I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding items he had collected over the years related to his band. He was concerned about whether he should retain entire magazines or just cut out their review. After some thought over the implications of retaining these magazines (storage!) he decided that looking back at this material it was also important to see what other bands were being reviewed and, generally, to have a sense of the music scene at that period in time.

This retention issue is a situation often faced in collections management and here at the SPL the Edwin Morgan Archive contains a large number of journals and newspapers with only a short contribution by Morgan. However, perusing through them provides the opportunity to see not only who else was writing or what events were taking place at the time but they also give insight into society as a whole – there’s a nostalgia factor to going through these materials

I, like Lizzie yesterday, have been quite amused by the advertisements. For instance, a 1968 issue of the Glasgow University Magazine has an advertisement for Coca-Cola showing a spectacled professor in front of a chalkboard and the line, “Simple formula for perfect refreshment”. It’s quite a transformation from today’s topless man in Diet Coke commercials and the professor wears similar glasses to both Edwin Morgan and the library’s Communications Officer (whee! one remove from greatness! CO). We’d love to post an image of “Professor Coke” but we don’t want to get sued by Coca-Cola for copyright violations. Instead we’ll share a photo of a record which is part of the archive. Finding such a record (a 45) at the back of a 1982 Stereo Headphones journal is amazing because this is a format of sound recording not often seen amongst today’s iPod generation. Not only is the archive a rich resource of material because of the insight it provides into Morgan’s work, but also because of these unexpected (and sometimes unrelated) treasures.

~ Lisa


Murder in the CathedralUsually the term archive conjures thoughts of old stuff like dusty, musty papers. Fortunately, the Edwin Morgan Archive doesn’t stink—it’s pretty cool and we hope that plenty of people will visit the library and upcoming exhibition to see for themselves.

While the archive holds mostly material from the 1960s onwards there are quite a few older items, such as the books from Morgan’s personal library at the University of Glasgow. Quite a few of these works are of prose fiction although several are of poetry. Examples of these older works of poetry include L. MacLean Watt’s The Grey Mother and Other Poems (1903), Joseph Geochegan’s Poems and Sonnets (1910), James Mitchell’s The Warning Bell and Other War Poems (1917), and Ivar Campbell’s Poems (1917).

The works from Morgan’s library are also interesting as they are linked to his teaching and writing. Boyd Cable’s Between the Lines and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s Beyond the Planet Earth include handwritten notes by Morgan, while T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral has a whole page of handwritten text pasted into it, as you can see in the picture above. 

To view other interesting works from the archive stop by at the library to see the exhibition which opens next week.

~ Lisa

Happenings 4

April 17, 2009

love books: from the Owl and Lion Gallery, GrassmarketThere’s nothing quite like a launch to share the book love. Last night, our friends up the road at the Scottish Book Trust threw a lovely party for Spirit of Jura (Polygon), a handsome compendium of writings resulting from the Jura Malt Whisky Writers’ Retreat programme. Will Self read a bit of a great short story, and John Burnside and Liz Lochhead wonderful poems. Jura malt whisky flowed. The canapés were, and always are, smashing.

This week we’ve received so many deliveries of an Edwin Morgan Archive nature that we’re on first name terms with couriers the country over. Brochures, storage boxes and badges are the order of the day as we prepare for the formal opening in just over a week. Delighted to have them, but where to put them! Maybe we’ll regress, build a fort and climb inside…

We had the first of our two Getting Into Poetry evenings. Lilias, eight intrepid travellers and some wine got acquainted on Wednesday night. We’re going to hear more about that next week.

We tried our hand at the Poetry Society’s Poet Laureate Quiz! We’ll tell you our score if you tell us yours!

We had a flying visit from Alastair Reid, discovered a pigeons’ nest with babies in it over the close and had the windows cleaned – the latter is no mean feat with a building that’s ‘a poem in glass and stone’ by virtue of the former’s volume. 

To end on a televisual note, we’re looking forward, sideways and backwards to the BBC’s imminent poetry season, and were otherwise and unrelatedly heartwarmed by Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle

We’re closed on Monday for Spring Bank Holiday. Long weekend ahoy! A good one, till Tuesday, to all!

Julie receives another Edwin Morgan delivery: bookmarks!

What’s your favourite?

April 8, 2009

Typewriter - from shop in Glasgow; typewritten note - photographer's own

Typewriter, Olivetti Lettera 25 - from shop in Glasgow; typewritten note - photographer's own

Things are hotting up, Edwin Morgan style, in the SPL! Some of you may know about our Edwin Morgan Archive – full of wonderful, varied items collected by EM’s friend and editor Hamish Whyte. The formal opening of the archive is fast approaching, tying in with EM’s birthday and the launch of our exhibition, Bawr Stretter! Messages from a poet, so there’s much excitement in the SPL.

Proofs of our splendid booklet about the archive have been squinted at, shuffled and signed off. This fabulous new typewriter, EM’s preferred mode of communication, has been acquired for the leaving of thoughts on the archive, and we’ve been indulging in conversations about what kind of cake we should have – EM favours chocolate cake, but is partial to jaffa cakes too.

We hope you’ll visit once the archive is formally open, but you can help us before that too. We embarked upon a hunt to find the nation’s favourite Edwin Morgan poem, and there’s some of you we’ve still not heard from. This is an ongoing project, but the current frontrunner will become a poster in the Glasgow Subway. So vote now! Please do spread the word about our search and encourage others – we’d love it to contain as many multitudes as the man himself.

This morning we took delivery of the biggest box I’ve ever seen. If you took the trouble to cut a door in it, a couple and their three children could have lived comfortably inside! Well, perhaps not. But it was so large it wouldn’t fit through the door. We stood around mystified: our new photocopier? A washing machine gone awry down Crichton’s Close? Once some of the outer swaddling had been dispensed, and it was manhandled safely in, we discovered it to contain special storage boxes for our Edwin Morgan Archive.

Meet Lisa, SPL’s Edwin Morgan archivist:

“H. Another complimentary – for your archives! E. 7-8-1985.” –  from Edwin Morgan to his friend Hamish Whyte inscribed in A Second Scottish Poetry Book and just one example of the range of materials that now make up the Edwin Morgan Archive which I am cataloguing at the SPL.

Books, of course, make up a majority of the items, which is unusual since an archive usually consists of unpublished materials. It’s the inscriptions however, by Morgan, and the accompanying correspondence that makes these published works unique. It’s far from  just a collection of poetry: it also comprises works of fiction from his personal library or works that he contributed to, including the Celebrity Cookbook to which he added a recipe for fish and chips!

The materials in this special collection also include journals, newspapers, audio and video files, posters, ephemera, and even Morgan’s desk and typewriter. I even get to sit at his desk and work but I think I will stick to using a computer and not his typewriter…

An admiring welcome for Edwin Morgan's Bluebird typewriter

An admiring welcome for Edwin Morgan's Bluebird typewriter from Lizzie, Julie and Jane