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August – December 2012

what I love about poetry is its ion engine

what I love about poetry is its ion engine Edwin Morgan


An Autumn Season of Parts and Wholes

Edwin Morgan wrote a wonderful poem called ‘A View of Things’ in which each line begins with ‘what I love’ or ‘what I hate’. It includes the line ‘what I love about poetry is its ion engine’ which you can see emblazoned on a wall here in the library. Every time I read it I wonder, what does that mean? Flummoxing, but I love that about poetry – it makes me question and think about the world in a new way. Call it sacred and profane, call it transgression versus obedience, call it love and hate… I’d like the events of the SPL’s autumn season to reflect both sides, a myriad of views – to consider dichotomies and overlaps, to investigate the spaces between words and meanings; metaphorical spaces, emotional spaces, positive and negative space –­­ with all its potency and implication.

Jennifer Williams, SPL Programme Manager

Orchard Exhibition Thursday 2 August – Saturday 29 September, SPL, free. The poetic names of varieties of apple trees, many now endangered, are the basis for this year’s summer exhibition, Orchard. Poet Gerry Loose and artist Donald Urquhart combine image, text and colour, in a lament for lost varieties and a celebration of rich variety. Part of the Edinburgh Art Festival and supported by The Hope Scott Trust.

On Creativity and Slowing Down Reading and Conversation Saturday 18 August, 1.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. A welcome pause for reflection in a season of frantic activity, Christian McEwen will read from her new book World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down (Bauhan) and will discuss finding the time and space 'simply to be' with Bill Eddie (Scottish Centre for Geopoetics Council).

ORDINARY JOY: Reading, Writing, Drawing, Slowing Down Workshop Saturday 1 September, 1pm – 3pm, SPL, £20, places limited. This workshop run by Christian McEwen explores our relationship with time, luxuriating in the opportunity to slow down and reconnect with our creative selves.

Dichotomy: Tom Leonard and Miriam Gamble Reading Thursday 6 September, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. Tom Leonard writes in ‘Ghostie Men’, ‘all living language is sacred’. In ‘Cuba’, Miriam Gamble says, ‘It is too perfect to describe, / and I do not want to learn / the language.’ Two poets who navigate the living rhythms of silence and sound, absence and presence, will read poems that reflect on the season’s theme of dichotomy.

A Rug of a Thousand Colours Launch Saturday 8 September, 1pm, SPL, free. Iyad Hayatleh and Tessa Ransford present A Rug of a Thousand Colours (Luath Press), a creative dialogue, in Arabic and English, inspired by the five pillars of Islam.

SPL Young MacDonald Poetry Party Reading Friday 14 September, 6pm, Hemma, donations requested. Oxfam’s Young MacDonald campaign is raising funds to buy farmyards, enabling Third World communities to support themselves. Join us for readings, poetry karaoke and Hendrick’s gin cocktails at Hemma, our fabulous neighbourhood Swedish bar/café. Sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin. Hemma can be found at 75 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AE.

Perspective betrays with its dichotomy: train tracks always meet, not here, but only in the impossible mind's eye; From 'Love Is A Parallax' by Sylvia Plath

SPL Young MacDonald Foodie Fair at Hemma Fair Saturday 15 September, 12pm – 4pm, Hemma, donations requested. More fundraising for the Young MacDonald Oxfam Project. A day of foodie fun with poetry workshops, cake judging contests, bread-making classes – and more!

Margaret Tait, Film Poet Poetry and Film Thursday 20 September, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. Margaret Tait (1918-1999) was an exceptional filmmaker and poet. An evening honouring her work; with readings, screenings and an introduction by Sarah Neely, editor of Tait’s Poems, Stories and Writings (Carcanet).

Edinburgh Doors Open Day: Hidden Treasures Open Day Saturday 22 September, 10am – 5pm, SPL, free. We’re delighted once more to be part of Edinburgh’s Doors Open Day. Come along to explore this year’s theme of ‘Hidden Treasures’ amidst the poetry stacks.

