Following the footsteps of Robert Burns

We introduce you to three of our favourite contemporary LGBT Scottish poets

Following the footsteps of Robert Burns
25 January 2012

Get your haggis, neeps and tatties at the ready, it's Robert Burns Day!

People across Scotland (and the globe) will be donning their kilts in honour of the great Scottish bard, who famously wrote the likes of Auld Lang Syne, Tam o'Shanter, Ae Fond Kiss and My Love is Like a Red Red Rose.

Born 25 January 1759 in Alloway, South Ayrshire, Burns was never appreciated during his time, only becoming a truly celebrated poet and national treasure posthumously.

Now, on the anniversary of his birth, Burns Suppers are held in his honour. Traditionally, a haggis (sheeps heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal and spices encased in an animal stomach) is presented to the guests before the host recites a few of Burns' most well known poems.

In memory of Burns, Gay Star News introduce you to three queer Scottish poets who could leave a legacy as great as 'oor Rabbie's'.

Edwin Morgan

The most notable of Scotland's queer poets is the late Edwin Morgan. Named as Scotland's first national poet, Morgan is best known for poems such as Strawberries and The Loch Ness Monster's Song.

In his lifetime, Morgan was made an OBE, won numerous international poetry prizes, Scottish Book of the Year and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

Morgan came out as gay when he reached 70 years old, revealing his sexuality in his 1990 work Nothing Not Giving Messages: Reflections on his Work and Life. Throughout his early career he had kept his sexuality hidden as homosexuality was not decriminalised in Scotland until 1980.

Although this could have proven difficult, Morgan was able to draw inspiration from the situation: 'It was something I wanted to write about from quite early on.

'I was able to draw sustenance from it… It took a long time for me to risk being unguarded, it depended on changes in society, changes in the law, changes in the people I knew.'

Morgan died on 19 August, 2010, in Glasgow, aged 90.

Christopher Whyte

Contemporary gaelic poet Christopher Whyte has dealt more explicitly with homosexuality in both his poems and English language novels.

In Elegy for Alasdair Cameron, he challenges the refusal of Scottish society to accept gay people:

'I am oppressed by silence,/ for we were born in a land/ which does not want us'

While in his book The Gay Decameron, Whyte tells the tale of a group of gay men in the top floor of an Edinburgh New Town flat during the city's AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

Carol Ann Duffy

Glaswegian writer Carol Ann Duffy rose to prominence in the early 80s after winning the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition with her poem Whoever She Was. Her first collection, Standing Female Nude, was published shortly after to critical acclaim.

Since then, Duffy has won the TS Elliot Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award and in 2009 she became first female, Scottish and gay writer to hold the position of British Poet Laureate.

When asked about her sexuality, Duffy told the BBC: 'Sexuality is something that is celebrated now we have civil partnerships and it's fantastic that I'm an openly gay writer, and anyone here… who feels shy or uncomfortable about their sexuality should celebrate and be confident and be happy.

'It's a lovely, ordinary, normal thing.'

Duffy's first official poem as poet laureate tackled the issue of the British MP expenses scandal and in 2010 she premiered her poem Vigil during Manchester Pride, dedicating it to the memory of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS.

Watch Carol Anne Duffy read Vigil at Manchester Pride below:
 

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Elton John will set up Katy Perry at Oscars

Elton will line up eligible hunks for Perry at his raucous Oscars party singles table
No thumbnail available

Why I am too gay to attend a spelling bee in Belize

Gay activist Maurice Tomlinson wants to attend his son’s spelling bee in Belize but is banned from entering the country because of his sexuality. He is appealing the law and needs help
Catholics weep and ask for tolerance in shocking advert against same-sex marriage

Catholics weep and ask for tolerance in shocking advert against same-sex marriage

Opponents of gay marriage break down in tears and talk about how hard it is to be viewed as ‘different’ in a film that mimics ‘It Gets Better’ stories
No thumbnail available

Linda Harvey: Gay marriage threatens kids with disease

US anti gay campaigner and radio host says that marriage equality will ‘victimize’ children and put them at risk of ‘more disease, more anxiety, depression’
No thumbnail available

Children of gay parents are thriving, family experts say

British gay couples are being urged to consider fostering or adoption as a new study shows they make great parents
No thumbnail available

Indiana and Wisconsin attorney generals ask US Supreme Court to decide gay marriage cases

A total of seven cases are now vying for review by nation's highest court
No thumbnail available

Sam Smith feels like 'king of the world' Down Under with new love

British singer strikes iconic Titanic pose with boyfriend Jonathan Zeizel
No thumbnail available

Bieber’s biggest record was about a gay split up

Songwriter Frank Ocean has told The Sun, Justin Bieber’s track Bigger was about his break up with another man
No thumbnail available

INTERVIEW: CBB's Perez Hilton: 'The Perez Show was a huge failure. Now, it's going to be about me and my son for a while'

Gossip blogger and Celebrity Big Brother star on his BFF Nadia Sawala and his nemesis Katie Hopkins
No thumbnail available

Pat Robertson tells TV viewers gays seek to impose 'totalitarian' socialism on America

Makes comments while defending Indiana's 'religious freedom' law