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The Voice of the PeopleHamish Henderson and Scottish Cultural Politics$
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Corey Gibson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748696574

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748696574.001.0001

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Poetry and the People

Poetry and the People

(p.115) Chapter 4 Poetry and the People
The Voice of the People

Corey Gibson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter is an account of Henderson’s place in contemporary discussions on the form and content of Scottish poetry. It addresses Henderson’s perceived ‘turn’ away from art-poetry towards folk-song and considers his negotiations with the legacy of the interwar literary renaissance. Through his responses to the poetry of MacDiarmid and his contemporaries, including the ‘Lallans Makars’ and the ‘Clyde Group’, Henderson set out his vision of the most important developments in this pronouncedly Scottish literary tradition. He promoted a distinctive radical national tradition embodied in the early twentieth century by the Clydeside socialist leader John Maclean, and remarked on the political potential of anonymity and pseudonymity as represented in the Scottish literary tradition. Henderson proposed that the characteristic blurring of borders between ‘literary’ and ‘folk’ culture, be consciously embraced and adapted for the conditions of modern Scotland. In arriving at perhaps his most original and most significant contribution to the conception of the artist in the shadow of the modernist period, he proposed a synthesis of form and content between the ‘high’ literary and the ‘low’ folk arts.

Keywords:   Scottish Literary Renaissance, Hamish Henderson, John Maclean, Anonymity, Pseudonyms, ‘Alias MacAlias’, Folk-song, Literature, Lallans, Clydeside

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