Annual SPL & Edinburgh Literature Society Reading: Angus Peter Campbell Reading / National Poetry Day In collaboration with Soapbox Thursday 4 October, 8pm, Cabaret Bar, Pleasance, free. Ann an com-pàirteachais le Comann Litreachas Oilthigh Dhùn Eideann airson a' chiad uair, tha sinn a' cur air doigh leughadh le Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul, am bàrd, nobhailiche, fear-naidheachd, craoladair agus cleasaiche ainmeil. Chaidh an leabhar aige Aibisidh a thaghadh mar Leabhar Bàrdachd Albannach na Bliadhna. Facal-toisich le Pàdraig MacAoidh. To launch our partnership with the Edinburgh University Literature Society, we’re co-hosting a reading by awardwinning poet, novelist, journalist, broadcaster and actor Angus Peter Campbell, whose book Aibisidh was selected as Scottish Poetry Book of the Year. Introductory remarks by Dr Peter Mackay.

SPL Scottish Poetry Showcase Reading Thursday 1 1 October, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. Join us for our first showcase of the marvellous poetry events taking place in venues across Scotland, starting with three Edinburgh poetry nights – Inky Fingers Open Mic, Neu! Reekie! and 10RED.

John Hegley: Peace, Love and Potatoes Reading Friday 12 October, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. John Hegley, poet laureate of dogs and glasses as well as a mandolin-player and Poet-in-Residence at Keats House in Hampstead, dishes up delicacies from his new collection, Peace, Love and Potatoes.

By Leaves We Live Fair Saturday 27 October, 1 1am – 6pm, SPL, free. By Leaves We Live is our annual celebration of books and small creative presses. The SPL building is transformed into a book lover’s haven of stalls and displays, while workshops and talks are held throughout the day.

Mariscat 30

Singing Under Our Breath Reading Saturday 20 October, 1pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. John Killick and Ishbel McFarlane read poems by people with dementia, exploring their creativity. Part of Luminate: Scotland’s creative ageing festival celebrating and profiling our creative lives as we age.

Launch Saturday 27 October, 6pm, SPL, free. Mariscat Press reaches its thirtieth anniversary this year. Join Mariscat founder Hamish Whyte, and a selection of the poets he has published, to celebrate the launch of Cat’s Whiskers, a new anthology marking the occasion.

Film Poems with Peter Todd

Arc Publications: Bones Will Crow Launch Friday 26 October, 6.30pm, SPL, free. As Burma reaches a crossroads, the SPL is honoured to welcome three of the country’s poets, Thitsar Ni, Eaindra and ko ko thett, who will read and discuss their work and the role Buddhism plays in contemporary Burmese poetry with Bones Will Crow co-editor and co-translator James Byrne.

Poetry and Film Thursday 1 November, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. An evening of film poems by artists including Margaret Tait. The evening is curated by London-based artist and filmmaker, Peter Todd. Dr Sarah Neely (University of Stirling) will introduce the films.

she is in the smell of money and clean cotton sheets. From ‘The Charming Nancy’ by Miriam Gamble

PAS & SPL present: Peter McCarey and Richard Price Reading Wednesday 7 November, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions, free for PAS members. Peter McCarey (Collected Contraptions, Carcanet) and Richard Price (Small World, Carcanet), two Scottish Informationist poets, will read at this event presented jointly by PAS and SPL.

What I Love – What I Hate About Poetry Debate Thursday 8 November, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. We’re hosting a no-holds-barred debate chaired by Robyn Marsack, SPL’s Director, in which playwright David Greig, poet and editor Gerry Cambridge, journalist Alan Taylor and poets Stav Poleg and Liz Lochhead battle it out with you, the audience, to decide – how do we really feel about poetry?

Off By Heart Memory Circle Join Us Saturday 10 November, 1 1am, SPL, £5 / £3 concessions. Come along to recite the poems you know, or learn how to memorise a line or two at this sharing of poetry learned off by heart. Includes tea and coffee.

Gifted Book Sculptures Exhibition Saturday 24 November – Saturday 8 December, SPL, free. Of late, no other subject has attracted quite so much interest at the Scottish Poetry Library as that of the mysterious paper sculptures that we found in the SPL in 2011. We will be hosting an exhibition of ten sculptures as they reach the end of their Scotland-wide tour, just in time for Book Week Scotland. In partnership with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.

My Life in Poetry with Candia McWilliam Reading and Conversation Thursday 22 November, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. Re-launching our much loved Selected Works series, we’re thrilled to begin with Candia McWilliam, novelist and author of the autobiography, What to Look for in Winter. In conversation with Robyn Marsack, Candia will talk about her life through the lens of favourite poems.

Book Week Scotland: Helen Douglas and Valerie Gillies Reading and Conversation Tuesday 27 November, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. Does a book need a spine, pages, a cover? Artist Helen Douglas and poet Valerie Gillies tell us about their collaboration on a sumptuous scroll. Valerie will read poems and Helen will chronicle her most recent scroll work, The Pond at Deuchar.

