The Postal Service

April 29, 2009

StampsWe’ve already spoken about our poetry outposts round the country, but some of you may not know that we also offer a postal service. Many people, for one reason or another, are unable to visit us in person, and though there are lots of internet resources available, from listening posts, like the Poetry Archive, to blogs like ours, some people prefer a book or audio CD dropping through the letterbox.

You need to be a borrower of the SPL first, then you can simply phone, email or write us a letter requesting up to six titles. You can browse our catalogue first, or have us do that for you. At this end, we get the package together, the requested titles and a Freepost label so you can avoid the post office queue. We ask for £1 per item (50p for audio items) to cover the cost of postage both ways, but this service is completely free to Friends of the library. And you dont have to live in Scotland to partake of this nifty service – we deliver to the rest of the UK and Ireland too.

Our regular postal borrowers, though there’s many we’ve never actually met, have become distant penpals, telling us what they thought of this poem on page 67, or asking for top tips for their next delivery. Sometimes we sneak surprises in, based on what they’ve borrowed before.

Do you know someone who’d like to receive a parcel of lovely poetry through the door? If so, pick up the phone and just call us. 0131 557 2876. Like pizza, but poetry.

Two unusual visitors

April 28, 2009

And just enough time before the dinner bell for something entirely different. Sirus and Io are infrequent but welcome visitors.

‘I like the way ye cock yer lug
Wee freenly dug …’
from WD Cocker’s eponymous poem

Thanks be to Lizzie for finding the above.
Sirus and Io

Photos, as promised…

April 28, 2009

Here’s a few snaps of yesterday’s festivities, as promised

Bawr stretter

Badges, bookmarks, booklets, Bawr stretter!, the name of our exhibition of EM’s work, also opened yesterday.

(word) hoards/hordes

We didn’t get an exact figure, but we reckon 89 people on an 89th birthday party is a fine guesstimate…

EM cuts the cake

EM cuts his birthday cake, to much cheering, clapping and snapping. We never did see a more Bruce Bogtrottery cake…


Hamish, caught mid-think, on being asked, how do you rate the cake? (9/10, if you care to know).

Malcolm and Mike

SPL architect Malcolm Fraser and Mike Wade, who wrote this nice piece in The Times, have an intense discussion. This was unposed. Ok ok, it was completely posed.

Ron and Liz

Two of EM’s long-term pals, Edinburgh Makar Ron Butlin and Glasgow’s Poet Laureate Liz Lochhead.

Ron, Mike Russell, EM

Ron made a toast in which he called EM ‘the grandest possible grand old man’. We concur.

This way...


Edwinday postscript

April 27, 2009

Many returns happy/ Many turns happier/ Happy turns remain: first three lines of 'The Computer's First Birthday Card' on EM's birthday cake

Many returns happy/ Many turns happier/ Happy turns remain: first three lines of 'The Computer's First Birthday Card' on EM's birthday cake

The party for the formal opening of the Edwin Morgan Archive, the unveiling of our Bawr Stretter! exhibiton and the man of the hour’s birthday simply couldn’t have gone better. And he was here to celebrate with us, to cut the cake and receive many many warm wishes on his 89th birthday. Minister for Culture Mike Russell laughed his way through an ad hoc speech, having jettisoned ‘the one someone had written for [him]’ to deliver heartfelt praise for the impact EM’s work had on him as a student. Liz Lochhead read EM’s poem ‘A View of Things’, and reminisced about the time she read on his behalf at the opening of the Scottish Parliament – ‘undoubtedly her scariest gig’, the more so for following Nicola BenedettiHamish Whyte expressed his gladness that the archive could be enjoyed by many.

Also of note: our postman, wading in in the middle of the speeches to deliver our post, probably wondering why we were all quaffing champagne at 1pm; singing happy birthday to EM and the three cheers that nearly brought the roof down; the tang of strawberries throughout the library; EM’s birthday balloon, a gift from his two year old pal Maya; Anne Connolly, having pruned her bay tree, having brought us bags of dried bay leaves.

We hope that you will drop in and see us and the archive.


April 27, 2009

Jaffa cakesThe jaffa cakes (EM’s favourites) and strawberries (in honour of ‘Strawberries’) are in place. We’ve swept the courtyard and mopped the floors. The sound system is ready. Julie (and her husband David) gets the Very Special Blue Peter Badge for her Olympian efforts with the exhibition, which I don’t mind saying, looks gorgeous. If you’re on Facebook, you can see some sneak preview snaps of the exhibition on our profile.

