'No poet in Scotland now can take as his inspiration the folk impulse that created the ballads, the people's songs, the legends of Mary Stuart and Prince Charlie,' proposed Edwin Muir. Yet many of the poems in Mick Imlah's new collection do take the most over-worn of Scottish myths as their apparent starting points, spanning the Wallace and the Bruce; the Bonnie Prince (pivotal Lost Leader of the title), Robert Burns and Walter Scott; whisky, Clydeside and football. Imlah's approach to this folklore is brilliantly fresh, a modern, sardonic but strongly-felt rendering of Scotland: from AD 500, by way of a guided tour of Iona, to yesterday at a Dumfries bus depot. And, as the chronicle reaches the twentieth century, the poems turn to friends and family - childhood reminiscences, elegies and celebrations - influenced still by sporting and military fantasy, the charm of history and the power of anachronism.
Mick Imlah was born in 1956 and brought up near Glasgow and in Kent. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he subsequently taught as a Junior Fellow. He was editor of Poetry Review from 1983 to 1986, and worked at the Times Literary Supplement since 1992. His poems have appeared in The Zoologist's Bath (1982), Birthmarks (1988), Penguin New Poets 3 (1994) and Diehard (2006). He has edited The New Penguin Book of Scottish Verse (with Robert Crawford, 2000) and made selections for Faber of the poems of Tennyson and Edwin Muir.