Olympics, Poetry style…

February 22, 2010

On Saturday, we donned our tracksuits and got sporty for poetry down at the Historic Scotland Education Centre at Holyrood Park. Not a common alliance, you might think, poetry and sports. But as part of our Carry a Poem Campaign, we wanted to show that poetry’s for everyone for always, including those that feel more comfortable on a football pitch or running track, by indulging in a series of unexpected events.

We can’t remember whether the idea first came from the City of Literature’s Ali, or the SPL’s me (Peggy) but it always took the shape in our minds as a retro sports fun for all the family day, in which poems played a large part. Thus evolved our relay race (with poem baton), welly toss (with customised poem-adorned welly), fastest poet (in which the athletes each represented a poet. Why shouldn’t our poets be lauded on the back of shirts, as footballers are? Sorley MacLean, if you care to know, was the Usain Bolt of the day), egg and spoon and sack race. Master of ceremonies Ewan MacIntosh made sure the athletes warmed up appropriately – much arm-swinging, many star jumps – and that energy levels were suitably sustained by chocolate mallows and Party Rings. In between races, Kate’s face painting proved popular, and what with such unseasonally beautiful, sunny weather, many families hung out for most of the day.

We ended with a chance for the adults to get in on the running action, followed by an epic poetry play-off, in which our littlest sportsman of the day scored a penalty and victory for his team. We bade our Olympians goodbye with a prize-ceremony in which chocolate gold coins took the place of medals and a Carry a Poem book. Everyone a winner. You can see our snaps of the day here, by the indefatigable Chris Scott.

With thanks to Historic Scotland, Ewan, Kitty and Kate, and Ailsa for all their help.

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