September 30, 2009
As with all things autumnal and back to schoolish, the Poetry Association of Scotland are kicking off their Autumn/Winter programme tonight here at the SPL. Donny O’Rourke is the man of the evening, and the usual fine fayre of poetry, wine and a few choice questions from PAS chairperson Joyce Caplan is promised.
The PAS were founded in 1924, and are still going strong, holding Wednesday night events here at the SPL, costing a mere £5, £3 concessionary rate, or free entry on payment of an annual membership of £20 (£15 for concessions). Their website gives a good flavour of what to expect in the coming months, as well as an idea of visitors past.
September 29, 2009
Today’s been a day for chasing copy. Some time ago, we asked Facebook friends and Twitter folk what poem they carried with them, and received a pleasing number of replies. Many of these simply said “I really like Philip Larkin’s ‘Trees”’ or: “‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost has been a good, good friend to me.” Now, in preparation for the unveiling of our Carry a Poem website, which will be launched on National Poetry Day, we are chasing stories, seeking embellishment and being nosy. We want to know the tale behind the poem you carry, and we’ve already had a few lovely, thoughtful responses today. We’re greedy for more!
Here, for example, is L’s poem and the story behind it.
Mine is John Hegley’s ‘PhanTom’. It’s a whimsical little poem but it struck a chord with me. I’d come across it in a newspaper, at a time, many years ago, when I was having to come to terms with the fact I wasn’t ever going to have a child, and it’s been in my purse ever since. Very yellow and fragile now. I don’t really know why I keep it – well, I suppose I do – because I now have a lovely daughter – and I suppose keeping hold of the poem was a keeping hold of the hope.
If you have a poem you carry with you, and you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it. You can either respond to this post, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s some guideline questions that might help:
- Where and when did you first encounter the poem?
- What did it mean to you then? How did it make you feel? Did it change you in any way?
- What does it mean to you now?
- Do you actually carry it? (e.g. in your head, on your ipod, in your wallet or diary, etc)
- And would you be willing to take part in audio/video recording for our Carry a Poem site?
We’d be very glad to have your stories on board.
September 28, 2009
If you check in regularly you’ll know that Saturday was our By Leaves We Live annual artists’ books and small presses fair, one of the biggest, favouritest days in the SPL calendar. It coincided with Doors Open Day in Edinburgh, to entice those folks who maybe hadn’t visited before, as well as a large number of arts, crafts and book lovers. We welcomed 26 stall-holders in total (one ‘stall’ was our cunningly-placed, formerly legless chair, and another was Kona Macphee perched on a comfy wicker chair behind some wooden blocks), but fair organiser and librarian Julie managed to squeeze everyone in.
Over 500 people floated in throughout the day, to tempt their purses with some properly delicious book gear and listen to our talks upstairs. These were free, and filled on a first come first served basis, our audiences alerted to their imminence by our Robyn on a loud horn. We welcomed Isabelle Ting from the Owl & Lion Gallery talking about the process of making a book and answering questions about bookbinding; David Faithfull told of an artist book created on the Isle of Jura in collaboration with the poet John Burnside; SALT + SHAW talked about how location influences the production of their artists’ books; novelist and indie publisher Hamish MacDonald (whose stall boasted the tiniest book of the day!) guided us through making a simple chapbook and Hugh Bryden of Roncadora Press explained how he finds a balance between the poetic and visual elements in a pamphlet.
We had a marvellous day, were thrilled with the quality of the exhibitors and the numbers of folk filling the library, and are still making our way through the M&S flapjacks bought for the occasion. There are loads more pictures on Facebook, if you’re on there, and if not then you’ll pleased to know we’ll be joining Flickr this week I hope… Did you make it along? If so, what did you think?
September 25, 2009
We spent today preparing for By Leaves We Live, our annual celebration of artists’ books and small presses by blowing up balloons, conscripting a friend called Danny, who only called in to say hello. Dave and Colin (resident podcaster and editor of Anon magazine) busily tied massive pieces of string round said balloons (‘like putting a lead round, really’, spake Dave), and Julie directed the whereabouts and whatabouts of tables, table cloths and book displays.
WE ARE EXCITED! We hope we’ll see loads of you tomorrow to peruse our lovely wares and those of our participating artists. Participants and details of free talks running throughout the day can be found out here. More things have happened this week, but they can summed up in few words: concrete poetry, flapjacks, honig filled sweets from Berlin and the excitement that an events programme fresh from the printers can bring…
September 25, 2009
The Scottish Poetry Library is looking for someone self-employed to take up this part-time post.
We are a small, friendly arts organisation off the Royal Mile, and our book-keeper/accountant will be someone with several years of experience, preferably within the arts/charities sector. He or she will work 5 to 8 hours a week on a variety of tasks, from petty cash to purchase ledger, to quarterly accounts and year-end balance sheets. Experience of using SAGE is highly desirable.
To apply, send in your CV with a covering letter, the name of 2 referees and a note of your hourly rates to email@example.com. Applications close on 5 October, and we are looking for someone to start as soon as possible.
September 16, 2009
Edgar Allan Poe with your lunch, sir? If you passed through St Andrew Square Garden today, you might well have been favoured with a personal poem recital from our Poetry Orators. Actors Jamie and Gilchrist charmed their audiences with a mix of Shakespeare (‘I grant I never saw a goddess go / My mistress when she walks treads on the ground…’), Burns, Poe and, erm, a poem about the pleasures of relieving yourself… The highlight was an eight-minute rendition of ‘The Raven’ (the whole thing! by heart!) about which Lilias commented: ‘It’s made me weak!’ The Orators took this as a compliment.
We’ll be back in the Poetry Garden on National Poetry Day, handing out poem postcards to the rush-hour crowds – we may even be able to tempt Jamie and Gilchrist back for an encore.
