Poets on the Attack: A dramatic re-enactment of Hugh MacDiarmid and Hamish Henderson’s Folk-Song Flyting


In 2022 it is 100 years since the name Hugh MacDiarmid first appeared in print. We are pleased to mark the anniversary of one of our Honorary Academicians with a performance of The Folk-Song Flyting. Join us for what promises to be a highly entertaining evening!

Alan Riach and Corey Gibson, both of Glasgow University, present a fascinating account of the flyting between two of Scotland’s greatest modern poets, Hugh MacDiarmid and Hamish Henderson, orginally conducted in the letters pages of The Scotsman  in the 1960s.

A flyting is an old Scottish literary tradition of coruscating verbal attack, in which two poets present opposing arguments and tear into each other in delightful abandon with an abundance of sheer linguistic brio. The exchanges focussed on matters of Scottish arts and identity, the relative values of ‘High Art’ and folk song, genuine popularity and commercial populism. This event is a dramatic re-enactment of the flyting conducted in the original spirit of the correspondence, in the timeless Scottish style of ‘enjoying the row fine’.

The performance will play out against a backdrop of images from the exhibition, Landmarks: Hugh MacDiarmid: The Brownsbank Years by RSA Annual Exhibition exhibitors, Alexander Moffat RSA and Ruth Nicol.

The event is being filmed for the MacDiarmid Brownsbank Trust and following the performance there will be the opportunity to chat to the performers and artists over a complimentary dram. The publication Landmarks: Hugh MacDiarmid: The Brownsbank Years will be for sale in aid ofthe MacDiarmid Brownsbank Trust.


Wednesday 11 May 2022
Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, Royal Scottish Academy
Tickets £10 | RSA Friends & Students £6
Entry via the Royal Scottish Academy South Door entrance
Doors open 6.30pm, performance 6.45 – 8pm
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Wednesday 11 May 2022
Royal Scottish Acadmeny, Edinburgh. United Kingdom