Fishing for Poetry

November 4, 2010

Norman MacCaig (1910-96), one of the greatest poets of his generation, was an expert fly-fisher. His favourite loch, the Loch of the Green Corrie, lies high up in the mountains of Assynt in the far north-west of Scotland. His favourite fiddle player (and occasional on-stage collaborator) was Shetland maestro Aly Bain, Aly also being, in Yeats’s phrase, “a lad with a stout fly-fisher’s wrist”.

Yet another keen fisherman and a great admirer of MacCaig’s poetry is Billy Connolly, an old pal of Aly’s, while poet and novelist Andrew Greig, charged by MacCaig shortly before his death with an in memoriam foray to the Loch of the Green Corrie, had gone there and fulfilled his task or at least caught a book, “At The Loch Of The Green Corrie”, published by Quercus earlier this year.

In Fishing for Poetry, produced by Douglas Eadie and directed by Mike Alexander of Glasgow-based Pelicula Films, Bain, Connolly and Greig celebrate the November 14 centenary of MacCaig’s birth with a light-hearted journey from the poet’s native Edinburgh to his beloved Assynt and the long climb to the Loch of the Green Corrie with its elusive trout.

Friends and fellow poets – including Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, Douglas Dunn, Alasdair Gray, Seamus Heaney, Tom Leonard and Aonghas MacNeacail – also feature with anecdotes, tributes and readings of their choice of MacCaig’s finest poems. MacCaig himself appears in eloquent archive footage from Mike Alexander’s 1976 portrait of the poet, “A Man In My Position”.

BBC2 Scotland, Monday, November 8, 9pm. | BBC4 network, Thursday, November 18, 9pm. Full programme info: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vtxh2

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