Projects & partners

The Scottish Poetry Library rarely walks alone; it works with a wide variety of partners – from Maggie’s Centres to the Royal Collection to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport – to deliver the benefits and delights of poetry.

Current projects

Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors

Graduating medical students 2014, (c) University of Dundee

Tools of the Trade is a pocket-sized anthology of around 50 poems and extracts. It is edited by doctors, includes poems by doctor-poets, and has been made possible entirely by private donations, many from GPs or their families. It is a gift from the medical community to future colleagues, given to all graduating doctors in Scotland in 2014 and in 2015.  We hope to plan for a second edition for graduations in 2016, but will need to fundraise further.

As well as the goodwill and administrative help of the four medical schools in Scotland, there's been a wonderful response to this book from across the UK and further afield. Coverage in 2014 including a lovely blog by Dr Richard Smith at the BMJ, Daisy Goodwin's Sunday Times column, and a segment on Radio 4's Front Row has helped spread the word so successfully that now the small proportion of copies set aside for sale in 2014 & 2015 is entirely sold out!  You can, however, read many (though not all) of the poems in the book online.

PS  If you would like to make a donation to help us give these books to graduates in 2016 and even beyond, please visit our JustGiving page. If you are a new doctor who received one of these poetry books, we'd be delighted if you could take a few minutes to email us some feedback to help us plan future editions.

Baring ‘Late Style’ Artists Commissions


We are currently working with poets Douglas Dunn, Vicki Feaver and Diana Hendry on a commission to write on the theme of age. Selections from their work can be seen in:

  • the Scottish Review of Books (August 2015 issue)
  • the programme for the 2015 Luminate Festival (Scotland’s creative ageing festival: see from September 2015)
  • Second Wind, the 9th issue in the Saltire Society’s most recent pamphlet series (launched 15 October 2015 and on sale in our shop)
  • a new anthology for 2016 from Polygon/Birlinn

Further development of the work is under discussion.

This new work is part of The Baring Foundation’s  'Late Style' Artists Commissions Series. The Baring Foundation has pioneered support for a wide range of arts programmes supporting older people to enjoy and take part in the arts.  This series supports leading professional artists, all of whom are over 70,  to bring their original and exceptional artistic craft and  insights to the theme of 'Age'. Eleven new works will reach a variety of spaces and audiences, between 2015 – 2017. Artists include leaders in the fields of Carnival Arts, Dance and Choreography, Digital Arts, Sculpture, Wood Carving, Musical Composition, Theatre and  Poetry. 

As the only literature commission in this new commission series, and one of only two commissions based in Scotland, this is an exciting development in our work and we are delighted that it is being supported by The Baring Foundation.

'In the current climate of public debate, the topic of ageing is often reduced to questions of cost and  care, and  creativity is linked with youth, while older creative artists still frequently seem to be portrayed as the exception. We’re proud to be celebrating the new work of  three such significant and consistently inventive writers who confound restrictive perceptions.' – Kate Organ, Arts Adviser, The Baring Foundation

Promoting Equalities Programme

We are looking at equalities and access in the Scottish Poetry Library, with support from Creative Scotland's pilot Promoting Equalities Programme. The first artist residency, to help us explore how we could improve services for all library users, is with Kyra Pollitt, BSL interpreter and poetry researcher, and artist. BSL poet Gary Quinn, English/Shetlandic poet Christine De Luca and Kyra, with kinetic titling by Interface 3, made this moving poem film.

The film was on show at a range of venues in autumn 2014, including: Macrobert Centre, Stirling:  25 September - 9 October:  TV screens in the cafe bar area, and in the cinema before films; Dundee Literary Festival, 22-26 October: on a loop in the Festival foyer in Bonar Hall; Wordplay, Shetland's annual book festival, 12-16 November: in the festival venues.

Meanwhile, you can read Kyra's comment on the making of the film on our blog here.

Living Voices

Working with the Scottish Storytelling Centre in care homes and with senior groups

The Scottish Poetry Library is continuing to work in partnership with the Scottish Storytelling Centre to develop our worki with older people and in care homes.  Following a successful pilot phase 2012-14 we are running an exciting programme in 2015 focussing on training and development with care staff and working with a range of new audiences. Our work in 2015 is funded by  the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. The project manager is Martha Pollard.  For more information and to read evaluation reports about the pilot visit our 'for carers' page or get in touch with Martha at

Commonwealth Poets United

Building on the success of Poetry 2012 the Scottish Poetry Library in collaboration with BBC Scotland presented poetry from around the Commonwealth in Commonwealth Poets United. Six Scottish poets and poets with links to Scotland from Canada, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa gave public readings in locations across Scotland and took part in school visits from March 2013. They recorded their experiences for BBC broadcast and record poems for SPL podcasts and website. The 12 poets were also be commissioned to create new work for the BBC’s Sonnets from Sunrise to Sunset project. (Part of Culture 2014 and Festival 2014).

Walking With Poets

Walking With Poets was an exciting residency opportunity for four poets. The project involved setting up poetry residencies at the four Gardens of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Edinburgh; Benmore, Argyll; Dawyck, Scottish Borders; and Logan, Dumfries & Galloway), as well as at Cove Park.

The residencies were designed by the RBGE and the Scottish Poetry Library to provide an exceptional opportunity for poets to immerse themselves in these magnificent environments and share their awareness, their practice, and their vision of nature with communities around Scotland and the world.

Four poets were selected via an open call application process, and each had a month long writing and walking residency at their assigned garden, as well as a fortnight’s residency at Cove Park. The project was launched to coincide with the celebration of John Muir’s birthday on 21 April, and the residencies took place throughout 2013.  The poets are Sue Butler (Benmore), Mandy Haggith (Edinburgh), Jean Atkin (Logan), and Gerry Loose (Dawyck).  A closing event was held at RGBE on St Andrew’s Day 2013.

