Margaret Tait (1918-1999) was a pioneering filmmaker for whom words and images made the world real. In 'documentary', she wrote, real things 'lose their reality ... and there's no poetry in that. In poetry, something else happens.' If film, for Tait, was a poetic medium, her poems are works of craft and observation that are generous and independent in their vision of the world, poems that make seeing happen.
Sarah Neely, Lecturer in Film at the University of Stirling, draws on Tait's three poetry collections, her book of short stories, her magazine articles and unpublished notebooks to make available for the first time a collection of the full range of Tait's writing. Her introduction discusses Tait as filmmaker and writer in the context of mid-twentieth-century Scottish culture, and a comprehensive list of bibliographic and film resources provides an indispensible guide for further exploration.
Author Biography: Margaret Tait (1918-1999) was born in Orkney in 1918. After qualifying in Medicine from Edinburgh University in 1941, she joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in India, Sri Lanka and Malaya, before returning to Orkney in 1946. She studied filmmaking in Rome from 1950-52, at the height of Neorealism. Returning to the UK, Tait established her own film company, Ancona films, working first in Edinburgh before returning to her native Orkney where she continued to make films until her death in 1999.
Neely's book is an essential complement for anyone interested in Tait's work. For some people Margaret Tait's poems will be her finest achievement. - Michael Romer,University of Edinburgh Journal
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Foreword by Ali Smith Introduction A Note on the Text
Poems from origins and elements (1959) Elasticity Reading about Rimbaud ‘It’s a mistake to write a poem that seems more certain’ Emily Water Carbon Reputation Storms A Fire Flood-water Sleep ‘Protected in my little house’ To Anybody at All Singularity Four or Ninety or ∞ or what Now Lezione di Recitazione ‘ “Don’t meet,” they say to me’ The Unbreakable-Up Litmus Cave Drawing of the Water of the Earth and Sea Hooray, Hooray, Hoo Ray Ray Ray Sprung Sonnet Ay, Ay, Ay, Dolores
from Subjects and Sequences (1960) Pomona Bowery Standing Stones of Stenness Then, Oh Then, Oh Then Edward Nairn, Poet Kulgin the Helicopter Alex Allison But why not try this method A Poem for a Morning Pavement Artist from Short Poems on Blue Paper Historical Sense The Old Lady of Loth Punishment One World, One Sun Epiphany Northerner Midwinter You Heard What the Minister Said, Pet ‘The eyebright was for you’ Bushels Mary, Queen of Scots Secrets
from The Hen and the Bees (1960) Hen Dogs Family The Scale of Things Locklessness For Using Light Responsiveness Trust Spring 1958 Remains that Have Been Tampered With Queen of Fact and Story Story-telling Queen Sea-going King’s Queen The Queen and All the Children A Queen in Prison Belief Other Gods, Other Ways Loki Beside the Standing Stone Thor Freya Baldar By the Book Sound of Children Sobbing Face-kicking
Uncollected and Unpublished Poems One is One Studentessa (The Little Tourist in Rome) The Window Boxes Seeing’s Believing and Believing’s Seeing Horses Word Song That’s Them off on Their Spring Forays Drawing in Pen and Ink The Sky of Your City Why Did They Go? The Raven Banner Concha Orcadensis This Now Free for All Flame from a twenty-seven-page ‘Examination into the meaning of fire’ Il Mago Materfamilias Me In Olden Days Winter Solstice What is it that’s wonderful about the photograph? The Boats at Droman Redefinition of a Lame Duck Orquil Burn Soon Grove
SHORT STORIES The Incomers The Song Gatherer Sixteen Frames per Second
WRITINGS ON FILM Time On Rossellini Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress Independence: Small Budget Production in Rome On Throwing a Film Festival Close-up of Rose Street Two-way Drift Colour Poems 1974 Film-poem or Poem-film: A few notes about film and poetry from Margaret Tait Video Poems for the 90s (working title)
RESOURCES Works by Margaret Tait Selected Bibliography Selected Filmography Archives Index of Poem Titles Index of Poem First Lines