Alastair Reid – A Restless Content

  23 Apr '20   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Alan Taylor pinged over an email this morning. He does this from time-to-time, usually pointing out some gem of insight or journalism (perceptive, insightful or pitiful!) – and sharing friendship. They are – without exception – welcome sights in the inbox, no more so than at this time. This morning’s email came with a link to a wonderful documentary film from Leman productions, 1996: a 70th birthday appreciation of Alastair Reid, in which he reflects on his 30 years writing for the New Yorker magazine – and literary friendships with Robert Graves, Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda. Alan wrote and narrated the film and Jan Leman was the Director/Editor. They have given permission for us to link to the film here – a full half hour of diversion to enjoy. Grab a cuppa and enjoy.

A Restless Contentclick here to watch.

AND… it includes the rare treat of Alastair himself reading from Scotland and from Rain.


It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. ‘What a day it is!’
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
‘We’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it!’

Inside Out – Selected Poetry and Translations (Polygon, 2008)

Although Inside Out is no longer in print, Alastair Reid’s poems, ‘Scotland’, ‘Propinquity’ and ‘Daedalus’ are all included in A Gathering: A Personal Selection of Scottish Poems by Alexander McCall Smith.

Alan Taylor is the author of Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark. He is the series editor of the Collected Editions of all of Muriel’s novels.

Alan is also editor of Glasgow the Autobiography.

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