The Still Life Poet



Scotland's National Poet, Liz Lochhead, came across one poem of Soutar's that gave her the shivers, but she knows very little about the man and the rest of his work.

William Soutar produced many collections of poetry, most of which he wrote in one room and in what was to become his deathbed. Soutar had developed a debilitating condition of the spine which paralysed him from the waist down. Unable to move and with only a window to see the world, he became a Still Life Poet.

In his final years, Soutar wrote diaries which show a man with a wicked sense of humour, caricaturising his numerous bed side visitors and turning his ailments into playful rhymes. We also discover a mind that dissects everything from war, religion, sex and mortality, through to the songs sung by the blackbirds outside his window.

William Soutar was arguably one of Scotland's greatest poets and a key figure of the Scottish Literary Renaissance but why has his name been buried?

Liz Lochhead travels to the Soutar house in his hometown of Perth to find out and to assess how this sense of place, along with his disability, shaped his writing with the help of people who believe his name and work should be remembered.

Readings by Monty d'Inverno

Produced by Emily Smallman.