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Iain Crichton Smith Biography

(1928–1998), The Long River, The Law and the Grace, From Bourgeois Land, Love Poems and Elegies

Scottish poet and novelist, born in Glasgow, educated at the University of Aberdeen. He was a schoolteacher in Glasgow and Oban from 1952 to 1977. A prolific author in both English and Gaelic, The Long River (1955) was his first collection of verse; among his subsequent volumes in English are The Law and the Grace (1965), From Bourgeois Land (1969), Love Poems and Elegies (1972), The Exiles (1984), Selected Poems (1985), The Village (1989), and Ends and Beginnings (1994). A Life (1986) is a long autobiographical poem. Collected Poems was published in 1992. Smith's belief in ‘a poetry of fighting tensions and not in a poetry of statement’ is consistent with his rejection of dogmatic ethical, religious, and social codes in numerous memorable poems, among them ‘Lenin’ and ‘The Law and the Grace’. The landscapes and communities of the Scottish highlands provide much of his imagery and subject matter. His novels, notable for their shrewdness of characterization and vigorous dialogue, include Consider the Lilies (1968), Goodbye, Mr Dixon (1974), The Tenement (1985), The Dream (1990), and An Honourable Death (1992). His works in Gaelic, published under the name Iain Mac A'Ghobainn, include the poems of Biobuill Is Sanasan Reice (1965, lit. ‘bibles and advertisements’), the play An Coileach (lit. ‘the cockerel’), which was produced in 1966, and several books of short stories, among them An t-Adhar Amaireaganach (1973, lit. ‘the American sky’); it is as a short-story writer that he is considered to have made his most valuable contribution to Gaelic culture. Among his volumes of short stories in English are Selected Stories (1990) and Listening to the Voice (1993). Among his other works is Towards the Human (1986), a collection of critical essays, and his translation of Sorley MacLean's Poems to Eimhir (1971).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Lemn Sissay Biography to Southwold Suffolk