Our bests

January 5, 2010

I had hoped to get this done before Christmas shopping and snow and the bells tolling 2010 came swooping down on us, but didn’t. Since I canvassed the colleagues for their top moments, I thought it might be as a jolly a way to usher in the New Year as to wave goodbye to the old one. So here in no particular order is a sprawling list of things that made 2009 go with a swing for us!

The final year of Poet Partners and the endlessly imaginative ways of working with poetry cooked up by our partner libraries and by the extraordinary enthusiasm and energy and knowledge put into their devious plans.  Poems on toilet doors, poets riding shotgun on mobile library vans, poems shared between generations, poetry reading groups where there were none before, poems in town centres, poems and imagination and determination in the face of cuts that make others lie down and weep..

Visiting Portree, Inverness and Elgin – I was entirely inspired by the teachers and librarians we met…

Collaborating with the UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature on the Carry a Poem Campaign:  an anthology of people’s poem choices and stories will be the fourth citywide reading campaign in February, with many attendant events and excitements.

The podcasts!

Seeing some marvellous lines of poetry umpteen feet tall on the sides of buildings in St Andrew Square…  and half a centimeter high on the postcards produced by Writing Scotland…

Giving out our booklets at the Edinburgh International Book Festival SPL 25th anniversary event – being seen to belong to the SPL – basking in the warmth of the audience

Two ribbon-cuttings: Edwin Morgan cutting the ribbon of the Edwin Morgan Archive on his 89th birthday, splendidly clad in a Tunnock’s Glasgow t-shirt; a group of letter-painters of all ages cutting the ribbon and the great sheet falling to reveal the Burns banner in all its vivid colour, lighting up a dreary stretch of Market Street for August, and giving such pleasure to over 400 painting participants.

Maybe because I have the memory of a gnat, but also because it was new and uncharted, and exciting to witness, my top highlight would be Elspeth Murray’s first Glow live workshop session from Calderside Academy on Wednesday 16th December, with pupils from other schools joining in via the Glow network. Also hearing some of the people from Orkney to Eyemouth talking about the legacy of Burns and the power of ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’.

Listening to Christine De Luca and Mandy Haggith read on a roof-terrace in Calcutta.

Standing with Seamus Heaney in the Canongate kirkyard on a mild October afternoon, his first sight of the Fergusson grave, and his admiring the Fergusson statue as we walked down towards the SPL.

Hearing the Selkirk Grace translated into Polish, Romanian, Platt Deutsch and Gujarati, then read in the original, as the sun went down over the sound of Jura.

Being warm and dry inside the SPL this winter, unlike last year!

So there are a few things that made us grin in 2009. We hope 2010 will bring you many delights, pleasures and reasons to be happy. And finally here’s Naomi Shihab Nye’s ‘Burning the Old Year‘ to welcome the new.

One Response to “Our bests”

  1. ali Says:

    I love the poetry banners on St Andrew Square…they make me smile every time I see them. And they look especially vivid in a city covered in snow.


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