National Poetry Day fun!

October 12, 2010

On Thursday 7 October we had more than usual cause for putting poetry out and about there, for National Poetry Day was upon us!

Lilias joined the Edinburgh City Libraries mobile library van in Castle Street from which vantage, under the Castle rock, she pressed poetry into the hands of unsuspecting passers-by! People took cards, looked pleased, stopped or chatted briefly, hummed ‘Westering Home’, explained which friend / child / relative they were taking the poem for.

In the afternoon here at the library we donned pinnies, set the mood lighting to chintz and had a good brew with a fine spread of cakes, tarts and other delights (including cheese, inspired probably by G K Chesterton having said ‘Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese …) (with especial thanks to Aiko for the amazing cupcakes with cake-inspired poetry flags, and Twitter pal @NemesisRepublic for the chocolate cupcakes and and oranges and lemons cake, both pictured!). We read poems about home – this year’s National Poetry Day theme – the ones from this year’s postcard selection, others that folk had toted along especially, some they had penned upon the theme. The whole thing finished with a rousing rendition of Robertson’s ‘Westering Home’.

Our Lorna of education fame was on roving mic duty at Lockerbie Primary School’s GLOW workshop with poet Liz Niven. They communed with 1200 children in 40+ schools at final count in Fife, Shetland, Orkney, East and West Lothian, Ayrshire, Argyll & Bute,  and further and on.

And Robyn went to prison for the launch of The Poem Goes to Prison, an anthology that came out of a reading group run at HMP Barlinnie by Kate Hendry. Kate chose some Scottish poetry to look at with her reading group there, and they chose poems they liked – she then invited the poets into prison for a session talking to and reading with the prisoners, and then also commissioned a poem from them on the back of that. So the anthology is very much the prisoners’ choice, and includes work by Liz Lochhead, Vicki Feaver, James Robertson. It will be distributed in Scottish prisons.

What did you do? Anyone take Kona’s advice and sneak poetry upon the unsuspecting? Bake poetry onto a cake, like our pals at Poetry Digest? Help with the patchwork poem organised by North Carr Light? Attend a reading or event? Or simply hunker down with a nice cuppa and clear a space in the day for a poem? Your public wants to know!

4 Responses to “National Poetry Day fun!”

  1. Iain Says:

    Well, even if I do say so myself, I excelled myself by choosing individual poems for each of my Fruitmarket Gallery colleagues who’d be at work on the day. The envelopes seemed to go down fairly well when opened, so it was worth the work. I’d say I’d managed about a 90% hit rate!

    I shared a brilliant poem about a gallery by Ross Sutherland called ‘The Message’ with the gallery assistants, who I think appreciated its empathetic message for invigilators!

  2. Lilias Says:

    Iain, that does sound like excelling – but what I really very much want to know now is, which poems did you choose…?

  3. Iain Says:

    Well, Lilias, thank you very much for asking (it’s nice reliving the fun I had choosing), as well as the Ross Sutherland I’ve already mentioned I think my list was:

    Liz Lochhead – Your Aunties
    J.H. Prynne – The Holy city
    Marion Angus – Think Lang
    e.e. cummings – ‘maggie and millie and molly and may’
    Henry Marsh – A Daft Moment
    Edwin Muir – For Ann Scott-Moncrieff
    William Carlos Williams – This is Just to Say
    Michael Longley – The Ice-Cream Man
    Alfred Nicol – Elegy for Everyone
    Frank O’Hara – Memorial Day 1950
    Norman Nicholson – Nicholson, Suddenly
    Gabriel Celaya – Great Moments
    Mick Imlah – Goldilocks
    Flannan Isle – Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

    I’m not sure what its possible to deduce from this, but I hope it’s evident that I have interesting and varied colleagues!

  4. Lilias Says:

    What a gorgeous choice. So… who in the Fruitmarket is famous for her meringues, famous for her am-I-right-or-am-I-wrangs? and who pinches fruit from the fridge? I’ll be trying to guess…

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