February 13, 2009
This week the SPL has a packed events programme celebrating the many-splendoured nature of love! Lilias has worked like a trooper decorating the library, inspired this year by bites at the apple and the Garden of Eden. With pain-stakingly gold-leafed apples, fairy lights, and perhaps most impressive of all, a heart-shaped bower, this week’s Blue Peter badge goes to her.
On Tuesday night we had a Close Encounter with Kate Clanchy, the last in our season of four such events in partnership with the National Library of Scotland (earlier in the autumn we had visits from John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie and Benjamin Markovits). Kate looked closely at two of her poems,’Driving to the hospital’ and ’Driving Home’, and one by Sharon Olds, ‘The Language of the Brag’, comparing the different ways in which she and Olds record motherhood. Her thoughts, on the dearth of poems written about motherhood and the received stigma attached (her third collection, Newborn, came under fire for dealing with the ‘trivialities’ of birth and babies) were intelligently put forth, and much debate ensued between her and the 30-odd people who’d battled through the snow to be here.
Wednesday night welcomed Sophie Hannah, a joint event hosted by us and the Poetry Association of Scotland, and her bubbly, anecdotal style of delivering some of the most wittily love-lorn poems around. Her Pessimism for Beginners (Carcanet, 2007) was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and was the 2007 Poetry Book Society Winter Choice, and she bantered her way through poems charting the vagaries of love and life (‘no ball games ETC? I’ve always wondered what that ETC means, so I’ve written a poem pondering it…’). After a spot of wine and a browse of Sophie’s books, provided thanks to Claire at Blackwells, there was a convivial chat with PAS chair Joyce Caplan.
Stewart Conn, SPL’s own Lorna Irvine and Kirsteen McCue wooed the assembled with a romp through 100 Favourite Scottish Love Poems (edited by Stewart, Luath, 2007) last night. What with Lorna lending her voice to the recitation, Kirsteen’s wonderful classically trained lungs and Stewart’s edifying explanations, the top note of the evening was one of pure enjoyment. One satisfied customer, on being asked what they enjoyed most about the event, simply said ‘all of it.’ Result!
There are three events left in our love marathon: we’re looking forward to hearing A L Kennedy‘s Selected Works at 7.30pm tonight. Tomorrow we have Irene Brown, Anne Connolly and Colin Will celebrating prime-time love in Time’s Fool at 2pm, followed by the deliciously, darkly comic shenanigans of Tim Turnbull and Robin Cairns hosting our Valentine’s Book Party: another bite at the apple, at 6pm.