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This article is taken from PN Review 230, Volume 42 Number 6, July - August 2016.

Poets Post-War

G. S. Fraser and Edwin Morgan
James McGonigal
‘WHAT DID YOUR faither dae in the war?’ was a boys’ school-yard gambit I recall from 1950s Scotland. The same question could now be asked about father-figures, including poetic ones, perhaps with the conjecture – ‘and what did the war do to him?’.

The centenary of G. S. Fraser (1915–1980) has been marked by a fine Selected Poems from Shoestring Press. The press is run by John Lucas, poet, critic, literary historian and biographer, and Fraser’s friend over many years. Fraser was based in England for most of his working life – in literary London just before and after the War, and then in Leicester University, where he became Reader in Poetry. But he was born in Glasgow, moved to Aberdeen as a boy and was educated there and at St Andrews University, and then trained as a journalist on the Aberdeen Press and Journal in the 1930s. John Lucas re-introduced the man and his work at events in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, the first of these in the delightfully extended Scottish Poetry Library, featuring readings or re-readings of Fraser by Scottish poets and editors.

Fraser is sometimes connected with the New Apocalyptics of the late 1930s, anthologised in The New Apocalypse (1939) by another Glaswegian, J. F. Hendry. This movement, or loose grouping, wrote in reaction to the political and intellectual emphasis of earlier 1930s poetry, preferring the surreal, the subconscious, the mythic. Scottish and Welsh writers were associated: Norman MacCaig (in his early work, later disowned) and Tom Scott, Dylan Thomas ...

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