Poetry Scotland began in the 1940s when Maurice Lindsay started publishing books and anthologies of new poetry under this title. There were three issues of Poetry Scotland and a series of slim hardback books by poets of the day, including Hugh MacDiarmid.
Then there followed a hiatus until 1997 when, with Maurice Lindsay's support, Sally Evans and Ian King of Diehard Press began to publish Poetry Scotland as a broadsheet, aiming from the first to be inclusive, encouraging women, minority languages and people from country airts.
It’s easy to forget now but before the internet, living away from the cities was as much a disadvantage as any other: Poetry Scotland aimed to level the playing field and it quickly found its place among poetry magazines, publishing rhymed and unrhymed, long and short, political and personal, humorous, narrative, ballad, haiku and prose poems, in languages including Gaelic, Scots, Welsh & French. Periodic supplements focused on individual writers or particular topical events or themes, but the magazine itself concentrated presenting as broad a range as it could of work by both established and new poets.
Poetry Scotland's editorial process aimed for a quick response, printing and distribution, and it eschewed the various uncertainties of grant support, being wholly independently financed and at the same time, crucially, maintaining its affordability. Its circulation increased to include many poets in England and Wales as well as the Scottish core; outside the British postal zone, it catered for poets via its website which had its own poem section, Open Mouse, edited by Colin Will, who subsequently expanded Open Mouse as a blog in its own right until 2018.
Poetry Scotland was only one of Diehard's activities. Sally and Ian also published poetry collections from their base at King's Bookshop in Callander, and for many years hosted the Callander Poetry Weekend there, welcoming poets from around the British Isles and beyond and giving reading space to established and above all to new voices. Many poets were first encouraged into print in Poetry Scotland, and into performance at Callander: and friendships and connections were forged there which have endured and flourished. It's a proud, and impressive, record.
In 2019 Sally and Ian hosted the last of these weekends and in the same year, having reached their hundredth issue, they also retired from publishing the magazine.
After a brief hiatus, the magazine resumed under the editorship of Andy Jackson and Issue 101, published in 2021, sought to maintain the principles of breadth of inclusion, quick response, and affordability, that characterised the first 100 issues. Poetry Scotland has seen some interesting times, and it aims to see many more. Onward.