Book Week Scotland: Artists’ Books

Alastair Cook’s Filmpoem Project and Absent Voices


Poetry and Film

Wednesday 28 November, 3pm – 4.30pm, SPL, free, places limited.

Thursday 6 December, 6.30pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions.

Join our Librarian, Julie Johnstone, who also runs a small press and makes artists’ books, as she selects some of her favourite items from the SPL’s special collections.

Presenting artist and filmmaker Alastair Cook’s startling Filmpoem collaborations with poets, and the launch of the Absent Voices Filmpoem project which re-inhabits the abandoned Greenock Sugar Sheds.

Book Week Scotland: Sacred Texts Reading and Conversation Thursday 29 November, 6.00pm, SPL, £7 / £5 concessions. In this 350th anniversary year of the Book of Common Prayer, and 30th anniversary of the New Testament in Scots, Robyn Marsack talks to Richard Holloway and James Robertson about the continuing influence of sacred texts on their own and others’ writing.

Book Week Scotland: Cut It Up Workshop Saturday 1 December, 1pm – 3pm, SPL, £10 / £8 concessions. The cut-up technique is an aleatory literary technique in which a text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text. - A cut-up of Wikipedia text. Join Jennifer (JL) Williams, poet and Programme Manager at the SPL, in this exploration of the art of cut-ups, and get started making some of your own oldnew poems.

Festive Filmpoems with Alastair Cook Children’s Workshop Saturday 15 December, 1 1am – 3pm, SPL, free. 8 – 16 year olds, 8 places (not including accompanying adults). Alastair Cook hosts this workshop in which you will have the opportunity to write a festive poem with poet JL Williams, then film and edit your own group Filmpoem which will be hosted on Alastair's site,, over Christmas. Please bring or buy lunch.

The Really, Really Boring Poetry Event Join Us Tuesday 11 December, 6.30pm, SPL, £5 / £3 concessions. Bring along a poem that bores you to tears, and join us over a glass of wine while we read, discuss and maybe even find a thing or two to like about boring poems.

what I love about many waters is their inability to quench love Edwin Morgan

More Ways You Can Get Together With Poetry... Getting Into Poetry I 4 sessions, £75 / £50 concession, SPL Friends & Scottish Storytelling Centre members. Tuesday evenings 16 October, 23 October, 30 October, 6 November 6.00 – 7.30pm. Friendly and encouraging ‘absolute beginners' course on reading poetry for pleasure. Explore rhyme and form. Go beyond the printed page. Discover new poetry with expert advice. Develop your reading strengths. Pick up a ‘toolkit' of technical terms. Get a personal plan of what to read next. Led by Lilias Fraser, Reader Development Officer, and Julie Johnstone, Librarian, from the Scottish Poetry Library. Getting Into Poetry II will follow in Spring 2013.

Nothing But the Poem Redux SPL, £5 / £3 concessions. Thurs 27 September, 6 – 7.30pm & Sat 29 September 1 1am – 12.30, ​Margaret Tait. Thurs 18 October, 6 – 7.30pm & Sat 20 October 1 1am – 12.30, ​​Anne Stevenson. Thurs 15 November 6 – 7.30pm & Sat 17 November 1 1am – 12.30, ​​Robin Robertson. Thurs 13 December 6 –7.30pm & Sat 15 December* 1 1am – 12.30, ​​Kay Ryan. *Please note the 15 December session will take place upstairs at Hemma. Our reading group where we read and explore poems by a well-known poet – no previous knowledge or experience necessary! And this year we’ve added a twist: at each meeting, we’ll also introduce you to an ‘if you liked this, you might like’ poet whose poems might tickle your fancy.

NoTES For more details on events, directions to the library and other information, please see our website, or call us on 0131 557 2876. Friends of the SPL receive the concession rate for events and workshops. Please go to for event booking. Thank you to our Patrons – The Binks Trust, Dr David Summers Charitable Trust and Ian Wall – and Friends, Partners and Sponsors for their generous support. Many thanks also to Hemma. To support the SPL by being a Patron, Companion or Friend, please see Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DT.

Available in large print.

Scottish Poetry Library Autumn Programme 2012  

Dichotomy – An Autumn Season of Parts and Wholes Edwin Morgan wrote a wonderful poem called ‘A View of Things’ in which each line begins wit...