September 15, 2009
A consultant is required to carry out a feasibility study into developing the Poetry Garden in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
Summary: The Scottish Poetry Library, on behalf of the Poetry Garden in St Andrew Square Steering Group, wishes to appoint a consultant to carry out a feasibility study into the proposed development from 2010-2013 of Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square as a space for poetry in the heart of the city.
Growing the Poetry Garden
St Andrew Square, recently opened to the public for the first time in generations, has been officially designated as a place for poetry in the heart of Edinburgh, first UNESCO City of Literature. Already the Garden features poems on the glass of the Coffee Republic pavilion and on surrounding buildings, and occasional poetry events.
The Poetry Garden Steering Group proposes to further develop poetry in St Andrew Square and to establish the Garden as an oasis of imagination. We want to bring people into the Garden to discover poetry in the heart of a vibrant literary city, to enrich the experience of those visiting the Garden, and to stimulate the people’s enjoyment of poetry. The feasibility study will provide a blueprint for this development.
The successful applicant will:
- Identify potential sources of support and involvement, in cash and in kind, that will enable us to carry out our three-year plan for the Poetry Garden
- Suggest funding model/s, encompassing corporate sponsorship and public funding
- Identify businesses, community/arts/funding organisations, and individuals with whom we can develop relationships with a view to securing support for the garden
- Identify needs of potential funders and recommended methods of approach to secure funding
- Identify potential barriers to success
- Make recommendations as to how the steering group should develop and how the Poetry Garden project should be run long-term
The successful applicant will have excellent business and cultural contacts within Edinburgh, extensive knowledge of arts funding sources including corporate, public and trust funding, and a proven track record in conducting feasibility studies and delivering project outcomes.
Interested applicants should email Jane Alexander, firstname.lastname@example.org, for full details including fee and timescales, consultancy brief and the Poetry Garden three-year development plan.
Deadline for expressions of interest and intended approach: Tuesday 13 October 2009.
September 15, 2009
On Monday morning at the SPL, we were launching a new poetry competition for students, set up by Poppyscotland with SPL support. The theme is ‘Remembrance’, and the entries will come from P4-7 and S1-3. Now the last veterans of the Great War have died, and the generation that lived through World War II is slowly disappearing, how do we keep remembering and why? These are questions for a much wider group than school pupils. We were fortunate to have Lt Col ‘JB’ Brown at the launch, speaking to the audience about writing poetry when serving in Iraq and other places. For JB it all began with Thomas Hardy, and a grandfather who ignited his passion for poetry. He’s been carrying a poem by Siegfried Sassoon in his wallet for many years now. Lizzie was able to show him some anthologies of war poems that he hadn’t come across before.
Lorna has been running schools workshops in November under the title ‘Ghosts of War’ for several years now, and some poems from those are included in the SPL anthology Poet Makar Bard 2. There’s one with a marvellous last verse, inspired by seeing the Bible pierced by a bullet in the National War Museum:
The ways we remember the loved ones we lost –
Running in the fields, bibles on their hearts.
September 11, 2009
There’s cake in the building, so it must be Friday… it’s of the banana loaf variety. We’re all a bit wary since reading the article in the Guardian this week on the dangers of eating biscuits (particularly killer custard creams). Not dangers of a dietary nature, but, they make you accident prone apparently. But fortunately for staff here, our favourite, the jaffa cake, comes out of the research as the least dangerous biscuit (cake).
It’s been a busy week here as usual. We’ve been packing up the Edwin Morgan Archive exhibition, Bawr Stretter!, to go off on a seven library tour of Dumfries & Galloway, starting with a stint at the Wigtown Book Festival.
We’ve also had the pleasure of having Andrew Greig in the library this week. Here he is comfortably reading his way through all the poetry published by Scottish poets in late 2008, and so far in 2009. He’s this year’s editor for the SPL’s online Best Scottish Poems. You’ll get to find out which 20 poems he has chosen in March.
Our Ivor Cutler exhibition is officially over, but we haven’t yet taken it down… so if you’re still feeling inclined, there’s still time. It’ll be up for another week yet. Unofficially and quietly. It’s been nice hearing the odd chuckles coming from visitors as they encounter him in the photos and on the dvd that’s playing.
Dave’s been cataloguing lots of new CDs – they’ll be on the shelves soon. And I’ve been putting the finishing touches to the postcard for our A Model of Order concrete poetry exhibition and events extravaganza. Jane and Robyn have been putting the finishing touches to our Annual Report, and Lizzie has had her head deep in enquiries and research as usual. And we had a session for teachers this week to help them prepare for National Poetry Day.
Well, we’ll sign off there for this week. Happy weekends to all.
September 9, 2009
Good afternoon! Resident front desk-jockey Dave here filling in for regular blogger Peggy, who is off on her travels.
Needless to say, events have certainly not ceased to transpire in her absence. This afternoon I was greeted at the (usually immaculately tidy) front desk with sixteen hefty-looking boxes full of our brand new National Poetry Day postcards. They are mysterious and enticing, no? This year’s theme is Heroes and Heroines, and as Ryan’s NPD blog attests, there are no Batmans (Batmen?) in the collection: this year’s poems focus on the small acts of kindness and stoicism which happen in quieter, more unassuming ways.
This is not, of course, to stand in the way of anyone who wants to write their own Superman haikus or X-Men villanelles.
We will be keeping a tight lid on any further details until National Poetry Day itself, when our Heroes and Heroines will be unmasked across the UK. In Edinburgh, the postcards will be distributed freely at the poetry gardens in St Andrews Square at lunchtime on Thursday the 8th of October. It will almost certainly be a unseasonably blistering autumn afternoon. There’s a load of stuff going on nationwide, the majority of which is free, with details all over the NPD website.