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Finlay, Ian Hamilton

 Person

Ian Hamilton Finlay was born in 1925 in Nassau, Bahamas, but returned to Scotland with his family as a child. During World War II he served in the RASC and afterward he worked as an agricultural laborer while he wrote short stories and plays, some of which were published in the Glasgow Herald or broadcast by the BBC in the 1950s. During this period he began writing rhyming poems which embodied native Scottish speech. The Dancers Inherit the Party was admired by American poets Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan.

The Wild Hawthorn Press was founded by Finlay and Jessie McGuffie in 1961 and the periodical Poor. Old. Tired. Horse ., published by them until 1968 served as a forum for new kinds of poetry which incorporated visual as well as verbal elements. In 1963 Finlay published Rapel, his first collection of concrete poems, and Standing Poem I , his first poem/card. In 1964 Finlay began to publish booklet-poems and poem/prints, as well as to experiment with poems set into a physical environment such as glass, wood, or stone. By autumn 1966 Ian and Sue Finlay settled at Stonypath, Dunsyre, Lanarkshire in the Southern Uplands of Scotland and began creating their reknowned garden. Finlay’s reputation as a concrete poet continued to grow throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He held his first one-man exhibition at the Axiom Gallery in London in 1968, and Ceolfrith Bookshop Gallery, Sunderland, held a retrospective exhibition on Finlay and Wild Hawthorn Press in 1970. In 1972 the Scottish National Gallery of Art mounted their own retrospective exhibition.

In 1968 Fulcrum Press agreed to publish a new edition of The Dancers Inherit the Party, but Finlay did not approve the changes they incorporated. The controversy aired in periodical editorial pages and among literary organizations and authors.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Ian Hamilton Finlay Correspondence

 Collection
Identifier: MS 35
Abstract Ian Hamilton Finlay was born in 1925 in Nassau, Bahamas, but returned to Scotland with his family as a child.  The McCormick Library holds a large collection of Finlay’s published poems, cards, prints, and booklets, as well as the issues of Poor. Old. Tired. Horse ., announcements of publications, and other pieces of ephemera.