May 27, 2011
This week we:
… said farewell to fabulous Strathclyde University student, Flora, who has been with us on a placement for three weeks.
… let out a delighted cheer at the launch of National Libraries day! How will you celebrate yours?
… listened while Syrian poet Golan Haji joins our Ryan in Residence in Beirut as part of the cultural collaboration festival of poetry, film and music: Reel Festivals. They take some time out to chat about about poetry, translation, borders and politics.
… continued to keep in touch with our Poetry Issues, featuring book recommendations and the centenary of the birth of Czeslaw Milosz.
… enjoyed fascinating glimpses of the Literature Across Frontiers 10th Anniversary Conference: Literary Exchange and Translation in the Euro-Mediterranean Region: challenges of the next decade through Nia Davies (niapolly) on twitter, while our director, Robyn, is in attendance in Istanbul.
… decided that this excellent new acquisition is not just for children: Poetry Basics: Concrete Poetry.
… continued our love affair with our new OPAC and the Poetry Beyond Text reading archive held therein.
… seriously debated combining all available personal funds for an immediate library field trip to Chicago for the Poetry Foundation’s incredible open house programme to celebrate the opening of their brand new building. If you, like us, don’t have quite a flight’s worth hiding down the back of the sofa, you can still experience at a distance by having a look around the Poetry Foundation’s lush new website.
… were unsurprised though moderately displeased by the resurgence of Autumn … in May.
Next week we will:
… be removing the booksale from our retail area! Catch it quickly, prices starting at 50p…
… hanging out at the Edinburgh City of Literature Wash Bar salon. Will we see you there?
… looking forward to an event-full week to follow: Poetry Beyond Text with Jim Carruth on Tuesday 7th June! Nothing but the Poems: Liz Lochhead edition on Thursday 9th! Book in on email@example.com.
This week’s staff #fridayread comes from: Lizzie, who will be traveling, and reading her annual Anthony-Trollope-on-a-train. For 2011 it’s The Small House at Allington.
August 6, 2010
…bade farewell and best luck to our two smashing front desk interns, Lisa and Laura, with a stellar raspberry and white chocolate cake
…noted the swell in folk in our part of town, accruing to partake of the festivals. Happy Festival Friday!
…stroked our chins and perused some programmes to bring you a selection of what’s hot poetry-wise this festival season
…were pleased to announce two upcoming collaborations: one with Genomics Network on a new poetry competition and the other with the Filmhouse on a season of films about poetry (full details forthcoming!)
…wished our neighbouring lunch purveyors - Foodies @ Holyrood – a souptastic first birthday!
…slavered over this lovely piece on Michael Donaghy on Poetry Foundation’s website
…got a bit covetous about Southbank Centre’s Litweeter Festival glorious Tweetwriter.
…did a clear out, unearthing, amongst other things, all manner of elderly library stamps.
…basked in the surprise of chancing daily upon Norman McBeath’s glorious photographs coupled with Paul Muldoon’s arresting poetry, part of our Plan B exhibition. Drop in, for free, to see!
…didn’t bask in the bizarrely unseasonal weather.
Next week we:
…are partying with the librarians and information workers of Edinburgh at ELISA’s festival party!
…continue to be very excited about the imminent start of the Edinburgh International Book Festival – from which this very blog will be coming! Why not read theirs in anticipation?
…take delivery of a very special acquisition… Come back next week and all will be revealed!
July 23, 2010
Julie prepares the library for our Edinburgh Art Festival exhibitions by putting up vinyl lettering and painting. Plan B, featuring the poetry of Paul Muldoon and the photography of Norman McBeath = photoetry and David Bellingham’s Animal Vegetable Material, a book of new texts and drawings by David Bellingham, distributed free of charge as a ‘public artwork’ during the Festival. Both free!
Our Poetry Reader arrives hot from the printers! Packed with: a celebration of Norman MacCaig in this his centenary year; a new ‘Meet Our Friends’ feature; a focus on National poetry Day 2010 and the theme of home; a closer look at our podcasts; first mention of an exciting new anthology of poetry selected by prisoners at Barlinnie and exclusive poem by Liz Lochhead; reading in bed with the delightful Elspeth Murray and MORE! Completely free!
The Forward Prize and the first ever Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry short lists. The winners of the Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition were also announced – to find out who came where, you’ll have to bag yourself a ticket for the prize-giving ceremony and reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival; what with this, and 4 of the 6 shortlisted on the Forward Prize Best Collection category appearing as part of their poetry programme selected by Don Paterson and us, we’re starting to feel the festival fever…
Wind: Variable. 4 or 5. In southwest, northerly or northwesterly 4 or 5, occasionally 6
Sea State: Slight or moderate.
Visibility: Monday – Wednesday: poor. Thursday & Friday: Good.
