Eddie Linden, who has died aged 88, was the editor of the poetry journal Aquarius, the creator of two books of poems, and the topic of a biography. But there has seldom been a much less seemingly literary determine.
Abandonment stalked Eddie all through his life, along with Catholic guilt – not least over his homosexuality – and the problem of semi-literacy. Regardless of being rejected at delivery by his single mom in Northern Eire, and the cruelty of these charged together with his care in Scotland, he retained an intrinsic decency, which he held to as a treasured possession. Within the mid- Nineteen Sixties, by which era he had settled in London, he started to forge a path within the literary world.
The primary difficulty of Aquarius appeared in 1969 and after that Eddie may journey additional on this new land, requesting and receiving poems from writers comparable to Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon, establishing friendships as he went.
Aquarius endured for 18 years, helpfully supported by figures comparable to George Barker and John Heath-Stubbs. The problems had been typically overseen by a visitor editor, however the prime line was “Editor: Eddie S Linden”. No actor seeing their title in lights ever felt extra proud. His first assortment, Metropolis of Razors, was printed in 1980. The title poem grew to become one thing of a traditional. It was adopted in 2011 by a particular poems, A Thorn within the Flesh.
He was born Sean Edward Glackin, in Coalisland, County Tyrone. To keep away from shame, his mom positioned him within the care of kinfolk in Bellshill, Lanarkshire. He took the title of his foster father, Eddie Linden, later the topic of the poem The Miner, which was one in every of Eddie’s favourites at public recitals. His poems had been saved in reminiscence and spoken aloud in bardic method, with eyes closed and chin raised, whereas pacing the ground. The impact was mesmerising.
When the temper took him, he may describe his early childhood as pleased, however the naked details are grim. His foster mom died when he was 9 and, as Eddie advised me some years in the past within the preparation of a profile for the Guardian: “In 1945 my father remarried and from then on my life grew to become hell. His new spouse didn’t need me.”
An experimental reunion together with his delivery mom, now residing in Glasgow, resulted in additional rejection – he had been left on her doorstep by the brand new spouse – and the following 4 years had been spent in an orphanage in Lanark run by the Sisters of Charity. Eddie carried many bleak recollections in his head, however few worse than that of “the massive black automotive that got here to take me away”.
The biography by Sebastian Barker, son of George, was printed in 1979 beneath the title Who Is Eddie Linden. (The omission of a query mark grew to become a subject of debate: a easy error or a stylistic gadget with existential undertones?) Eddie didn’t agree with every thing mentioned about him within the e book, however it’s only truthful to the youthful Barker to say that Eddie had a behavior of discovering issues to disagree about.
Alcohol performed an element in these tantrums, which frequently resulted in regret. When he associated the story of how he insulted the spouse of the Scottish poet Sydney Goodsir Smith in an Edinburgh pub, and that “she hit me over the top along with her purse”, it was straightforward to chuckle however unimaginable to not discover the profound mortification – though the incident had taken place 40 years earlier.
Ultimately, he obtained the higher of the bottle, and whereas his actions may nonetheless be unpredictable, his uncooked, childlike nature was extra more likely to present by way of, into his seventies and past. As Sebastian Barker as soon as mentioned: “Eddie notices every thing.”
There have been staging posts alongside the path to a special world. One was the Younger Communist League, which he joined in Scotland whereas in his teenagers. “At the moment, the Communist get together had schooling lessons,” he mentioned. “Not simply in Marxism, however in Dickens, in Shakespeare – and that was a discovery for me. Then there was the Staff’ Academic Affiliation. This was my means of getting away from that life.” Receipt of a bursary enabled a yr’s residence at Plater School, a Catholic institution in Oxford.
Aquarius was the best occasion of all. It was launched with £70 saved up from his job as a library porter. Along with his means to be fully himself within the presence of expertise and social standing – condescension was the one response he couldn’t forgive – Eddie endeared himself to among the main figures of the interval. Not solely Barker and Heaney, however Peter Porter, WS Graham – who appreciated to have Eddie shave him – Norman MacCaig and Goodsir Smith, whose spouse had wielded the purse. The good Glaswegian all-rounder Alasdair Grey was one in every of many who made portraits.
All contributed to Aquarius, as did Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Sensible and Douglas Dunn. Scottish, Irish and Australian poetry obtained particular points, together with ladies’s writing and the literature of the 40s. Ralph Steadman designed the quilt of 1 difficulty of the journal and portrayed Eddie in an abject pose on the jacket of Who Is Eddie Linden.
In 1995, a play impressed by Barker’s biography was staged on the Previous Pink Lion theatre in Islington, north London, with Michael Deacon within the function of the poet and editor. “It’s an exaggerated model of me,” Eddie advised me after the present. Exaggerated? Unattainable. I had thought it was an understatement.
It didn’t present what I considered the important Eddie: a redeeming determine, battling with life on our behalf, confronting struggles most of us by no means should face, rising concussed however semi-victorious. The occasions when he got here closest to answering the query Who Is Eddie Linden? had been when a brand new difficulty of Aquarius had simply come off the press.
He’s survived by his cousins Julie and Geraldine.