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Today is the centenary of Norman MacCaig‘s birth and, later today, I’ll be reading a new poem partly inspired by MacCaig’s “New Maps and Old” at the Poetry at the GVR MacCaig 100 celebration.

MacCaig is an important figure for me. I credit having read him for Higher English with nudging me into writing poetry as a teenager. An unforgettable experience, really, although I never met the man. That’s one of my great poetry-related regrets, not least because I had — and, for reasons I can’t remember no matter how I rack my brains, passed up — the opportunity to hear him read when I was at school.

It’s a while since I read MacCaig, even as an adult, but it has been a genuine pleasure lately to rediscover the sheer quality of his observation and the sharpness and humanity of his writing.

Happy birthday, Mr MacCaig.

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