Information Services

About 'Scottish International Review'

'Scottish International Review' was a ground-breaking and controversial literary journal which published work verse, fiction, and critical essays by some of the most important Scottish writers of the 1960s and 1970s.

Overview

Funded by the Scottish Arts Council, Scottish International Review was published on a quarterly basis from January 1968 to May 1971, then as a monthly until the final issue in March 1974. It incorporated an earlier journal Feedback published by George Square Publishers on the Edinburgh University Campus. It was edited by Robert Tait from 1968 to August 1973 and by Tom Buchan from September 1973 until its closure. The editors were closely assisted by poets Edwin Morgan and Robert Garioch who served as literary advisers.

Editorial Policy

Looking back on his editorship of the journal in 1997, Robert Tait wrote:

'Its full name was Scottish International Review. Its masthead simply proclaimed Scottish International. It was meant as an announcement, a declaration that here was a magazine fit to present Scottish life and culture in any international forum and set it in international contexts. It claimed a rightful place for Scottish work, not least for Scottish poetry, in that wider world. It insisted that Scottish concerns and products should jostle for attention, right there in the pates of the magazine, with signs and products of social and cultural developments elsewhere, and so help nourish and sharpen in Scotland an appetite for seeing our own society and culture as part of an often disturbingly changing world.'

In line with this editorial policy, Scottish International Review published Scottish poetry and short fiction, translations from modern European authors (Czech, French, German, Italian, and Russian), and reviews and essays of contemporary literature, drama, art, and music. It also published articles on social and political issues of the day such as women's liberation, gay rights, the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, and the impact of North Sea oil on Scotland.

Controversy

Although it featured a wide range of material by both new and established Scottish writers, Scottish International Review met with hostility from a number of figures associated with the Scottish Literary Revival (including poets Hugh MacDiarmid, Tom Scott, and Alexander Scott) due to what they perceived as an anti-Scots language bias and a preference for ‘Beat’ and concrete poetry. Robert Tait felt strongly that this was a misconception, insisting that:

‘Our “programme” was to avoid any programmatic preconceptions as to any particular “direction” we hoped poetry would take, and in particular to avoid any programme as to what was Scottish in theme or language.’

Once the magazine became a monthly in 1971, further sources for controversy were its increasing coverage of social and political questions and, under the editorship of Tom Buchan, its courtship of a more youthful, counter-cultural audience.

Legacy

Financial difficulties eventually led to the closure of Scottish International (although its editorial staff attempted to keep the magazine going as Scottish Stardust). It is remembered for publishing some of the earliest writing by figures such as Andrew Greig, Alasdair Gray, Tom Leonard, and Liz Lochhead, for challenging male dominance of the Scottish literary scene by promoting writers like Elspeth Davies and Joan Ure, and for giving significant space to Gaelic writers like Iain Crichton Smith, Sorley Maclean, and Derick Thomson.

Further Reading

Bob Tait, 'Scottish International: A Brief Account', in Scottish Poetry Index: An Index to Poetry and Poetry-Related Material in Scottish Magazines, 1952- (Edinburgh: Scottish Poetry Library), vol. 6 (1997), pp. 63-65.

Related Links