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This article is taken from PN Review 214, Volume 40 Number 2, November - December 2013.

Keeping it Concrete: Edwin Morgan in the Sixties James McGonigal
The 1950s had been a painful time for Edwin Morgan, but all his sense of personal and artistic failure was transformed in the 1960s. He once told Robin Fulton, the Scottish poet and translator, that his experience of the new decade was 'like being shot from a gun'. Suddenly a trajectory of liberation opened up, and he responded with enthusiasm. There were various factors at play. He fell in love in his early forties, and for the first time experienced a reciprocal and long-lasting relationship (with John Scott, a warehouseman from industrial Lanarkshire). Within wider society -  in music and fashion, politics, space exploration and sexual attitudes -  changes appeared, and there was a feeling of life opening up. This shift appeared to be happening across Europe and America, so it was possible for Morgan to think even more positively about his connections with the international avant-garde, and to work alongside and help publish younger Scottish writers and artists such as Ian Hamilton Finlay, D.M. Black, Alan Riddell and Alan Jackson, who were also responding keenly to this changing world.

Latin American writing was central to this new experience, particularly the concrete poets of Brazil, although he was also in contact with other concrete poets such as Eugen Gomringer in Switzerland, Dom Sylvester Houédard in England and Ernst Jandl in Austria. The Brazilian Noigandres group, focused around the creative, publishing and critical energies of the brothers Haroldo and Augusto de Campos and Décio Pignatari, made a huge impact on Morgan. He first came across their work after writing ...


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