Edinburgh Makar

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Edinburgh’s inaugural Makar, Stewart Conn, to give 2016 John Masefield Lecture

 The Poetry Association of Scotland & The Muriel Spark Society

present

the 2016 John Masefield Lecture

MISTRESS OF UNEASE : THE POETRY OF MURIEL SPARK

by Stewart Conn

Wednesday 14 September 2016 at the Scottish Poetry Library,

5 Crichton’s Close,

Edinburgh EH8 8DT

 

Tickets at the door (£5 or £4 concessions). Wine reception from 6.30 – 7 pm.  The talk will begin at 7 pm.

‘Reading the City’ at EIBF

Christine, Ron and James

Christine with Ron Butlin and James Loxley

Gearing up for an EIBF event on Sunday 21st August with Edinburgh’s previous Makar, Ron Butlin and Professor James Loxley of Edinburgh University.  James chaired the event skilfully and we read poems from Sir Walter Scott to Muriel Spark, from Stewart Conn to Angus Calder and from Robert Garioch to Valerie Gillies, as well as a few of our own.   Surprising how many folk are ready for a poem first thing on a Sunday morning!

Edwin Morgan Poetry Award at EIBF 2016

EMPA -Winner and runner up

Winner Penny Boxall, 2nd from right, with runner-up Miriam Nash, organiser/trustee Hamish Whyte and me.

We had a delightful evening on 18th August at the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award event at the 2016 Edinburgh International Book Festival.   The winner was Penny Boxall and the runner up was Miriam Nash.  Congratulations are due to all six who were short-listed.  The others were Claire Askew, Sophie Collins, Harry Giles and Stewart Sanderson.  The judges – who had had a tough job deciding – were Jackie Kay and Stewart Conn.

 

Response poem to the Paolozzi-inspired mural at Leith Walk Primary School

Paolozzi-inspired mural

Handing over the poem in front of part of the Paolozzi-inspired mural

Edinburgh-born artist Eduardo Paolozzi attended Leith Walk Primary School.  The children there responded to his art with a striking playground mural, reflecting his styles and themes.  Encouraged by Dr Carlo Pirozzi, I recently wrote a poem about their mural and, on Monday 20th June, handed it over to their head teacher Ms Anne Houliston.  I was accompanied by Carlo and by Paolozzi’s sister, Yolanda.

Poems inspired by one of Edinburgh’s great artists -Eduardo Paolozzi

Big foot!

Part of the Manuscript of Monte Cassino

Lately I have been writing several poems inspired by the work of the late Eduardo Paolozzi, one of Edinburgh’s foremost 20th century artists. We are fortunate to have several of his best known sculptures in our city (for example The MS of Monte Cassino) as well as the stunning stained-glass window designed by him for St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, in Palmerston Place.  This project is being orchestrated by Dr Carlo Pirozzi of St Andrews University.

 

 

Paolozzi playground mural

Part of tribute mural at Leith Walk Primary School

 

 

Besides these, his recreated studio at Modern 2 and the playground mural in his honour at Leith Walk Primary School, his alma mater, have been inspirational.

Art College students find inspiration in Royal Mile poem

Tunnel book

One example of a tunnel book in a star shape

Recently a group of second year Illustration students from Edinburgh College of Art undertook a project which involved working in teams to produce 3D ‘tunnel books’ based on the Royal Mile.   They were led by the artist Brigid Collins.

They used the poem A Month on the Mile  (written by myself and Ingrid Murray) as a jumping-off point to discover more of the history as well as the contemporary feel of this famous street.   They made a lovely job of their books!

Edinburgh’s Unsung – they keep the gas flowing safely

Morrison St gas main replaced

Replacing a major gas main in Morrison Street, city centre

On 17th March I spent a happy morning with staff of Scotland Gas Networks (SGN).  They were replacing a major mains pipe in Morrison Street in the city centre.  I was intrigued by the complexity of what lies beneath our streets; and how skilled they have to be to work safely while keeping both the gas and the traffic flowing.

In the Orchard Brae area, where they are also replacing the old cast iron mains, I was shown how they detect the pipes.

Now for a poem …

Edinburgh Award Ceremony – Sir Tom Farmer

 

Sir Tom Farmer receives his poem

Handing over the poem to Sir Tom Farmer
(Lloyd Smith Photography)

I was honoured to read the poem I had been commissioned to write for Sir Tom Farmer on being given the Edinburgh Award for 2015.  Much as he has been given many honours over the years, it was a special moment for him to be recognised by his own city.  His philanthropic work in Edinburgh and beyond is well known.

Visitors from Norway

Literature across Frontiers

Norwegian visitors enjoying a meal

Recently Ottar Grepstad and seventeen of his colleagues from the Nynorsk Cultural Centre in Western Norway spent a study weekend in Edinburgh, exploring the city and learning about our languages and literature.

Some years ago I was invited to their Ivar Aasen centre to talk about Shetlandic language and literature.

It was a special treat to meet up with them again in Edinburgh.