Prizes: a round up!

May 30, 2011

The Breakfast Room (Bloodaxe) by Stewart Conn has scooped the poetry award of the  Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards, in partnership with Creative Scotland. Stewart’s collection was one of four long-listed titles: Eddie Gibbons – What They Say About You (Leamington Books)Kei Miller – A Light Song of Light (Carcanet) and Robin Robertson – The Wrecking Light (Picador). As one of the four category winners, Stewart receives £5000. One of these books will be crowned Scottish Book of the Year, giving the author a total prize of £30,000. The overall winner will be decided by a public vote: have your say!

Anna Crowe‘s Figure in Landscape won the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award from a shortlist of six pamphlets, with publisher Hamish Whyte of Mariscat Press accepting a cheque for £750. The publisher also holds the Callum Macdonald Quaich for 12 months. Anna will be the Michael Marks Poet in Residence at the prestigious Harvard Center for two weeks in July. The residency is a new prize this year for the poet of the winning pamphlet in the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. Runner up JoAnne McKay was awarded a cheque for £250 for her self-published pamphlet Venti.

The winners of the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets 2011 will be announced at a reading and awards ceremony at the British Library on 13 June 2011. Tickets are now on sale from the British Library box office, here or in person from the British Library main building at St Pancras.

The seven short-listed pamphlets chosen from over 100 entries are:
Neil AddisonApocapulco (Salt)
Simon ArmitageThe Motorway Service Station as a Destination in its Own Right (Smith/Doorstop Books)
Sean Burn, mo thunder (The Knives Forks and Spoons Press)
Olive BroderickDarkhaired (Templar)
Ralph Hawkins, Happy Whale Fat Smile (Oystercatcher)
James McGonigal, Cloud Pibroch (Mariscat)
Sophie Robinson, The Lotion (Oystercatcher)

And the five short-listed publishers are:
The Crater Press
Kater Murr’s Press
The Knives, Forks and Spoons Press
Mariscat Press
Roncadora Press

Congrats to Stewart and Anna, and good luck to all involved in the Michael Marks Awards!

Happenings #38

May 27, 2011

New acquisitions in our window.

New acquisitions in our window.

This week we:

… said farewell to fabulous Strathclyde University student, Flora, who has been with us on a placement for three weeks.

… let out a delighted cheer at the launch of National Libraries day! How will you celebrate yours?

… listened while Syrian poet Golan Haji joins our Ryan in Residence in Beirut as part of the cultural collaboration festival of poetry, film and music: Reel Festivals. They take some time out to chat about about poetry, translation, borders and politics.

… continued to keep in touch with our Poetry Issues, featuring book recommendations and the centenary of the birth of Czeslaw Milosz.

… enjoyed fascinating glimpses of the Literature Across Frontiers 10th Anniversary Conference: Literary Exchange and Translation in the Euro-Mediterranean Region: challenges of the next decade through Nia Davies (niapolly) on twitter, while our director, Robyn, is in attendance in Istanbul.

… decided that this excellent new acquisition is not just for children: Poetry Basics: Concrete Poetry.

… continued our love affair with our new OPAC and the Poetry Beyond Text reading archive held therein.

… seriously debated combining all available personal funds for an immediate library field trip to Chicago for the Poetry Foundation’s incredible open house programme to celebrate the opening of their brand new building. If you, like us, don’t have quite a flight’s worth hiding down the back of the sofa, you can still experience at a distance by having a look around the Poetry Foundation’s lush new website. 

… were unsurprised though moderately displeased by the resurgence of Autumn … in May.

Next week we will:

… be removing the booksale from our retail area! Catch it quickly, prices starting at 50p…

… hanging out at the Edinburgh City of Literature Wash Bar salon. Will we see you there?

… looking forward to an event-full week to follow:  Poetry Beyond Text with Jim Carruth on Tuesday 7th June! Nothing but the Poems: Liz Lochhead edition on Thursday 9th! Book in on

This week’s staff #fridayread comes from: Lizzie, who will be traveling, and reading her annual Anthony-Trollope-on-a-train. For 2011 it’s The Small House at Allington.

Deirdre Nelson’s Wigtown words brought much joy to SPL HQ, following the Wigtown Book Festival (including in decorating our Christmas tree!) So we’re delighted to hear that the project is expanding and bringing joy to  Ganet’s
Adventure School in Malawi! Read on for more…

Do you have a favourite word? Fascinated by this thought, artist Deirdre Nelson has created a collection of people’s favourite words, and turned them into artworks. They go on sale on 28 May in a charity eBay auction in aid of Ganet’s
Adventure School, Malawi.

Over 700 favourite words were chosen by writers and festival-goers at Wigtown Book Festival 2010, when Deirdre was artist in residence, and also from the pupils of Ganet’s Adventure School in Malawi.
From this selection, she has curated a small collection of around 30 words and hand embroidered them in silk onto ribbons. The ribbons can be applied to objects or clothing, or displayed in their glass containers. The artworks will be on display from 28-30 May at The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, as part of the
Spring Fling arts festival.

Ebay auction

Events in May & June!

