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The Scots Makar

16/02/2004

First Minister Jack McConnell announced today that Cabinet has agreed to create a position of national poet for Scotland, and that the first person to be awarded this designation will be Edwin Morgan. Professor Morgan will be known as 'The Scots Makar'.

Ministers are committed to an independent appointment process for the future and will consult with the Scottish Arts Council and members of the poetry community to agree that procedure.

Professor Edwin Morgan with Jack McConnell

The First Minister said that Professor Edwin Morgan was the obvious first choice to be The Scots Makar.

Professor Morgan is recognised as Scotland's leading contemporary poet. He has been writing for six decades and some of his best known works such as The Second Life (1968) and From Glasgow to Saturn (1973) have been taught in schools across Scotland.

Speaking at the award ceremony in Glasgow, the First Minister said:

"It is vitally important that we recognise the significant contribution of poetry to the culture of Scotland. This position will symbolise the success and of Scottish poets in the past and the potential of Scottish poetry in the future. I hope that The Scots Makar will inspire young Scots to enjoy, and indeed to write, poetry.

"Professor Morgan's work has done just that. Generations of Scots have had their lives enriched through his poetry, his vivid imagination and incredible use of language have sparked many an image into life.

"Edwin Morgan is an exceptional human being whose talent has touched the lives of thousands of people around the world. He is not just a poet for Scotland - he is a poet for our times."

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport Frank McAveety said:

"Edwin Morgan has been an inspiration for many years. I have read his poetry since my teens, and have seen at first hand how his poems work magic with students at school.

"His range and innovation have expanded Scottish poetry, and he is appreciated throughout the country."

Although appointed by Ministers, Professor Morgan will be the only recipient of the title to be appointed in this way. In future, an independent committee will be established to make the award.

The title will carry no specific financial remuneration and will be for a period of 3 years.

The obligations of the holder, in general, would be to represent Scottish poetry in the public consciousness, to promote poetic creativity in Scotland, and to be an ambassador for Scottish poetry.