings by the artists Alexander Moffat and Ruth Nicol, focusing on some of the landscapes, friends and associates MacDiarmid knew most closely through his long life, plus a frontispiece portrait by William Johnstone and a song-setting by Ronald Stevenson.
The event will feature readings, discussion and an opportunity to buy the book.