We urge you to spread the word about the plight of the late Charles Causley’s house: Custodian of the late poet’s house, The Charles Causley Trust has worked since 2004 to try to conserve for future generations the intact home and contents. Over £50, 000 has been raised, but £150,000 is required. For more information, and to find out how your wealthy philanthropist acquaintances can help…
We enjoyed M & S ginger biscuits.
We started to get excited about our Autumn/Winter programme, especially the collaborative ventures we’re lining up for your viewing pleasure…
Tomorrow feel free to join us for a reading from the ladies of Grey Hen Press. Between 2 – 3.30pm, A C Clarke, Joy Howard, Rosemary McLeish, Gina Shaw and Margaret Wood will read poems from Cracking On: Poems on ageing by older women. All folk of all ages most welcome… Afterwards, we’ll be mingling at Scotland’s newest writing social club, as the Forge of the Wordsmiths garden party hits the Scottish Book Trust.
Listened to our current podcast, featuring the multi-talented Kevin MacNeil?
Heard about our new opening hours, taking effect as of September?
See you next week? Wishing all a fabulous weekend!
June 18, 2010
We contemplated our summer reading lists!
We attended the launch of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, having assisted Don Paterson in selecting a poetry strand within the programme.
We ate toffee cake.
Geoffrey Hill was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford with 1,156 votes. He will be the 44th Professor of Poetry since the role was created in 1708. We’ve been following the campaign with interest…
We were delighted with the volume of applicants for our library assistant job. Thank you to all who applied, and for taking an interest in our library and our work. Candidates for interview will be contacted sometime next week. The applications have now closed, but the Edinburgh College of Art are seeking a library assistant.
We are pleased for HappenStance Press, publisher Helena Nelson and poet Selima Hill for their recent success in the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets.
With a little tutelage and a lot of encouragement from the lovely Chris Scott, we got our Flickr groove on! We’ll be building more content, including old and wonderful scans, as the weeks go on. What would you like to see there?
Our Robyn addressed the Cockburn Society for their annual meeting. On Twitter, @thecockburn said:
great job by Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library. Everyone really enjoyed the lecture! @ByLeavesWeLive
We are waltzing off into the weekend now! Lizzie’s on duty tomorrow – do pop in and say hello if you’re in the area. Most importantly, whatever you do this weekend, whatever you read, enjoy!
June 11, 2010
It’s been a busy week down Crichton’s Close in which we’ve grappled with the inclement weather (we might have to agree with Alastair Reid in his poem ‘Scotland’: it does seem like we’ve been paying for the recent glimmers of sun!). We are alert to the subsequent difficulties this makes in garment choice. How to dress for wind and rain in June!
We’ve also been getting Amb:IT:ious; as a partner organisation in the Get Amb:IT:ion Fund, which helps organisations achieve their 21st century sustainability ambitions through implementing integrated IT and digital developments, Julie and I have been attending road shows and webinars aplenty. The latest was in Edinburgh, and we greatly enjoyed the keynote address from Bill Thompson and the case studies from Katy Beale and Martin Reynolds and Faith Liddell from Festivals Edinburgh.
Lilias and I went for a delightful visit to the Tower Care Home where we read poems to Babs, Susan, Margaret, Ann, Mary and Annie. We were put to shame by their capacity to remember poems, such as Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’, learnt at school. We also got to indulge in a bit of singing, by belting out ‘Daisy, Daisy’ and ‘A Red, Red Rose’ (we had a flower theme!). Thankfully the ladies of the Tower Care Home are keen singers and were in fine voice on Tuesday morn.
Lisa, one of our two lovely front desk interns, has been filing poetry press cuttings amassed by our Alexei.
Lizzie had a lovely enquiry this week – an old lady had faint memories of a poem read to her at school in the 1920s, about being old – she could just remember:
‘Threescore and ten are the years o’ men,
And I’m bye the bit by a lang, lang year.
Sae I’ll seek my rest in the land loe’d best …’
Happily, it rang very faint bells with Lizzie too and turned out to be by John Buchan, written 1917! So Lizzie was able to send verified text to her grand-daughter just in time for the lady of the moment’s 100th birthday!
We enjoyed yet another excellent column from Kona Macphee, this time 10 rules for writers…
Robyn went to the Edinburgh College of Art degree show last night and was delighted to report that many students had heard of us and talked fondly of having visited themselves.
Tomorrow we’re looking forward to the 5th birthday party of HappenStance Press and next week we’ll be readying our Poetry Reader Issue 7 for print, discussing events and more. Till then, fellow travellers!
May 7, 2010
It’s been another busy week down Crichton’s Close. We welcomed the arrival of W S Graham’s ‘Untidy Dreadful Table’ with great joy, and spectated upon the power-hosing of our courtyard, which is now glittering in a sharp Friday afternoonish kind of sun.
