Monthly Archive: January 2016

Facelift for the Writers’ Museum

Writers' Museum

Poem for The Writers’ Museum

The Writers’ Museum in Lady Stairs’ Close, lying between the Royal Mile and the Mound, reopened on 22nd January after refurbishment.  The collections celebrating Burns, Scott and Stevenson are still the focus of the Museum but the main floor is now a more welcoming, flexible space which can host events; and the Museum has a more direct link with the work of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.  Definitely worth a visit, taking in Makars’ Court as you go!  I was asked to write a poem for the reopening and found that it had been beautifully framed.

Design and photo by Karen Scarlett

Writing poetry is hard work!

Thinking about words

Workshop with pupils at Granton Primary

On Tuesday 12th January I had a lovely afternoon with pupils from Granton Primary, hosted by the local library.  The library is joined on to the school so the children arrived through their own secret entrance!  They wanted to write poems with a Scottish theme.  Some chose historical figures, some chose contemporary heroes and some came from the world of literature.

Here are some of them just warming up to the task!

Bearing Light – the refugee crisis

Procession in Sassari

Bearing aloft the Candelieri through the streets of Sassari

On 10th January 2016 Scotland on Sunday printed ‘Bearing Light’, a poem of mine which reflected on the recent refugee crisis in Syria and beyond.  I hadn’t set out to write about that topic, but it just wouldn’t go away.








Not even five centuries can snuff out Sardinia’s

Candelieri, gratitude for the plague’s ending.

Sassari youths stagger under the precious burdens,

one per guild – cobblers, smiths – then step adeptly,

as lightning rods through crowds, to a steady drum.


We too mark borders of our trading guilds,

spheres of influence: horses ride out, banners raised,

bonfires lit. It’s pageant now: a flicker of history;

embers of memory, of pride and sacrifice. Times

pass – till son et lumière, a play of light suffices.


But still there’s darkness: nihilism, wintering,

a quenching of any kindly flame. Uprooted

from hearths, a plagued people is groping its way,

testing our boundaries of humanity; seeking

a welcome, the slightest spark of hope.


On 15th August, Feast of the Assumption of Mary, huge ‘candlesticks’ are paraded through the town. It remains the most significant festivity of Sassari in NW Sardinia.