Orcadian cadences: celebrating the reclusive poet George Mackay Brown

Few journalists can have conducted such a dismal interview as mine with George Mackay Brown in the summer of 1992. The Times had sent me to Orkney, and the night before we met I sat up in my B&B reading his poetry, spellbound. So much to ask him! But that first meeting was a disaster. Brown was so shy he answered my questions in monosyllables. After five minutes he sat back and rested his lantern jaw on long hands, silent. Seamus Heaney called Brown ‘the praise singer’. There was no singing that afternoon. But the next day I ran into Brown at Mass (he was that rare thing, an Orcadian