We greatly enjoyed the Poetry Translation Centre’s Mexican poets, who were here with us on Saturday. If you weren’t among the hordes able to experience Zapotec aloud, you can glut yourself on the wonderful resources to be found on the Poetry Translation Centre’s website.
John Burnside has said that “Chase Twichell is one of America’s finest writers, a poet of philosophical depth, real engagement and profound compassion. Nobody writes better about what it means to be a conscientious participant in the daily miracle of this existence we share with other humans, with trees and stars and with the company of the animals.” You can imagine how excited we are to host her at the library here on Wednesday 12, 7.30pm, reading from her new collection, Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe) and talking with our Robyn about being a poetry editor, among other things. Here’s a sneak preview, courtesy of Pamela Robertson-Pearce, of Chase reading her poem ‘Savin Rock’.
Next Thursday, 6 – 7.30pm, brings a Nothing But the Poem reading group. Would you or your nearest and dearest like to renew your love of poetry with this fresh approach to reading? Free from criticism, reviews and hype, this is a chance to get up close and personal with just a few poems in a relaxed and friendly setting. To round off a busy week in events we’re jumping on the Museums at Night bandwagon and staying open late on Friday, in order to celebrate the library in all its beauty of the night. Starting at 8pm, we’ll have music from Jed Milroy, Chandra and Freight Train, a (‘haunted’) poetry tour and, of course, some poems! You know the Ben Stiller film Night at the Museum? It will be nothing like that.
New acquisitions this week, W S Graham’s table aside, include Douglas Robertson’s newly installed The Net Mender: an exhibition of box constructions and drawings. Douglas has collaborated with many poets, including Donald S Murray, Andrew Philip, Pascale Petit and Jen Hadfield and this exhibition fits the library space very beautifully. It’ll be in situ until Saturday 12 June.
Books wise, we were happy to take delivery of Chase Twichell’s Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New & Selected Poems, both for our collection and for sale at Wednesday’s event, and Identity Parade: New British and Irish Poets (both Bloodaxe) and Volume 2 of Timothy Neat’s biography of Hamish Henderson, Poetry Becomes People (Polygon). All coming to shelves near you soon!
April 23, 2010
This week we returned to our cake-enjoying ways with a toffee variant courtesy of Foodies down the road. We have a new face at the front desk – Lisa – and it would only be rude not to welcome her in the way we love best…
Tom Pow and his suitcase of Dying Village artefacts have taken up residency, from yesterday till tomorrow, by way of a recorded tour today with Ryan and Colin. He invites you to come and explore his finds, and enjoy the sights and sounds of his adventures, and listen to his stories at 1pm and 4pm tomorrow.
Speaking of audio, Tim Turnbull is the star of our current podcast, and hot on his heels next week we’re going to be hearing from the lovely folk of the Southbank Centre in London, including an excerpt from the amazing Bellowhead‘s folk opera version of ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner‘ featuring Lemn Sissay as the Mariner… OOH!
We can’t believe it’s a year since our Edwin Morgan Archive was launched to the world, which means it’s almost a year since Edwin Morgan’s 89th birthday, which means next week he’s 90. There’ll be plenty more where this came from then…
In this week’s events news, the Poetry Society’s Poetry Doctor and our regular blogging columnist Kona Macphee held a day of surgeries; Iain Matheson, frequent face at and friend of the library held a night of violin and poetry, in which lovely Dutch violinist Kees teamed up with librettist and Edinburgh Makar Ron Butlin.
Lorna was at the National Gallery of Scotland ‘Inspired? Get Writing!’ prize giving on Thursday (our warmest congrats to all involved), this time last week I was about to journey to the Dorothy Wordsworth Festival of Women’s Poetry at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our Robyn back from the U.S. We’ve also got some events plots up our sleeves… All this, and more, next week!
April 16, 2010
There hasn’t been a Happenings post for a while, which seems unbelievable, given the number of excitements that have occurred! Most notably, our noble Dave, front desk poetry jockey, has moved on. We rarely need an excuse for cake consumption, so Dave’s departure was no different. Here’s to the next adventures of Dave!
We’ve been eventing in all kinds of ways, most recently just last night with a Nothing But the Poem session here with Ryan, Stewart Conn’s launch and the week before with Dark Matter: Poems about Space.
Next up in the events realm is Tom Pow’s Dying Villages residency from Thursday – Saturday next week, when he’ll settle in and unpack his suitcase of poems, stories, images and sounds gathered while exploring the dying villages of Europe, from Spain to Russia. There’s also an exhibition, displaying a range of artefacts from the Dying Villages Museum. Installed just yesterday, and photographed above, it looks great.
Our Robyn is in the U.S. visiting our siblings in poetry Poets House in New York, Poetry Foundation in Chicago and the Poetry Society of America, among others.
