Poetic Spark, The [Radio Scotland]

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20160410

2016041020160530 (RS)

The inscription on Muriel Spark's tombstone in Tuscany reads 'Muriel Spark. Poeta'.

Surprising perhaps: because, despite the fact that Spark always referred to herself as a poet, it's her reputation as a novelist, and the creator of the charismatic Jean Brodie, for which she's better known.

Before Muriel was anywhere near her prime, she'd established a reputation as a poet. Aged just fourteen, she won a prestigious poetry competition celebrating the centenary of Walter Scott. Later, she published several collections to glowing reviews and completed a controversial stint as Editor of the Poetry Review, during which time she gathered as many enemies as her fictional alter-ego, Jean Brodie (notably Marie Stopes about whom she famously quipped: 'I used to think it a pity that her mother rather than she had not thought of birth control')!

Muriel Spark kept writing poetry throughout her life. 10 years after her death, AL Kennedy, a long term admirer of her novels and short stories, wonders what new insights the poems might lend to her writing and character.

2016041020160530 (RS)

The inscription on Muriel Spark's tombstone in Tuscany reads 'Muriel Spark. Poeta'.

Surprising perhaps: because, despite the fact that Spark always referred to herself as a poet, it's her reputation as a novelist, and the creator of the charismatic Jean Brodie, for which she's better known.

Before Muriel was anywhere near her prime, she'd established a reputation as a poet. Aged just fourteen, she won a prestigious poetry competition celebrating the centenary of Walter Scott. Later, she published several collections to glowing reviews and completed a controversial stint as Editor of the Poetry Review, during which time she gathered as many enemies as her fictional alter-ego, Jean Brodie (notably Marie Stopes about whom she famously quipped: 'I used to think it a pity that her mother rather than she had not thought of birth control')!

Muriel Spark kept writing poetry throughout her life. 10 years after her death, AL Kennedy, a long term admirer of her novels and short stories, wonders what new insights the poems might lend to her writing and character.