The Scottish Poetry Library worked with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to host four month-long residencies with poets who will enrich the public’s encounters with nature. This project has been made possible thanks to:

Year of Natural Scotland funding from Creative Scotland, and additional support from the Big Give and Cove Park.

The Written Image

Edinburgh Printmakers and the Scottish Poetry Library partnered in mid-2013 to launch a project fostering collaborations between printmakers and poets.  The results of these collaborations constituted Edinburgh Printmakers Winter exhibition entitled The Written Image, and demonstrated the rich variety and depth of creative stimulation engendered by cross-form exploration.  Printmaking and poetry are both forms that use image as a means of conveying the artist’s ideas and intentions, and through these pairings we look at how image can be the vehicle that links and inspires artists across media.

Follow updates from the artists and poets here.

Benefits of Project:

  • Participants developing new ways of thinking and working
  • Development of new working relationships with the potential for ongoing collaboration
  • Raising the profile of the partners and participants
  • Opportunity to engage new audiences through partnership working
  • Exciting new partnership between Edinburgh Printmakers and the Scottish Poetry Library with the potential for future projects
  • Partners and participants sharing costs
  • New partnerships through the touring programme
  • New networks between poets and printmakers


  • Jennifer Williams – The Scottish Poetry Library
  • Sarah-Manning Shaw – Edinburgh Printmakers

Exhibition Venue:

Edinburgh Printmakers, 23 Union Street, EH1 3LR

Dates of Exhibition:

16 November to 21 December 2013

Spoken Image Event:

4 December (see prints and hear readings from the poets, with a glass of wine)
We aim to tour the exhibition throughout Scotland in 2014.

List of Poets:

Catherine Sadler
Brian Johnstone
Christine de Luca
Colin Donati
Colin Herd
Elizabeth Reeder
Gerry Cambridge
Janette Ayachi
Kathrine Sowerby
Ken Cockburn
Tom Pow
Michael Pedersen
Robert Crawford
Vicki Husband
Patricia Ace
Theresa Munoz
Nick-e Melville
Stav Poleg
Richie McCaffery
Samuel Tongue
Diana Hendry
Paula Jennings
Dorothy Alexander
Pippa Little
Niall Campbell
Kevin MacNeil
Hamish Whyte
Donald Murray
Nalini Paul
Kathleen Jamie
Catriona Yule
Molly Beal
Helen Evans
Rebecca Sharp
Anita John
Alexander Hutchison
Anna Robinson

List of Printmakers:

Ana Speedie
Anne Forte
Anne Murray
Anupa Gardner
Catherine Hiley
Catherine Outram
Catherine Sargeant
Eoin Dallas
Frank Pottinger
Gavin Johnston
Gillian Murray
Hilke MacIntyre
Jessica Crisp
Joyce Gunn Cairns
Kelly Stewart
Kittie Jones
Laura Gressani
Leena Nammari
Lindy Furby
Linda Kosciewicz-Fleming
Mark Doyle
Matthew Simos
Morvern Odling
Norman McBeath
Pat Crombie
Paul Musgrove
Rona MacLean
Sarah Keast
Shelagh Atkinson
Susan Wilson
Miriam Vickers
Lesley Logue
David Faithfull
Susanna Stark
Chris Sleath
Alastair Clark
Roos Dijkhuizen


In 2010 we received a grant from the National Lottery though Creative Scotland to create a model poetry resource - innovative, imaginative, integrated and sustainable - reaching a wide range of users, while also expanding the SPL’s income-generating capacity. Specifically, we recognized that in order to implement our overall strategy of bringing people and poems together, we needed to

  • install a new open source library management system that maximized cost savings and user benefits
  • introduce an open source customer relationship management system in order to more effectively communicate and track the behaviour of our audiences and stakeholders
  • redevelop our website and the technology we use to maintain it
  • expand, embed and consolidate Web 2.0 opportunities into our day-to-day working practice
  • develop new ways of harnessing financial support that can be reinvested in future digital development, including online facilities for shopping, donating and subscribing as Friends

Creative Scotland National Lottery logo

Our partner organisations

We welcome initiatives involving poetry, as in recent projects with the new Crichton Hospital and (separately!) Scottish Badgers. Please get in touch with us if you think we could extend and enhance your project.

Cultural agencies

  • British Council
  • Goethe-Institut
  • Institut français
  • Literature Across Frontiers


  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh International Science Festival
  • StAnza
  • Ullapool Book Festival and The Ceilidh Place
  • Wigtown Book Festival

Literature & arts organisations

  • Arvon Foundation at Moniack Mhor
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
  • Filmhouse
  • Poetry Association of Scotland
  • Poetry Book Society
  • Poetry Society
  • Poetry Translation Centre
  • School of Poets
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • South Bank Centre

Local authorities

  • Angus Council
  • Argyll & Bute Council
  • Dumfries & Galloway Arts Association
  • Dumfries & Galloway CREATE
  • Dumfries & Galloway Council
  • Dumfries & Galloway Libraries
  • East Dunbartonshire Libraries
  • Edinburgh City Libraries
  • Elgin Library
  • Falkirk Libraries
  • Glasgow Libraries
  • Highland Libraries
  • Moray Libraries
  • Orkney Library and Archive
  • Renfrewshire Libraries
  • Shetland Arts
  • Shetland Library
  • Western Isles Libraries

National institutions

  • BBC
  • Historic ScotlandNational Galleries of Scotland
  • National Library of Scotland
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • National Trust for Scotland
  • Poppyscotland
  • Scottish Parliament


  • Edinburgh College of Art
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of the West of Scotland Ayr