We were pleased to hear this sound snap, recently acquired by the British Library, of Ted Hughes and Sylvia discussing poetry and their relationship.
Off for a few art and poetry fixes this weekend: Julie is exhibiting work over in Glasgow at the Glasgow International Artists Bookfair and I’m skipping down to Grasmere to the Dorothy Wordsworth Festival of Women’s Poetry!
Julie joined Twitter! You can now follow her on @poetrylibrarian!
We’re closed on Monday 19 for the April holiday, so see you tomorrow or Tuesday! Wishing you all a great weekend…
March 5, 2010
We’re not usually so lavish with the old exclamation marks, but Poets for Haiti at the Queen’s Hall on Sunday evening merits them. Raising £12,000 for the work of the Mercy Corps, almost 900 tickets and six full raffle books were sold. The poets drove the audience through the gamut of emotions, sometimes hilarious, sometimes pensive, always electric.
Ron Butlin got the crowd warmed up with a commissioned poem about Inspiring Edinburgh, and Gillian Clarke awed them with a lament for Haiti. Alasdair Gray charmed with a condensed history of Scotland, Liz Lochhead amused with her theatrical advice for telling a story and Aonghas MacNeacail managed to squeeze all three of Scotland’s languages into a 5 minute set. Next up, Frances Leviston read one tender poem, before Robert Crawford changed the mood again with his rousing ‘Clan Donald’s Call to the Battle at Harlaw’. John Glenday opened with a love poem inspired by the tin opener – not invented till 47 years after the tin can – and Imtiaz Dharker caused great merriment with her poem about being over the moon. Don Paterson ended the first half with a lovely poem in which he explains to his son what he does for a living in ‘Why Do You Stay Up So Late?’
After much interval jollity and flogging of raffle tickets for the Blackwell’s donated Wanderings with a Camera in Scotland signed by all the participants, John Sampson opened proceedings in an Amadeus-esque wig and whistle with Eine Kleine Nacht Musik, before Carol Ann Duffy drew the raffle. Jackie Kay opened the second act poets-wise, treating us to a sparkling performance; first a hilarious imagining of Maw Broon getting acquainted with her nether regions in ‘Maw Broon does the Vagina Monologues’, then ‘Darling’, a heart-stilling elegy to her friend and fellow poet Julia Darling. Bill Herbert celebrated the stookie, Kathleen Jamie the Queen of Sheba and Rody Gorman poked fond fun at place names of the Highlands. Sean O’Brien responded to Liz Lochhead’s piece about the theatre, you couldn’t hear a pin drop when Vicki Feaver ended her set with a tremulous hymn, before Andrew Greig honoured his father’s tool shed.
Douglas Dunn, whose line ‘Look to the living, love them, and hold on’ from ‘Disenchantments’ was projected onto the Castle Rock as part of the Carry a Poem campaign, and which provoked a chap to propose to his partner, read a snatch from that poem, saying ‘I hope they won’t blame me if it goes wrong!’ Of course the curtain was brought down by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who read three poems, among them ‘Premonitions’, re-imagining her mother not dead, but youthful, alive. You can get a copy to keep, part of our collaborative Poet Laureate postcard series.
This was an evening of poetry unlike any other, featuring a line up of people who’ve never shared a stage before and may not again, uniting for a fantastic cause. Carol Ann Duffy has said it was “the largest, loveliest Scottish audience for poetry ever. The evening will stay with me all my life.” We tip our hats to that.
You can still donate to Mercy Corps by visiting their website: http://www.mercycorps.org.uk/
February 26, 2010
If you’ve been following Our Sweet Old Behind the Scenes natterings, you’ll know this month has been packed with exquisite poetic activity, including a poetry pub quiz, Mr John Hegley, poems projected, and poems explored, poems in gardens and crafty poems, Poetry Olympics: plenty poems carried every place, all in honour of the city-wide Carry a Poem campaign.
There are a few events left to sate your poetry-loving appetites, namely Kind of Larkin tonight at the Central library (John Sessions voice accompanies Don Paterson’s jazz guitar); Getting Into Poetry tomorrow morning here with our Lilias, Old Town Poetry Trail with Ken Cockburn, and of course, the big mama of all poetry readings – Poets for Haiti at the Queen’s Hall on Sunday night. We’ll be blogging about that, and our reactions to the Carry a Poem campaign at large, next week.
News from the library this week, meanwhile: our sonnets exhibition went live, Don Paterson’s upcoming sonnets event on Tuesday 2 March has sold out; Dave bought doughnuts; Lilias dispatched our Poetry Issues – send with passionate abandon to all librarians of your ken! – Julie and I attended the very interesting ‘Listening Online’ webinar, hosted by Amb:IT:ion Scotland on Thursday and Richard Holloway’s Hugh MacDiarmid Lecture (a joint event with us and the PAS) is booking up swiftly.
See you on the other side!