Robert Burns: Not In My Name reclaims Scottish bard from tourism

This article is from 2011

Robert Burns: Not In My Name reclaims Scottish bard from tourism

Kevin Williamson showcases radical subversive poetry at Edinburgh Festival 2011

So, you think you know Robert Burns, eh? Tartan-edged poetry for shortbread tins and corporate haggis suppers? Well, Kevin Williamson, founder of 90s publishing punks Rebel Inc (Children of Albion Rovers) has decided to change your mind. His new multimedia show focuses on reclaiming Rabbie from the heritage industry and showing people the charged, political revolutionary behind the kailyard iambics.

‘Surprisingly, given how ubiquitous Robert Burns is, few people have heard his radical subversive poetry performed live,’ says Williamson, who describes the vicious satires and underground revolutionary anthems he’s reviving as ‘the dangerous stuff Burns couldn’t put his name to in his lifetime’. The poems are going to be linked into a chronological narrative by a series of 12 videos (made by award-winning filmmaker Alastair Cook, who specialises in setting poetry to film), and set to a new soundtrack by composer Luca Nasciuti. Williamson wants to perform the poetry as he believes Burns might have, had he been around today.

‘I’m hoping to show it still packs a powerful punch, and sends people away with a more complete perspective on our national poet.’

National Library of Scotland, 226 0000, 4–12 & 24–28 Aug, 7pm, £8 (£5).

Robert Burns: Not in My Name

Linked by a sequence of video narratives this is the radical subversive poetry of Robert Burns, the dangerous stuff he couldn't put his name to during his lifetime, performed by poet, iconoclast, and counter-culture legend, Kevin Williamson (founder of the (in)famous Rebel Inc publishing house). From the vicious political…