May 13, 2011

We’ve rather a busy few months coming up here at the Scottish Poetry Library, so let’s get our diaries out and cut right to the chase!

Our Poetry Beyond Text exhibition opens today – lucky for some, Friday 13th May! Poetry Beyond Text is a two-year research project exploring our aesthetic and cognitive responses to visual-poetic art works, including concrete poetry, artists’ books, poetic prints, poem-photography, text film and digital poetry. Featuring newly commissioned work, it is installed in the library until Friday 15 July, and comes with an array of assorted events across May and June. On Wednesday 18 May at 7pm Deryn Rees-Jones and Marion Smith will discuss their collaboration, Vivam (2011), which took place as part of the Poetry Beyond Text project. On Tuesday 24 May, from 6.30 – 8.30pm, a workshop session will explore visual poetry, looking at how individual works are constructed, considering what happens when we read such poems, before having a go at creating our own visual poems. On Tuesday 7 June, Jim Carruth will be speaking about two recent collaborations: ‘Lot 76’ , created with Michael Waight, and ‘Three Little Words’, created with Murray Robertson, both part of the Poetry Beyond Text project. And on Wednesday 15 June at 6pm Poetry Whispers will showcase the work of local artists and poets who have responded to each others work, creating imaginative reiterations in their own medium.

We’re also hosting events as part of the Reel Festivals, which seeks to show that art and culture are the best way to learn about and better understand each others’ worlds, showing the reality behind the headlines. Reel Festivals 2011 focuses on Syria / سورياLebanon / لبنان and Scotland, with films, music and poetry events taking place. We’re delighted to welcome poets from Syria, Lebanon and Scotland to the library on Wednesday 18 May at 12.30pm for a short tour followed by an informal salon, a chance to discuss poetry in translation, borders, sip some tea and share work and stories. This is free and open to all interested writers, arts practitioners, and members of the public. On Friday 20 May the poets will return for an evening of contemporary English and Arabic poetry featuring new translations from these thrilling local and international writers: William Letford, Emily Ballou, Tom Pow, Rasha Omran, Golan Haji, Mazen Maarouf, Yehia Jaber. Also featuring short films and music from Reel Festivals, and free and open to all.

And is if that weren’t enough, we’ll be having a tea party and book sale on Saturday 21 May. ‘Lines of Flight’, poetry from three refugee poets based in Scotland will take place on Tuesday 21 June. Carlos Arredondo (Chile), Iyad Hayatleh (Palestine), and Qusay Husain (Iraq) will read from their work, followed by a discussion of the relationship between poetry and community, part of Refugee Week. And on Saturday 25 June, we’ll host  a Poetry Translation Centre chapbook tour event with Mohan Rana and Bernard O’Donaghue.

Of course, if you want a blissful escape though the words on the page, you can check out our Nothing But the Poem reading sessions, or our blissful Reading Poetry for Pleasure weekend in Moniack Mhor in June with guest reader John Glenday…

I am not a good sleeper, though I am not exactly an insomniac.  I do put in quite a few hours in turbulent unconsciousness, but I have always had frequent wakeful spells.  This is particularly true if I’ve been working on mind-stuff during the day, because I usually go on doing it in bed – whether I like it or not – and sleep is the casualty.  It’s been particularly bad this year because I’ve been writing a book – now finished, thank God – and the damned thing never knew when to turn off and let me alone.

All the more need, therefore, for some friends by the bedside to help me through the wee small hours when everyone else is asleep.  Luckily,  I’ve had some good companions recently.  The most spectacular came from Graeme Gibson, Margaret Atwood’s husband, and a distinguished author in his own right.  The volume in question is The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany,  and it is an absolute treasure.  As the name suggests, it’s a book about the ancient relationship between birds and humans.  Ideal watches-of-the-night reading, it is full of short observations, longer essays and terrific poetry.  For instance, I was moved all over again by re-acquainting myself with Robinson Jeffers’ wrenching poem about a defiant raptor with a broken wing, ‘Hurt Hawks’.  Look it up and thrill with pride and sorrow.

And I’ve been dipping into C P Cavafy again, after a friend reminded me of Che Fece…Il Gran Rifiuto:

              For some people the day comes
             when they have to declare the great Yes
             or the great No.

Louis MacNeice is by my bedside too, writing his Autumn Journal.  I love MacNeice.  The decent uncertainties of his mind, and that tugging undercurrent of loss that beset him early: Come back early or never come…Great stuff for the watches of the night.

Finally, there’s Byron Rogers’ fabulous biography of R.S.Thomas, The Man Who Went into The West.  I heard RST do a reading at Edinburgh University in the 1970s and he looked like God with a migraine.  Now I am beginning to think he was playing with us all the time.  Getting his own back, maybe, because of the way God kept playing with him.

Richard Holloway is one of the most outspoken and best-loved figures in the modern church. In 2000 he stood down as the Bishop of Edinburgh. He was Gresham Professor of Divinity in the City of London and remains a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has written for many newspapers in Britain including The Times, the Guardian, the Sunday Herald and the Scotsman and presented his own series on BBC Television. His books include On ForgivenessLooking in the DistanceGodless Morality and Doubts and Loves. This piece first appeared in our Poetry Reader, issue 2. 