I just asked for a quote from Julie, and she said, ask the Loch Ness Monster. I did. S/he said: Zgra kra gka fok! It started a bit of a debate: is the Loch Ness Monster male or female? We thought female…

Happenings 5

April 25, 2009

The Loch Ness Monster's Song
Many of our happenings, as you’ll have guessed, have concerned themselves with our Edwin Morgan Archive. With the formal opening on Monday (hereafter known as ‘Edwinday’, with thanks to Carcanet publisher Michael Schmidt) (and expect a full report with photies on Our Sweet Old Etc!), Julie and Lisa have been working hard to get everything ship shape. You’ll be able to visit for yourself from Tuesday, inspect the wonders therein and snag a badge.

Julie has been doing a lot of poetic vinyl lettering. ‘The Loch Ness Monster’s Song’ took 5 hours of intricate measuring and spirit leveling. When the parcel of letters arrived, Julie noticed that one of the ‘fok’s was mistakenly a ‘fol’ so there was a special ‘k’ delivery the next day… You can hear the man himself read the poem at the wonderful Poetry Archive site.

On Wednesday, Lilias and her travellers well and truly got into poetry.

Thursday welcomed Worldwide Reads: From India to Scotland, an event in collaboration with the British Council following Robyn’s February trip to the Kolkata Book Fair. We enjoyed Gaelic and Bengali among other languages, in original and in English translation, with writers including Meg Bateman and Udaya Narayana Singh. They complimented us on our tea-making skills. We were pleased.

On Friday, we had our Ian Hamilton Finlay tapestry rehung. It had been on loan to the Dovecot Studios, and the first attempt at rehanging was aborted because the ladder was too short. Friday’s ladder certainly wasn’t.

Our Biscuit of the Week (we’re saving our cake treat for Monday) goes to the Marks & Spencer Biscuit Curl. Unfortunately a picture cannot be found. Take our word for it; we know good biscuits and they’re good.

I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding items he had collected over the years related to his band. He was concerned about whether he should retain entire magazines or just cut out their review. After some thought over the implications of retaining these magazines (storage!) he decided that looking back at this material it was also important to see what other bands were being reviewed and, generally, to have a sense of the music scene at that period in time.

This retention issue is a situation often faced in collections management and here at the SPL the Edwin Morgan Archive contains a large number of journals and newspapers with only a short contribution by Morgan. However, perusing through them provides the opportunity to see not only who else was writing or what events were taking place at the time but they also give insight into society as a whole – there’s a nostalgia factor to going through these materials

I, like Lizzie yesterday, have been quite amused by the advertisements. For instance, a 1968 issue of the Glasgow University Magazine has an advertisement for Coca-Cola showing a spectacled professor in front of a chalkboard and the line, “Simple formula for perfect refreshment”. It’s quite a transformation from today’s topless man in Diet Coke commercials and the professor wears similar glasses to both Edwin Morgan and the library’s Communications Officer (whee! one remove from greatness! CO). We’d love to post an image of “Professor Coke” but we don’t want to get sued by Coca-Cola for copyright violations. Instead we’ll share a photo of a record which is part of the archive. Finding such a record (a 45) at the back of a 1982 Stereo Headphones journal is amazing because this is a format of sound recording not often seen amongst today’s iPod generation. Not only is the archive a rich resource of material because of the insight it provides into Morgan’s work, but also because of these unexpected (and sometimes unrelated) treasures.

~ Lisa


Poetry sneak/badges

April 23, 2009

Fresh from the badge makers...

Fresh from the badge makers...

#2: Badges

Badges are ace. They can look super, get people talking and draw the eye. ‘What’s your badge?’ ‘Ooh, funny you should ask, it’s just a line from…’ That’s why sneaking poetry onto a badge is such a great idea.

We’re a big bit thrilled with our new Edwin Morgan badges. Celebrating our soon to be opened archive and exhibition, Bawr Stretter! Messages from a poet, the badges are being proudly displayed on cardigans near us. You too can have them! There are 3 to choose from, and they’re available from the library, or by dropping us a wee line if you’re a far away Morgan fan.

Nothing, after all, is not giving messages…


April 23, 2009

Never let it be thought that a librarian’s job is all reading books and having fun chasing old poems;  at the moment I am deep in the cataloguing of the Library’s periodicals – a major, onerous task that has been side-stepped for years. But while I am wrestling with the intricacies of, say, MARC field 866 (Textual Holdings) subfield z (public note), I often have to go and look at the actual volumes, where a moment’s pleasant diversion is afforded by old adverts  – including this one, on a subject dear to the SPL …


~ Lizzie


April 22, 2009

We said we might build a fort, what with all our deliveries and all. This morning, two lovely chaps from the NLS came down the close in their blue van bearing more storage boxes. So Lisa and I built a fort.

Marvel at our brand new rolling shelves, visible in the background.

Marvel at Lisa, hiding in our fort, and our brand new rolling shelves, visible in the background.