A double celebration of MacDiarmid

A LIFELONG Hugh MacDiarmid enthusiast will receive a national award in Langholm tomorrow, writes Sally Gillespie.

Former Roxburghshire resident John Manson will be presented with the Saltire Society’s Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun Award tomorrow afternoon for his work on the famous Langholm poet.

A Saltire Society spokesperson said: “John’s publication, ‘Dear Grieve’ – an astounding work of scholarly dedication, collecting all the letters of note received by Hugh MacDiarmid (Christopher Grieve) in his lifetime – has been the result of a decade of selfless study and research, and is no doubt destined to become the standard academic tome when considering MacDiarmid’s vast correspondence.”

Glasgow University’s Professor of Scottish Literature, Alan Riach, will talk about John’s work at the presentation in the Town Hall Gallery in Market Place.

He will also talk about artist Sandy Moffat, whose famous Poets’ Pub painting, an imaginary vision of the major Scottish poets and writers of the second half of the 20th century gathered around MacDiarmid, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

Prior to the Saltire Society’s presentation, the Edinburgh-based artist will open an exhibition of 15 of his portraits of leading late 20th century writers and sketches he made for his famous Poet’s Pub creation.

The Town Hall Gallery’s Margaret Pool said: “This is the highest profile exhibition we have had.”

It came about after the artist spoke to the Langholm and District Art Club about Poets’ Pub and Mrs Pool then asked him if he still had the original sketches from his noted painting.

Mrs Pool said: “He said he thought he had them somewhere.”

In the brochure accompanying the exhibition, entitled Hugh MacDiarmid, Mr Moffat says: “I am indebted to the Saltire Society for holding their Fletcher of Saltoun Award ceremony on the opening day of the exhibition. That the award should be conferred upon John Manson for his wonderful collection of letters to Hugh MacDiarmid gives me great pleasure.”

The Saltire Society’s Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun Award was established in 1988 to recognise a significant contribution made to Scottish culture. Previous recipients include Donald Dewar and George Mackay Brown.

The exhibition runs until September 14.