OVER the years The Herald’s Diary has rewarded its loyal readership with innumerable treats, Animated anecdotes, punishing puns and a gaggle of giggle-worthy gags.

But perhaps the daily feature’s proudest moment came when it introduced the man who would become Scotland’s most remarkable poet, Walter McCorrisken.

McCorrisken, like William McGonagall before him, became famous as one of the vilest versifiers to ever have scratched pen on paper.

Now a documentary, the Renfrew Rhymer, has been produced celebrating the majesty of his mangled verse.

The film premieres on Renfrewshire Leisure’s online channel, Ren TV, this Sunday.

With the help of Walter’s son, Richard, filmmaker Paul Russell tells the tall but true tale of the Renfrew poet whose eccentric verse brought him to national prominence with numerous television appearances, including slots on the Parkinson and Barrymore shows.

Walter worked at Glasgow Airport, but spent much of his spare time writing the punishing poems that made his name.

He published 10 books of verse, including A Wee Dribble of Dross, which sold several thousand copies

(far more than most poetry volumes sell.)

His launchpad to fame came when he won The Herald Diary’s Bad Poetry Competition in the 1970s, which attracted more than 1000 entries.

The current Diary editor features prominently in the new film, discussing the Diary’s most infamous contribution to the Western canon of literature.

McCorrisken, who died in 2004, was also involved in the Diary’s campaign to erect a statue of Bud Neill’s Lobey Dosser cartoon character, which was finally erected on Woodlands Road in Glasgow. And he was a popular speaker and regular guest at the Lobey Dosser birthday parties.

In many ways he took up the mantle laid down by William McGonagall, the Dundee-based poet, often labelled the worst in the world. McGonagall’s odes, published to much bemusement in the Victorian era, included ‘The Tay Bridge Disaster’ and ‘The Famous Tay Whale’. He was outraged that his work wasn’t taken seriously.

McCorrisken, on the other hand, was impishly delighted by his infamy. In truth he tried very hard to write bad poetry. On occasion, when his guard was down, he accidentally produced a poem of distinction.

The Renfrew Rhymer is the highlight of this year’s Renfrew on Film event, which is usually held in Renfrew Town Hall as part of Renfrew Gala Week. Due to the current coronavirus lockdown,the festival moved online.

As well as the Walter McCorrisken story, Renfrew On Film will give viewers a nostalgic look into the past with films showing life in days gone by.

Director Paul Russell said: “As a film-maker, and with this specific Renfrew on Film event in mind, I’m always looking for interesting local stories to tell, and Walter appealed.

“He was very much in the Bud Neill and Chic Murray style of gentle, parochial humour I already adored. Self-effacing, clever, slightly surreal, immediately disarming and hilarious.

“After Walter passed away I felt his brilliantly funny poetry was at risk of being lost to future generations. Hopefully this film will help people remember his poems, but also learn a bit more about the man behind them.”

Renfrewshire Leisure chairwoman, Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes said: “Renfrew on Film has become a much anticipated staple of the Gala Week and hopefully this year’s event will help people celebrate Renfrew, its rich traditions, special days, past times and people. We are particularly delighted to be premiering Paul Russell’s fabulous Walter McCorrisken Film that shines a light on the life and work of one of the wonderful characters who makes Renfrew the great place it is.”

The Renfrew Rhymer premiered on Ren TV this Sunday at 7pm.