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Cyclic Serial Zeniths from the Flux



Joseph Macleod (1903-1984) A Drinan Trilogy (2012) The Cove / The Men of the Rocks / Script from Norway Selected and edited by James Fountain and Andrew Duncan


ISBN 978-1-906742-52-2


This is the first occasion since 1971 that any book by Joseph Macleod (1903-1984) has appeared in its entirety, and also the first re-issue. In this triple volume of booklength poems that appeared under the pseudonym ‘Adam Drinan’, the reader is presented with the key texts the author published in the 1940s and 50s. Andrew
Duncan’s Selected Poems of Joseph Macleod (Waterloo Press, 2008) broke new ground in bringing a twenty-first century public’s attention to the significant skill of this
English-born poet of Highland Scots ancestry.

In 1938, after researching and recording a highly popular programme on Russian theatre history for the BBC, Macleod was interviewed for a position as announcer
and newsreader. He became a renowned wartime newsreader and household name. These experiences with audience altered his perspective regarding poetic
readership, so that his poetry now contained a strong simplicity whilst retaining its own distinct craftsmanship and intricacy of versification. The Cove (1940) and
The Men of the Rocks (1942), a verse-play The Ghosts of the Strath (1943), and Women of the Happy Island (1944) appeared in rapid succession.

Through the Drinan verse, Macleod sought to develop a ‘documentary’ style which focussed upon community and locality, particularly the people of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, whilst referencing past atrocities such as the Clearances. ... Women, a sequence of forty-one soliloquies by speakers of the Hebridean Isle of Barra, was his most popular and well-received work, selling over 650 copies.

On the cover of his final Drinan book, Script From Norway (1953), a 2700-line poem written in the form of a film script, Macleod reveals himself as Drinan. Script follows a group of English and Scottish film makers in Norway, who intend to make a documentary about the nation and its people. It contains Scottish Nationalism, and its lines draw a parallel between Scotland and Norway as controlled by England and Sweden respectively.

Now, in an editorial collaboration between James Fountain and Andrew Duncan, Waterloo Press presents A Drinan Trilogy, consisting of The Cove (1940), The Men of the Rocks (1942) and Script From Norway (1953), three magnificent works of modernist verse which fully display Macleod’s capability for innovation, coupled with a focus upon history and an advocacy for both the country of his family’s origin, and the place that was most dear to him: Scotland. Each book is unique in its own right, but the three together capture the essence of an entire era of Macleod’s creativity.

from the Foreword by James Fountain

Macleod-Joseph_author 2012

Joseph Macleod (1903-84) was born in Ealing, and educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford. Both his parents were Scottish. He was a lifelong friend of Adrian Stokes and Graham Greene. His work was admired by Basil Bunting and J.H. Prynne. From the age of 13 he was preoccupied with the poetic drama. He qualified as a barrister, but never practised. In 1930, Faber published his modernist zodiac poem The Ecliptic. From 1930 he was working as an actor and producer for the avantgarde legend Terence Gray at the Festival Theatre, Cambridge, and in 1933 he became the lessee. He wrote several plays at this time. The lease ran for two years and ended badly. The surrealist myth-epic Foray of Centaurs, his next book, was not published. The “Posthumous poems of Joseph Macleod”, of 1937, in his papers, shows his frustration with the literary politics which sidelined him. After a radical move to the Left, and an increasing interest in radio and cinema, he struggled with the problems of a documentary response to contempor-ary history and the politics of the media. He went on publishing poetry under the name Adam Drinan: The Cove (1940), The Men of the Rocks (1942), Women of the Happy Island (1944) — then, as Macleod, The Passage of the Torch (1951), Script from Norway (1953), An Old Olive Tree (1971). Other works are preserved in his papers in the National Library of Scotland. He was an announcer for BBC radio from 1938 to 1945, and also scripted and presented programmes. He lectured on, and wrote numerous books on, theatre history. He moved to Scotland, and in 1946-47 he was managing director at Scottish National Film Studios. In 1946-7 he was chairman of Huntingdonshire Labour Party. He composed light music, and published a book on the sisters D’Aranyi, musicians. He lived in Florence from the middle 1950s.

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