Hugh MacDiarmid 1923-2023

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in or organising a conference


On the centenary of the publication of Annals of the Five Senses, this international Hugh MacDiarmid conference will examine MacDiarmid’s/Grieve’s achievements, commitments, and the mark he has left on the literary and political landscapes of Scotland and Europe.

C. R. F. Irvine – "Kenning what he meant: MacDiarmid afore he deed"

In this centenary year of Grieve’s Annals of the Five Senses, and the forthcoming MacDiarmidian centenaries, there will be a flurry of reflections on the career and double lives of Grieve/MacDiarmid: the exemplary anti-syzygyian man. As controversial as he is central to the enterprise of Scottish literature, studies of MacDiarmid are persistent and show no signs of slowing down, with forthcoming scholarly volumes and celebrations like this conference. Perhaps it’s antithetical to MacDiarmid’s project to suggest that there was method in his madness or at least some sense of well-wrought symmetry, and yet that’s what this paper will examine. Putting ourselves in the speaker’s position in one of MacDiarmid’s first Scots lyric experiments, ‘The Watergaw’, ‘mebbe at last [we can] ken’ the meaning behind MacDiarmid’s ‘last wild look [he] gied / Afore [he] deed’. Applying some facets of my research in Late Style to MacDiarmid and his 'Mature Art' – both in terms of MacDiarmid himself and the late poem of that title – I would like to examine the connections between Grieve/MacDiarmid’s beginnings and endings, particularly the moments where a late MacDiarmid’s visions and revisions cast a wild look back over his own life and career, adding the capturing of both life and death in a single gaze to his many dualities.
Period15 Jun 202316 Jun 2023
Event typeConference
LocationBrest, FranceShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Poetry
  • Scottish Literature
  • Late Style
  • Scotland
  • Literature
  • Biography
  • Hugh MacDiarmid
  • Literary Theory