June 23, 2009

Fatma and Kevin. Picture by Eddie Gibbons.On Saturday, the SPL played host to the first handfasting in our 25 year history! We were delighted to be approached concerning hire a few months ago by poet Kevin Cadwallender, (it prompted much girlish giggling about hats and Cilla Black was mentioned), and honoured that he and his betrothed Fatma had chosen our building for their special day. The champagne flutes were at the door ready to greet guests and the pink and white flowers propped around the library, awaiting. We even tried to make an aisle on the mezzanine…

The guests started to arrive at 5.30pm. Sally Evans and her husband Ian King were kind in rushing out to purchase soft drinks, since I’d managed only to remember the champagne. The place was rammed with friends and well-wishers, gathered in the church of poetry to witness the ceremony, conducted by Colin Will (who was also a great help in uncorking the obstinate fizz). The bride wore pale pink, the groom a kilt. There’s a picture above, though if anyone has any taken in the library, we’d love to see it! There was no room even for a small one on the mezzanine level, but the audience participation was significant. The ceremony itself was short and sweet, and involved some tradition with candles, water and earth and loud cheers announced the joining! The couple emerged from the lift and swept up the close to the next stop in the party – Dunbar’s Close for pictures and more carousing.

We of course gave them a copy of our Handfast (hope no-one else had that bright idea!) and wish them all the very best. Kevin will be launching his book Dances with Vowels upstairs at the Meadow Bar on Thursday 2 July at 7.30pm. He won’t be able to perform his Dalek poem (ignoring doctor’s orders brought on a hernia) but there’ll be plenty to entertain without it.

Please vote for us!

June 22, 2009

Thumbs up to the SPL from Eric and Malcolm!

There’s been a flurry of excited activity down at Crichton’s Close this morning! We’re semi-finalists in the National Lottery Awards for Best Arts Project! This is mega-exciting for us, and we hope for you too, as the prize money of £2000 will really help us to continue our work of bringing people and poetry together.

If you like what we do (and we hope you like what we do!) (we love what you do, you poetry lovers, you) then please vote. Get your colleagues and your mates to vote. Your granny, your other half, get your dog to vote. Every little helps, and we at the SPL will be enormously grateful. It only takes a second to do so. You can call 0844 686 7233. Or you can go to the National Lottery Awards website, scroll down and click the blue button. It’s as easy as that.

In the picture above our accountant Eric Wishart (beside bike) and our architect Malcolm Fraser, both longtime supporters of the SPL, are giving the thumbs up. Please help us win the lottery and make it thumbs up all round!

Happenings 10

June 19, 2009

It’s that Friday afternoon time at the SPL. The (plain) chocolate digestives are out and we’re just glad to be sitting here in the library. As yes, we couldn’t get into the building this morning until the locksmith arrived to rescue us – our front door lock broke.

The offending lock...

The offending lock...

Mostly, though, we’re excited to be heading down to the Ingleby Gallery quite soon tonight for the opening of their new Ian Hamilton Finlay exhibition. To get in the mood Julie (that’s me) is starting on the work of putting our extensive Finlay collections into archive presentation folders. This sort of work makes her very, very happy. It’s more interesting than budgets.

And we’re wondering who’s winning the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards – the SAC awards ceremony is happening as we speak down in Melrose (anyone down there who can send us some news?). Tom Pow is the poetry category winner in the running for the main prize.

Well, back to some last minute Friday afternoon work… happy weekends all


HomeJust back from poems and a picnic in the Poetry Garden, St Andrew Square. A dozen of us gathered to hear poems about home, as part of Refugee Week; thankfully, the rain held off till the readings were over. Ryan hosted proceedings, and read a poem in which he imagines what his family might be up to in sunny Connecticut whilst he endures another tepid Scottish summer.

Then Iyad Hayatleh read two of his own poems, and one by Mahmoud Darwish, in Arabic and in English. A Palestinian born in a Syrian refugee camp, Iyad has never been to Palestine: home, he says, has been the most controversial word in his life.

One of the cherry trees in the Poetry Garden had been decorated for the occasion with hand-written poems composed by members of The Welcoming project, and we decided to be pleased that, between Monday and today, some of the poems had been ‘liberated’.  No doubt they’re giving great pleasure to their new owners.

So much for the poems; what about the picnic? Snacks came courtesy of Leith’s World Kitchen – who needs cake when there’s lentil dumplings?

~ Jane

Listen with… SPL

June 17, 2009

We’ve just bidden farewell to our small but perfectly formed afternoon group. 4 people came to Listen With… SPL for Jammie Dodgers and tea, with Ryan and Dave reading for them. Brilliantly though, they all felt moved to join in too. Cleodie recited Thomas Hardy from memory and Nella read Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’ (spine tingling, we agreed, despite the rigours of 6th form). Jenny read U A Fanthorpe’s ‘Atlas’ and Jo Shapcott’s letter to her mother-in-law on Shetland and Scott recited a poem which we debated may have been Walter de la Mare (on the basis of ‘ye horses’), which always comes to mind when driving at night. Peggy didn’t read as she has a voice for ballet, but the dulcet tones of Dave and Ryan were roundly applauded, with Dave reading countrymen Muldoon and MacNeice, and Ryan Stewart Conn (on request) and Kit Wright.

So despite the rain and fear that no-one would come, a most pleasant and diverting afternoon was had by all, and we agreed to do it again soon.

Iain MacIntoshWe’re 25 this year. To mark the occasion and our Patrick Geddes by-line, we asked 25 friends and supporters and artists linked to the library to design a leaf for us. Our web designer Mary has created a fab slideshow of their contributions. You’ll find a diverse mix in there, from Alexander McCall Smith‘s sketch to Norman McBeath‘s photo. We hope you’ll enjoy them.

Great photo of Ryan and stall, nicked from Aiko! Better late than never, and delayed only by stop the press Jaffagate (and by the way we loved your poems Lorrainebow and David! The Jaffa Cake canon explodes…) I asked Ryan to write a bit about his experience of the Meadows Fest and he did…

Hello Sweet Old Readers. Despite the wind and rain on Saturday 6 June,  we had a sweet old afternoon handing out our favourite poems. The Poetry Army was in full effect and the screen printing was great.

One highlight was this screen-printed card.

rock engine trembling will shatter against
destroyed buildings
your savings lay undone
sharp and willing

We were nestled in between the Forest / Police Box stage and the ever-popular beer tent. Loads of people came and we gave away dozens of the Edwin Morgan Cards which I love. I made everyone who even looked at us take a card which read: “Nothing is Not Giving Messages.” Which is fast becoming my favourite quoteable quote.

Poems by Leonard Cohen about kites, poems by Bukowski about drinking and a poem by Aaron Smith about Brad Pitt proved most popular.

Favourite quote from a punter — “Poetry. That’s for like, intellectuals, isn’t it?” You be the judge.