We were delighted to hear from Iain Leitch, a member of London Scottish who requested a batch of our ‘London Scottish’ Mick Imlah National Poetry Day postcards. He has kindly consented to us reproducing his missive here on our blog. 

I wanted to let you know where the postcards that you kindly sent me ended up.

Our tour to Belgium took place over the 22nd to 25th of April and covered the Flanders Scottish Memorial Day and ANZAC day ceremonies.

Our own London Scottish activities included a ceremony at the regiments memorial at Messine the site of the action described in the poem. The mayor of Mesen, the Flemish spelling, attended the ceremony and was presented with mementos by the club including a couple of the postcards.

The Flanders Scottish Memorial Day ceremony was held at the Scotland memorial near Zonnebeke and was attended by a large number of Scottish members of the British Legion together with Australians and New  Zealanders of Scottish descent. Again the mayors and officials present were given copies of the postcards. Cards were also given to  “The Tatty Tenors” who sang ” On The Road to Passchendaele” during the ceremony. They are an Australian trio, very well known in Australia, who were also involved at the ANZAC day ceremony at the Menin Gate.

Our rugby match took place in Zonnebeke against the London New Zealand Rugby Club with a satisfactory result for us. It was played on a football pitch with temporary posts in front of a crowd which included a good number of local people who had never seen a rugby match before. More cards were given to those involved including Jo Kane from New Zealand who appears in the photos on the first website below.

On our return to Richmond cards were given to some of our younger players who had been visibly moved, as I think we all were, by the battlefield sites, the cemeteries and the various ceremonies we took part in.

There are two websites connected to the events we attended. The first can be found by Googling “the Belgians have not forgotten“. This site has photos of the ANZAC events but also includes our match and the tattoo we attended at Zonnebeke. The second site again by Googling “On The Road to Passchendaele”  will find the version of the song by Alan Brydon who wrote it.

To finish on a rugby note. We played what should have been our last match of the season on the 30th of April against Blackheath and won. However, due to the bad weather earlier in the year our final match was last Saturday against Barking who were just below us in the league  and unbeaten all season. A breakaway score in the last minute of the game, against the run of play, gave us the title and promotion the Championship league next season.

Thank you again for the cards which much appreciated and I hope they will help spread the word about the Scottish Poetry Library.

We produce a set of postcards every year for National Poetry Day. You can see those postcards on our website, and send an e-card, if the mood moves you. Keep your eyes peeled for this year’s selection. The theme for National Poetry Day 2011, on Thursday 6 October, is games. 

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!