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Robert Garioch Biography

(1909–81), 17 Poems for 6d. in Gaelic, Lowland Scots and English

edinburgh scots scottish poetry

Scottish poet, originally named Robert Garioch Sutherland; he was born in Edinburgh, where he was educated at the university. After a long career as a schoolteacher in England and the east of Scotland, in 1965 he returned to the University of Edinburgh as a lexicographer and transcriber in the School of Scottish Studies. Garioch's poetry is largely written in Scots, out of his stated intention of affirming the separate identity of the Scottish nation. 17 Poems for 6d. in Gaelic, Lowland Scots and English (with Sorley MacLean, 1940) was the first of numerous collections of his poetry, which include Chuckies on a Cairn (1949), a ‘dramatic fantasy’ entitled The Masque of Edinburgh (1954), The Big Music (1971), and Doktor Faust in Rose Street (1973). His considerable skills in versification combine with the high-spirited energies of his colloquial diction to remarkable effect in many of the comically satirical poems for which he is best known; recurrent targets were the municipal and cultural pretensions he identified in Edinburgh. He produced many translations into Scots from the works of Pindar, Belli, Apollinaire, and others. His four years as a prisoner of war in Italy and Germany are recorded in the prose memoir Two Men and a Blanket (1973). His Complete Poetical Works, edited by R. Fulton, was published in 1983.

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