Clydebuilt 5!

May 9, 2011

From our poet of the month Jim Carruth for Glasgow-based poets; Clydebuilt 5, brought to you by St Mungo’s Mirrorball and and Glasgow Life, is now open for applications!


Clydebuilt is an innovative programme which looks at addressing in part one of the issues raised during The Glasgow Report Card and City of Dreams consultative exercise. That is the further developing of poets with potential. It provides a more intensive support and one which involves encouraging a greater dialogue between new developing poets and experienced poets.

It has two elements to it.

The first part is  mentoring of no more than four local poets who have yet to have a first full collection published (though could have brought out a pamphlet) and are not currently receiving any support with their development. This mentoring will be given by an experienced poet/ tutor over the course of 12 months and will consist of 5 group tutorials and 2 sets of one to one sessions which will be free to the participants. At these tutorials there will be a discussion of pre-submitted work and this will lead to a mix of peer and tutor feedback. This will encourage participants to develop not only their own writing style but their ability to critique others. Over the year the participants will develop a portfolio of poems.

The second part will be the provision of a matching support fund to help the experienced poet/mentor to develop their own work during the same 12 month period. The poet will in turn share their work in progress with the group if they feel that would be useful for the group.


The scheme has been set up to support  Glasgow based writers and it is imagined that both mentors and apprentices will be recruited through the existing poetry networks, course programmes and writing networks across the city.

A panel will review the applications and agree the appropriate decisions. They will also decide whether any interviews are necessary.  The chosen tutor/mentor will be involved in the final decision on the apprentices for their group.

Participants will give a reading of some of their resulting work along with their tutor at the end of the 12 months at a dedicated St Mungo’s Mirrorball event.

Reference should be made to support offered by St Mungo’s Mirrorball and Glasgow Life in future publications and collections.

Clydebuilt Verse Apprenticeship Scheme – Submission guidelines


To be eligible to be an apprentice you cannot be involved in any other writing course or receiving any other structured writing support as of September 2011 and you should not yet have brought out a full length poetry collection.

If you are interested in applying to be one of the four apprentices what we would like from you is the following

  • full contact details
  • A brief biography of your writing career to date
  • 5 poems as typical examples of your work
  • A statement of your short term and long term poetry goals
  • An outline of what you hope to achieve from the support over the next 12 months
  • A clear indication of the time commitment you are able to give both in terms of writing and attendance at the tutorial programme

Then send the submission to Clydebuilt – The Verse Apprenticeship Scheme, Heathfield, Horsewood Road, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire PA11 3AU or e-mail it to  by Friday 24th June 2011.

In anticipation of our glorious Reading Poetry for Pleasure course at Moniack Mhor in June, our Lilias turns her beady questioning stare on John Glenday. John will be Guest poet and reader at Moniack, alongside our director Robyn and Lilias. His third collection, Grain, was published by Picador in November 2009 to ecstatic acclaim, and shortlisted in 2010 for the Ted Hughes Prize for Excellence in New Poetry and for the Griffin Poetry Prize 2010. His first collection, The Apple Ghost won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and his second, Undark, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. You can read more about John in our A-Z of poets and listen to our podcast with him here. There are still some places left on this special weekend away; the booking deadline is 1st June.

The house was quiet and the world was calm.

When do you get to read?

I read in the quiet corners of the day – first thing in the morning, before anyone else gets up;  I often read out loud to my wife last thing at night; and I’ve always a few poetry collections in the loo…

I live for books
and light to read them in

What was the last poem you pressed on a friend, with a manic gleam in  your eye?

It was that wonderful Rorschach-like elegy by Julia Copus – Kim’s Clothes. How did she write that?

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no pleasure like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

If poems were food, name one fancy Heston Blumenthal-style starter, one hearty breakfast favourite and one guilty after-pub snack.

Kay Ryan’s ‘Silence’ with a rocket salad.

Full English Auden (served all day) – ‘Twelve Songs’’ (especially the tasty ‘O lurcher loving collier, black as night’)

A family bag of salt and vinegar Wendy Copes – ‘A Nursery Rhyme’ (in the style of William Wordsworth)

The pigs sleep in the sty: the bookman comes

What’s in your current reading pile, warts and all? (list the pulp fiction and the gardening catalogues too..) 

I must admit, I’m still on page 50 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Also November by Sean O’Brien; The Hare with Amber Eyes; Delete this at your Peril (because I was born in Broughty Ferry) and One Thousand Nights and Counting (Selected poems of Glyn Maxwell). Oh, and A History of the World in One Hundred Objects (that’s the one I’ve been reading out loud to my wife).

And finally, John, you already have Shakespeare and the Bible on the desert island. You can keep one poem and one luxury. What’ll they be?

Och, I’d take a longish poem to keep me occupied – the Mahabharata, fully annotated. But  I’ll also sneak a few extra poems on to my desert island without anyone noticing. It’s called memorising. My one luxury would be an astronomical telescope to enjoy those wonderfully clear, unlit night skies.