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Poems, Stories and Writings
Edited by Sarah Neely
ISBN: 978 1 847771 59 9
Categories: 20th Century, British, Film, Scottish, Women
Published: April 2012
213 x 135 x 18 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle)
One day I
Lit a fire
At which I
Dried my shoes
And I sat
On a stool
The stickes catch and flame
Quite a while
Until the whole pile I'd gathered had all burnt away.
Is a thing I
Always wonder about.
It seems to be made of colour only.
I don't know what else it's made of.
Click here to listen to Margaret Tait's reading of Flame.
Margaret Tait (1918-1999) was a pioneering filmmaker for whom words and images made the world real. In 'documentary', she wrote, real things 'lose their reality ... and there's no poetry in that. In poetry, something else happens.' If film, for Tait, was a poetic medium, her poems are works of craft and observation that are generous and independent in their vision of the world, poems that make seeing happen.
Sarah Neely, Lecturer in Film at the University of Stirling, draws on Tait's three poetry collections, her book of short stories, her magazine articles and unpublished notebooks to make available for the first time a collection of the full range of Tait's writing. Her introduction discusses Tait as filmmaker and writer in the context of mid-twentieth-century Scottish culture, and a comprehensive list of bibliographic and film resources provides an indispensible guide for further exploration.
Foreword by Ali Smith
A Note on the Text
from origins and elements (1959)
Reading about Rimbaud
‘It’s a mistake to write a poem that seems more certain’
‘Protected in my little house’
To Anybody at All
Four or Ninety or ∞ or what
Lezione di Recitazione
‘ “Don’t meet,” they say to me’
Cave Drawing of the Water of the Earth and Sea
Hooray, Hooray, Hoo Ray Ray Ray
Ay, Ay, Ay, Dolores
from Subjects and Sequences (1960)
Standing Stones of Stenness
Then, Oh Then, Oh Then
Edward Nairn, Poet
Kulgin the Helicopter
But why not try this method
A Poem for a Morning
from Short Poems on Blue Paper
The Old Lady of Loth
One World, One Sun
You Heard What the Minister Said, Pet
‘The eyebright was for you’
Mary, Queen of Scots
from The Hen and the Bees (1960)
The Scale of Things
Remains that Have Been Tampered With
Queen of Fact and Story
Sea-going King’s Queen
The Queen and All the Children
A Queen in Prison
Other Gods, Other Ways
Loki Beside the Standing Stone
By the Book
Sound of Children Sobbing
Uncollected and Unpublished Poems
One is One
Studentessa (The Little Tourist in Rome)
The Window Boxes
Seeing’s Believing and Believing’s Seeing
That’s Them off on Their Spring Forays
Drawing in Pen and Ink
The Sky of Your City
Why Did They Go?
The Raven Banner
Free for All
from a twenty-seven-page ‘Examination into the meaning of fire’
In Olden Days
What is it that’s wonderful about the photograph?
The Boats at Droman
Redefinition of a Lame Duck
The Song Gatherer
Sixteen Frames per Second
WRITINGS ON FILM
Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress
Independence: Small Budget Production in Rome
On Throwing a Film Festival
Close-up of Rose Street
Colour Poems 1974
Film-poem or Poem-film: A few notes about film and poetry
from Margaret Tait
Video Poems for the 90s (working title)
Works by Margaret Tait
Index of Poem Titles
Index of Poem First Lines
The title page reproduces the heartbeat emblem which Margaret Tait used in her three poetry collections.
Margaret Tait at Slow Bend, Helmsdale, 1960s. Copyright © Alex Pirie
Gerda Stevenson as Greta in Blue Black Permanent (1992), Courtesy of BFI
Still from On the Mountain (1974), ‘Jungle Skins Rule’. Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland / copyright © Alex Pirie
Still from Orquil Burn (1955). Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland / copyright © Alex Pirie
Stella Cartwright in Palindrome (1964). Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland / copyright © Alex Pirie
Robert Garioch, Edwin Morgan and Margaret Tait, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh Arts, 1972. Courtesy of The Richard Demarco Digital Archives
Portrait of Margaret Tait by Gunnie Moberg. Courtesy the Orkney Archive / copyright © Tam MacPhail
Still from Tailpiece (1976). Copyright © Alex Pirie
Cover of origins and elements (1959). Design by Peter Hollander
Cover of Subjects and Sequences (1960)
Cover of The Hen and the Bees (1960). Design by Robin Philipson
Still from Where I Am Is Here (1964), ‘The Bravest Boat’. Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland / copyright © Alex Pirie
Cover of Lane Furniture (1959)
Peter Hollander and Margaret Tait, Perugia, 1952. Copyright © Alex Pirie
Still from My Room (1951). Courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive, National Library of Scotland / copyright © Alex Pirie
'Neely's book is an essential complement for anyone interested in Tait's work. For some people Margaret Tait's poems will be her finest achievement.'
Michael Romer, University of Edinburgh Journal 'A writer whose openness of mind, voice and structure all come from the Beats maybe, and Whitman crossed with MacDiarmid, but then cut their own original (and crucially female) path. A remarkable critical forerunner, a unique and underrated filmmaker, there's nobody like her.'
'The best 20th century Scottish female experimental poet and film-maker that we have probably never heard about.'
The Carcanet Blog W.S Graham: Lives & Letters read more Vahni Capildeo: Honouring the Water Dragon: A Walk in Shiga Prefecture read more Jane Draycott: Translating 'Pearl' read more Patrick Worsnip: A Journey Through Translation read more Notes on Language and Poetry read more Gabriel Levin: By Way of a Preface read more
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