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This article is taken from PN Review 89, Volume 19 Number 3, January - February 1993.

Hugh MacDiarmid: A Disgrace to the Community Robert Crawford

IN THE SUMMER of 1992 Bruce Young, a producer at BBC Radio Scotland in Edinburgh, asked me if I would like to make a 'forward-looking' radio programme about MacDiarmid. I jumped at. the chance, though the deadlines involved were tight since the programme was to be transmitted on the centenary of MacDiarmid's birth, 11 August 1992. I was keen that A Disgrace to the Community should focus on MacDiarmid's legacies to younger writers, or, in some cases, his lack of legacies. To emphasize that the historical individual C.M. Grieve was no longer available, and that his work would live only if revoiced and republished, I chose not to use MacDiarmid's own voice in the programme; instead, to distance the creations from their creator and to provide a subtle reinterpretation, MacDiarmid's words were spoken by a woman's voice (that of Gerda Stevenson). To make the programme, having decided on themes and lines of questioning, I acted as interviewer; Bruce did a splendid editing job on ten twenty-minute interviews; then I wrote a linking script to give the excerpts a structure, and to have them play against passages of MacDiarmid's poetry, and his prose (largely from Lucky Poet). I was delighted to introduce various sound-effects, ranging from part of Mahler's Sixth Symphony to an advertizing jingle; in this transcript, these have had to go.

The interviewees were the poets Douglas Dunn, W.N. Herbert (whose study of MacDiarmid has just appeared from Oxford University Press), Kathleen Jamie, Liz Lochhead, Edwin ...

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