Be the First to Like This
Be the First to Like This
BE THE FIRST TO LIKE THIS: NEW SCOTTISH POETRY
edited by Colin Waters
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm
Publication: 22 September 2014
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Throw a stone in Edinburgh or Glasgow today and you’ll hit a young poet. The Scottish spoken word scene has exploded, reaching a level of popularity last seen in the late 1970s, another era, coincidentally, when the issue of Scottish self-determination was in the air. A generation of poets has emerged who have grown up in an age of change, political and technological, with the internet providing them not only with new ways of sharing writing — through their websites, podcasts, Twitter — but also in some cases with a subject too.
Be the First to Like This: New Scottish Poetry is the first attempt to capture the spirit of a diverse scene where every poet is their own movement — from McGuire’s hilarious deconstructions of sexuality to Michael Pedersen’s dole-office blues; from William Letford’s building-site tales to MacGillivray’s mystic cowboys. It’s a scene where you are just as liable to encounter ancient gods as you are video game characters; Richard Branson as you are Dolly the Sheep. Be the First to Like This features forty poets, mostly under-forty who have made Scotland their home. It’s a survey, a yearbook, a celebration and a promise of things to come.
"As the title (which comes from a poem in the collection by Theresa Munoz) suggests, Waters has deliberately sought out poems and poets who address 21st century life. There are enough poems in the world, he says, about Odysseus or about rivers. Where are the poetic voices which address internet dating and social media?
"So, contemporary subjects are much in evidence: YouTube and the Dyson vacuum cleaner, Eva Longoria, Instagram, Dolly the Sheep. A handful of poets play with the writing conventions of new media. Many more are grappling with an international, interconnected world in which there is a dearth of intimacy. But some of the strongest poems here are those which take a more conventional poetic subject and do something fresh: Claire Askew’s Bad Moon, Russell Jones’ poem about not seeing the stars, Marion McCready in whose poem daffodils 'spread like cancer', Charlotte Runcie’s Pope, Telescope, a complex, controlled approach to a big, timeless theme." — Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman
"I'm always being asked how is poetry faring in this digital age. It seems to me that it is flourishing. Be the First to Like This proves this on every page. Never since Donny O'Rourke's era-defining anthology Dream State was published, which captured and celebrated the spirit of the generation after mine, has there been a single volume that does the same thing so brilliantly for the next group of new kids on the block." — Liz Lochhead, from her foreword
"Whether it's Claire Askew's sky 'like a cooling flashbulb' or Miriam Gamble's 'sky sucking back its thunder-claps' or Niall Campbell's 'waiter poet' who is 'bringer of the feast and the bill' or William Letford's 'fingle foogle boogaloo', there's something here for everyone to relish. This anthology presents new Anglophone Scottish poetry as a broad, sometimes turbulent stream. Anyone prepared to wade in and pan for gold is likely to come back enriched." — Robert Crawford