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  • Edinburgh


  • Arts and crafts
  • Emotions, attitudes and behaviour


  • Television arts


  • Encore for the arts


  • 1980s

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Reference number: T2384

Date: 1982, May

Production company: Scottish Television

Sound: sound

Original format: 16mm

Colour: col

Fiction: non-fiction

Running time: 25.09 mins

Description: Scottish Television arts documentary about Scottish poet Norman MacCaig, who talks to presenter Alistair Moffat and reads his poetry in an Edinburgh pub.

See also ref 2802

Credits: film ed. John Gow
presenter Alistair Moffat

Shotlist: gvs Norman MacCaig at poetry reading in pub, he is introduced to audience and reads his poem 'Godot' (1.12) talking head MacCaig in interview with Alistair Moffat about schooldays at Royal High School, writing his first poem, studying classics, expecting to become a teacher (2.11) still of MacCaig as young man - gvs of Edinburgh street and MacCaig's flat - ints of flat, prints, photographs and bookshelves - MacCaig talks about his first two volumes of 'incomprehensible' poetry; describes himself as a 'failed countryman', intercut with Assynt landscape gvs, postbus stopping in village (4.58) back to poetry reading in pub, reading 'Two Thieves', 'Go Away, Ariel' (6.44) MacCaig reading 'Autobiographical Note', intercut with gvs of Governor's House on Calton Hill, St. Andrews House, Royal High School, Arthur's Seat, Nelson's Monument, Edinburgh skylines, view to Firth of Forth (8.12) talking head MacCaig about his inspiration for poems and writing method, the 'reality of objects and people' (10.54) MacCaig reading poem in pub, 'Praise of a Man' intercut with c/us of photograph and audience members (11.48) talking head MacCaig about nature of poetry, deconstructs lines from Shakespeare's 'Tempest', a 'clotted confection of nonsense' - he quotes Webster's 'Duchess of Malfi' to illustrate ideas in poetry - story about Hugh MacDiarmid choosing his favourite line from Robert Burns (14.47) MacCaig in pub reading 'Two Skulls' (16.25) Moffat interviews MacCaig in bar, who says he has 'no imagination' and is a 'reporter' - he talks about the best current Scottish poets and their individual voices, who are all nationalists 'because they despise politics' - he describes voting for the Scottish National Party and sees their politicians as 'a horsefly on the blank backside of Westminster' (18.26) MacCaig reading in pub, 'How to Cover the Ground' (19.04) talking head MacCaig about his temptation towards flippancy - reading in pub, 'Characteristics', 'Recipe' (20.57) talking head MacCaig about 'unexamined ideas and unexamined emotions', politicians using emotive language rather than describing their beliefs, role of poetry is to examine these (21.57) MacCaig reading in pub, 'A Sort of Physics' (23.10) talking head MacCaig in pub, 'writing poetry to me is like breathing', and the unlikelihood of his writing an autobiography - in pub reading 'John Brown and Queen Victoria' (25.09)