Do you love a good debate, or have big questions to ask?

Brian Taylor’s Big Debate
a weekly BBC Radio Scotland radio show will be broadcast live from  The Hub, Royal Mile,  Edinburgh, chaired by  BBC Scotland’s  Political Correspondent Raymond Buchanan, focussing on  the  week’s biggest news stories.   The programme broadcasts with a panel in front of an audience, and takes a similar format to the BBC’s Question Time.

You are invited to come along and participate in the debate, as part of the audience for news, views and discussion. Please arrive 11:30 for 11:45 (the broadcast is from 12:15 -13:00). You are welcome to bring friends/family members too.

The panel will consist of four people, so far including:
Jonathan Mills             Director of the Edinburgh International Festival
Dr Richard Holloway      Former Bishop of Edinburgh and Doctor of
Stirling University
Joyce McMillan           Theatre Critic and Columnist for The Scotsman
Fourth panellist                TBC

So if you’d like to join in the debate with Brian’s lively panel, then please book your place in the audience by emailing

The audience is at the heart of this programme. Please submit questions relating to news stories which have appeared in the news during the week of the debate.  You can also send topical questions which you feel are relevant to you.  They should be brief and to the point – the more succinct the more chance of being picked. Please email your question to by Thursday 26th of August, with your mobile phone number too, please.

Here are some recent examples of programme questions:

-Does the panel believe that free personal care for older people should be continued and should not be subject to cuts?

– Is Curriculum for Excellence a good deal for our children and teachers?
– Is it right that MPs should not be allowed to employ members of their families?
Brian Taylor’s Big Debate
The Hub, Castlehill, Royal Mile,  Edinburgh, EH1 2NE

Friday 27th August, 12:15-13:00 (Arrive 11:30 for 11:45)

There’s a car park on Castle Terrace and including disabled parking spaces on Johnston Terrace

Brian Taylor took part in our Selected Works season in November 2009. You can read more about his selections in our Reading Room.

Edwin Morgan’s funeral

August 23, 2010

Edwin Morgan’s funeral will take place on Thursday 26 August 2010 at 1.30pm in the Bute Hall of the University of Glasgow.

All welcome.

The coffin will lie in the University Chapel from 9am until 12 noon, on Thursday 26 August, for those wishing to pay their respects.

Family flowers only, but donations in lieu may be made to Shelter (

“For all that we knew Eddie had been nearing the end, it’s still a shock and sadness to hear that he has died.  His courage as a man and his constancy as a poet only seemed to increase with age.  I think the whole poetry community took a kind of pride in his ongoing fecundity, and it was good that he lived to know the honour and regard he was held in by his city and his country.  A solitary spirit who breathed solidarity, an experimentalist who did not disdain ‘accessibility’, his subject was the big one Patrick Kavanagh identified as ‘the parish and the universe’.  What I liked greatly about him was the way he combined a low key personal presence with a high level of poetic endeavour.”

Edwin Morgan 1920 – 2010

August 19, 2010

We are all immensely saddened by the news of Edwin Morgan’s death this morning. Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, paid tribute:

“A great, generous, gentle genius has gone. He was poetry’s true son and blessed by her. He is quite simply irreplaceable. I’m certain that everyone who performs or attends at the Edinburgh International Book Festival will be thinking of him with love and gratitude.”

Sorry to disappoint but this event is already fully booked.

You’d be very welcome at an event Radio 4 are recording this Wednesday lunchtime at 1.15pm at the Scottish Poetry Library.

The event will last an hour and a half and consists of a short series of talks.
Martin Bell, the man in the white suit, will ask whether standing as MP for Tatton was worth it.  The writer Candia McWilliam will speak about losing her sight and her love of the Edinburgh cityscape. We’ll also hear from painter Alison Watt and satirist Alistair Beaton.

The event is free and starts at 1.15pm – each speaker speaks for 15 minutes.

There are a limited number of places available, so if you’d like to come, please RSVP to Kay on

Please ensure you are able to be seated in the Scottish Poetry Library by 1.15pm sharp.

Hope to see some of you here!

This morning, we partook of coffee, croissant and an hour in the splendid company of John Glenday at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. This event is part of the strand we assisted Don Paterson in programming, and the afore-mentioned was on hand to introduce the event and lob a few well aimed questions John’s way at the end.

Don admitted it was ‘a relief to be able to stop talking about John as poetry’s best kept secret’, in light of his recent brilliantly received collection Grain (Picador), 14 years after Undark (1995) which succeeded his first, The Apple Ghost (1989) (both Peterloo). Don, John’s editor at Picador, spoke warmly of John, saying his fastidiousness is legendary, and laughed about emails bearing the subject line ‘Glenday writes new poem shocker!’. He commended the skill and imaginative daring that went into these poems that were ‘so well-made’.

John read mostly from Grain, though sprinkled a few oldies from his previous collections in there (‘finding an old poem in the middle of the reading like one of those old tired jokes from a Christmas cracker’, though certainly not for the audience). He read the delightful ‘Tin’, a love poem, inspired by the fact that “the can opener was invented/ forty-eight years after the tin can”. He read about Orkney in ‘A Westray Prayer’, about giving things a name, about ugly fishes – because ‘ugly fishes have more depth’ – ‘I love you as I love the Hatchetfish,/ the Allmouth, the Angler’. He spoke about a self-confessed lack of imagination, it being a ‘terrible burden for a poet because it means you actually have to start looking at things.’ Then he read us the fruits of his lookings – those ‘overlooked saints’ of ‘St Orage’, ‘St Eadfast and St Alwart’, ‘St Agger of the drunken brawling praise’, life seen backwards in ‘A Fairy Tale’ his parents re-seen in his poetry. On the topic of his parents he said, ‘My mother put the words in the poem, my father put the silences. She’s the clockwork. He’s the spring.’ We are glad that in ‘the matter of life and death’ that it was to not let anyone know that you are writing poetry in Monifieth in 1963, that John prevailed.

You can hear more from John on our podcast.

Hens at work. By Flickr user Escarião under a Creative Commons license

One event that we’re really looking forward to at the Edinburgh International Book Festival is on Tuesday 17 August at 3:30pm, when Douglas Dunn and Mandy Haggith will remember Norman MacCaig.

2010 is the year of MacCaig’s centenary, so we’re taking more than usual pleasure in celebrating him and his unique contribution to Scottish literature. Douglas Dunn, poet and friend, will be joined by Mandy Haggith, poet and founder of Top Left Corner – acknowledging MacCaig’s love of Assynt – for readings and fond reminiscence. It’s also chaired by our own Lilias Fraser.

Here’s a wee mouth-watering snippet from our Poetry Reader issue 7 (originally from Alan Taylor’s interview with him in the Sunday Herald), as Seamus Heaney (another of this year’s participants) remembers his first encounter with MacCaig’s work:

As (Heaney) has recalled, his first encounter with MacCaig’s work was his poem ‘Summer Farm’ (“Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass/And hang zigzag on hedges”). Such images, he thought, were simply brilliant. “A unique continuum of wiliness and sensuousness. The minimal and the dotty (‘A hen stares at nothing with one eye,/Then picks it up’) transposed into a metaphysical key.”

ScottishPower Studio Theatre | £10 / £8