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Margaret Tait by Ali Smith
Ali Smith
Margaret Tait
Margaret Tait. Sweet old Scottish lady who made quaint little films all her life which are interesting to look at now because - look! that's Princes St, Edinburgh! in the 1950s!, and that's Rose St! it hasn't changed! and isn't it good to have archive film of a rural life that's disappearing, that's almost totally disappeared now, in her films about Orkney, and it's so nice that she made little books of her poetry and stories and published them herself, she was such a creative soul, how sweet and interesting.


Margaret Tait. Remarkable critical forerunner, in her poetry which has, scandalously, been totally critically ignored. But now a recognisable Scottish literary voice, one that took another ten to twenty years after her own publications to come to the fore. Now credited with kickstarting the late 20th century renaissance in Scottish writing, like Liz Lochhead's, Alasdair Gray's.

A writer whose openness of mind, voice and structure all come from the Beats maybe, and Whitman crossed with MacDiarmid, but then cut their own original (and crucially female) path. A unique and underrated filmmaker, nobody like her. Born of the Italian neo-realists, formed of her own Scottish pragmatism, optimism, generosity and experimental spirit, and a clear forerunner of the English experimental directors of the late 20th century. A clear example of, and pioneer of, the poetic tradition, the experimental tradition, the democratic tradition, in the best of risk-taking Scottish cinema.

Still from Rose Street by Margaret Tait, 1956
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