14-11-2010 Happy Birthday, Norman

Today is Norman MacCaig's centenary. 

In honour of this, there is a new, short(ish) poem on the poems page - though I suspect it would be too long for Norman's liking.   

He was, quite simply, our finest since Burns. 

Happy Birthday to you, Norman. I hope you are enjoying the fishing in that place you didn't believe in. 

'I feel like writing a poem the way you feel hungry or thirsty. And if it's possible, I sit down always in this particular chair, and with a particular size of blank paper, no lines on it. And I have not an idea what's coming. Not a clue. And very quickly into my head comes a memory of a place or an event or a person or all three. But far more often it's a short line, a short phrase – four or five words, nothing extraordinary about them. Down it goes, and the poem trickles down the page until it's finished. They come very quickly, very easily. I'm asked "how long does it take you to write a poem, Norman?" And I say "two fags". Sometimes it's only one.' 
MacCaig in conversation