Edinburgh Makar

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Royal Mile statues – Adam Smith

S on S photo May 2015About the time of the General Election Scotland on Sunday published my poem about the statue to the famous Scottish economist, Adam Smith. The poem rather lost its shape in the columns, so here it is.

The invisible hand

Royal Mile statue of Adam Smith by Alexander Stoddart

You must have had a natty tailor – that coat:
cuffed, collared and buttoned to perfection.
Your draped cloak softens it, protects from winds
of close and wynd. Those buckles must have cost
a bob or two as well, and your full wig.
 Where you stand you can
almost see Kirkcaldy: cornerstone of character where
you learned the basics, built on them brilliantly;
where you saw men paid in nails, their work
a cannie commodity for barter.
 That gaze hides much:
a soft heart, perhaps a nervous disposition.
More than likely you soldiered on with just
your widowed mother: there seems a touch
of melancholy in your stance.
 But you were wedded
to debate, enlightenment; thrust your learning
through the engine of your diverse faculties, built
sound new theories – PolEcon we called it in the 60s.
You reasoned that hoards of gold, alone,
 are no true measure
of a nation’s wealth; that Productivity and GDP
can measure Systems. Your Wealth of Nations,
that weighty bible of free market Capitalism, set out
the links: competition, self-interest, prosperity.
 But you were also grounded
in Philosophy; wrote of Beauty, Order, Harmony;
of Good and Evil; knew the underpinnings of morality,
of faith. Your writing was plinthed on the invisible hand,
the hand that seeks the greatest good for all.
 That plinth has gone now.
Would you be shocked? Would you be writing
a new treatise, re-defining Capitalism for this
Global era? You look east, well above our heads;
your vision still clear as a bell.

And the article by Shân Ross   photograph by Andrew O’Brien

Poetry and Business link

Ingrid Murray & Christine

Relaxing with Ingrid after recording the poem

Who says poetry and business can’t mix?
I’ve recently been writing, with the help of local poet Ingrid Murray, a longish poem celebrating the Royal Mile as a vibrant business area. Here’s a snippet from the Lawnmarket section

On day 4, cross the Upper Bow, look north.
Tweed and dashing tartan; a caricature of us in
‘See You Jimmy’ hats and ‘gingerbread’ moustaches.

Here, Hume and Geddes consort with the Free Kirk
and there, a touch of former glory: Gladstone’s Land,
Makars’ Court. Rub shoulders with Deacon Brodie.

On day 5, look south. Kilts and cashmere, a nip or two.
Monarchs and nobles made this place their own.
James VI threw banquets in Riddell’s Court – a jewel.

On day 6, look north, Hume outside the High Court,
secrets in Mary King’s Close, slithers of skylines.
And, what a treat, neat shops: worth lingering.

The poem, which may yet appear in marketing mode, was commissioned by The Royal Mile Business Association (RMBA)

Tweet your Street! Poetry project for schools

I met with teachers to share plans for Tweet your Street, a fun poetry project for schools. They were game to get involved! Here they are, having just written ‘tweetable’ poems about their streets.
The children will be able to ‘pin’ their own poems to a computer-based map of the city, hosted on this website. The Central Library will also be involved.

Teacher write poems

Working with Teachers at a CPD session

Launch of ‘Like leaves in Autumn’ – Ungaretti’s WWI poetry

Like Leaves in Autumn is a collection of twenty one poems by Giuseppe Ungaretti translated into English, twenty one new poems by contemporary Scottish poets writing in response to Ungaretti, and twenty one black-and-white artworks from the ARTIST ROOMS collection. Carlo Pirozzi and Katherine Lockton edited the collection, with translations provided by Heather Scott.  Pub  Luath Press, Edinburgh, 2015.

Group photo at launch

From left: Charlotte Kedslie, Carlo Pirozzi, Carlo Francini, Katherine Lockton, Christine De Luca, Giuseppe De Micheli

The launch, which included poetry, animation, film and music, took place on Saturday 20th March at the Talbot Rice Gallery.  The Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, welcomed Carlo Francini and Giuseppe de Micheli from Florence, our twin city over 50 years.  Summerhall TV made this short film about the project.

10th Anniversary of Edinburgh as UNESCO’s first City of Literature

Makar's poem projected in Krakow

Part of my poem ‘Edinburgh Volte-Face’ projected in a Krakow square. Krakow is a UNESCO City of Literature too

It’s hard to believe that it is now 10 years since Edinburgh was designated the inaugural UNESCO City of Literature, at an event in Paris. On 30th March the Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, hosted a reception in the City Chambers. I read a poem Through the Traffic of Tongues, commissioned to mark the occasion.  It contains snippets of poems by the three previous Makars.

Through the traffic of tongues

A poem to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Edinburgh’s
designation as UNESCO’s first City of Literature

Ten years we’ve had of trafficking,
of keeping borders open through words,
through discerning conversation,

the hospitality of books. Seven citadels
of literature, all fostered from a dream;
seven hills and heavens, cities of possibilities.  …


The Edinburgh Award 2015

Edinburgh Award 2015

Tom Gilzean receives the Edinburgh Award for 2015

Edinburgh Makar reads poem for Tom Gilzean

Edinburgh Makar, Christine De Luca, reads her commissioned poem ‘Out in Front’ for Tom Gilzean

I was delighted to read and present my poem, Out in Front, to Tom Gilzean, winner of the Edinburgh Award 2015. Tom’s citation is for his inspiring and selfless contribution to Edinburgh. He has personally raised over £250,000 for local charities. The photo on the left shows Tom, flanked by me (on his right) and Lord Provost Donald Wilson (on his left), at the City Chambers reception on 17th March. Photos courtesy of Lloyd Smith Photography.

Making a link with ELISA

A doorway in KrakowELISA (Edinburgh Library & Information Services Agency) links Edinburgh’s many wonderful libraries.  They wanted me to write a little about the Makar’s role and my recent brief trip to Krakow.

This was a wonderful opportunity to visit a city I had long wanted to see, a city which had recently been designated a UNESCO City of Literature.  To welcome us they had projected poems on to a wall in a city centre square.  The poem of mine selected was less than flattering about Edinburgh! (But I did write it a long time ago and balanced it with a love poem to the city, written more recently!)