George Mackay Brown

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Episode 3 of 6

Duration: 30 minutes

Poet and author Owen Sheers presents a series in which he explores six great works of poetry set in the British landscape. Each poem explores a sense of place and identity across Britain and opens the doors to captivating stories about the places and the lives of the poets themselves.

George Mackay Brown, who died in 1996, was the great poetic voice of the Orkneys and one of the foremost Scottish poets of the 20th century. Sheers travels to the place the locals call the Venice of the North, the Orkney town of Stromness, which was Mackay Brown's home and the backdrop for much of his work, including his great poem Hamnavoe.

In Hamnavoe, the Viking name for Stromness, Mackay Brown takes the reader on a nostalgic and blustery tour of the town in the footsteps of his father, the local postman. Sheers uses the poem as a tour guide to Mackay Brown's Orkney life and work, exploring the narrow streets where George was born and wrote his first poems and taking diversions to the great cathedral of St Magnus, the Norse patron saint of the islands, and the remote island of Rackwick.

The poem opens up a moving story of a father and son and showcases Mackay Brown's exquisite, concise, gem-like writing. With ravishing views of the islands in the distinctive Orcadian light, the programme is a hymn to a unique corner of Britain. It also features, among other friends and fans of Mackay Brown, the contemporary Scottish poet Don Patterson.

Credits

Presenter
Owen Sheers
Executive Producer
Fiona Morris
Producer
Rupert Edwards
Director
Rupert Edwards

Broadcasts

Poetry season

TS Eliot

Let poetry into your life: Explore poetry and discover our favourite poet

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