Happenings 29: a teaser

February 26, 2010

If you’ve been following Our Sweet Old Behind the Scenes natterings, you’ll know this month has been packed with exquisite poetic activity, including a poetry pub quiz, Mr John Hegley, poems projected, and poems explored, poems in gardens and crafty poems, Poetry Olympics: plenty poems carried every place, all in honour of the city-wide Carry a Poem campaign.

There are a few events left to sate your poetry-loving appetites, namely Kind of Larkin tonight at the Central library (John Sessions voice accompanies Don Paterson’s jazz guitar); Getting Into Poetry tomorrow morning here with our Lilias, Old Town Poetry Trail with Ken Cockburn, and of course, the big mama of all poetry readings – Poets for Haiti at the Queen’s Hall on Sunday night. We’ll be blogging about that, and our reactions to the Carry a Poem campaign at large, next week.

News from the library this week, meanwhile: our sonnets exhibition went live, Don Paterson’s upcoming sonnets event on Tuesday 2 March has sold out; Dave bought doughnuts; Lilias dispatched our Poetry Issues – send with passionate abandon to all librarians of your ken! – Julie and I attended the very interesting ‘Listening Online’ webinar, hosted by Amb:IT:ion Scotland on Thursday and Richard Holloway’s Hugh MacDiarmid Lecture (a joint event with us and the PAS) is booking up swiftly.

See you on the other side!

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.

This was the line projected onto Edinburgh Castle for Valentine’s Day, part of our Carry a Poem Campaign and one of a series of projections around the city.

The line comes from Douglas Dunn‘s poem ‘Disenchantments’, and we chose these words because, as our Robyn put it, ‘they say that love endures, just like the Castle rock’. We headed over there on Sunday evening to spy on the passing hordes, and it was lovely to find many people – couples, families, gangs and all – stopping for a look. We took the opportunity to hand out our poetry pocket cards to spread a little poetry love; it was especially fun – as the cold and our hysteria increased – to give bearded men Lear’s ‘There was an Old Man with a Beard’, or couples out on a Valentine’s Eve stroll Adrian Mitchell’s wonderful ‘Celia Celia’.

Some lovely words of feedback included: ‘It’s made my Sunday’; ‘it’s the best thing we’ve seen all year’, and ‘it certainly made me shake off the chillies’. We phoned Douglas, who couldn’t make it through to see his name in lights, and he was pleased to hear it looked fab.

Did you see it? What did you think? And if not, fear not: our paparazzo Chris Scott was on hand to capture the image for you. With major thanks to Justin and Chris of Northern Light for making the projection happen, braving the cold, and letting us, for the briefest of moments, turn the letters pink.