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

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 will be on show at a range of venues this autumn, 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: look out for the film in the festival venues 

Meanwhile, this is Kyra's comment on the making of the film:

The map unrolled….

"The film is a work of translation art; a synthesis of voices, languages, and perspectives crystallising around a remarkable journey.

Gerry Hughes’ solo circumnavigation of the globe via the five great capes was a feat later recognised with an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow. But at the banquet held in the weeks following the sailor’s safe return Gary Quinn - in the true bardic tradition of British Sign Language (BSL) poetry - honoured Gerry in verse. Gary’s original poem witnessed Gerry’s life, his struggles, his determination and his triumph in fifteen minutes of flowing creativity.

In the year that passed between its first performance and the making of this film, Gary had been asked to recite the poem so many times he was grateful for the opportunity to commit it to record, despite the necessary dramatic reduction in its form. A kind and generous soul, Gary took news of each further cut squarely on the chin, acquiescing with a gentle nod of his head.

His magnanimity was matched by Christine De Luca. The Edinburgh Makar greeted the idea of this project with honest excitement. As she and I looked over the rough edit and discussed my loose content notes, she brimmed with enthusiasm. Over a Skype connection to Shetland we giggled as her poetic imagination immediately conjured words that captured Gary’s metaphors and laced his work with her own fingerprints. And Christine did her homework; researching all she could of Gerry’s journey she noted those in whose wake he had sailed (‘Odysseus, Chichester’), alongside the facts of his voyage (‘8 months, 32000 miles’).

In her native Shetlandic, the flow of the verse changed again - eddies catching around yet other moments (‘smeddum’, ‘aber, foo o sea stories’).

The result is no more a set of literal translations than Gary’s original verse was a literal translation of Gerry’s journey. You will find elements in the Shetlandic that are not fully represented in either the English or the BSL, elements of the BSL that escape both written (or spoken) languages.

The film is designed this way. After two decades of working as an interpreter and translator it is the inevitable spaces between languages that interest me - the gaps that are filled with our cultures,
our selves, our imaginations.

Yet I also recognised that for the majority of people coming to this film BSL would be the most difficult language to appreciate. David Bell’s kinetic typography is, therefore, yet another layer of translation.

As we sat in his office in Appleton Towers I explained the significance and particular beauty of Gary’s expressions, handshapes, movements, tempos and spatial placings whilst David harnessed his  technical and artistic abilities to bend Christine’s English to the service of these properties.

I had wanted to make a piece that placed BSL - one of Scotland’s indigenous languages - alongside some of its siblings; a work that might in some way allow those who do not sign to begin to encounter the beauty of sign language poetry.

Gary, Christine, David and I have been on our own small journey. Funding from Creative Scotland and the National Lottery allowed us to conceive of the travel in the first instance, the good folk of the Scottish Poetry Library serviced all the navigation we needed and Gerry Hughes lent his support by generously allowing us access to his personal photographs. On the way we have each learned something of the other and of their craft.

We hope now that you will join us."

Kyra Pollitt, Artist in Residence, Scottish Poetry Library, 2014

Commonwealth Poets United

Building on the success of Poetry 2012 the Scottish Poetry Library in collaboration with BBC Scotland will present 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 will give public readings in locations across Scotland and take part in school visits from March 2013. They will record their experiences for BBC broadcast and record poems for SPL podcasts and website. The 12 poets will 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 is an exciting residency opportunity for four poets. The project involves 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 are 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 have been selected via an open call application process, and each will have 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 are scheduled to take place throughout 2013.  The poets are Sue Butler (Benmore), Mandy Haggith (Edinburgh), Jean Atkin (Logan), and Gerry Loose (Dawyck).  A closing event will be held at RGBE on St Andrew’s Day 2013.

The Scottish Poetry Library is working 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 constitute Edinburgh Printmakers Winter exhibition entitled The Written Image, and demonstrate 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

Living Voices

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

The Scottish Poetry Library is working with the Scottish Storytelling Centre on a national pilot project to explore working with older audiences.

  • This is based on successful pilot projects in Edinburgh, the Storytelling Centre’s ‘Life Stories’ and the SPL’s ‘Read Aloud’ with Edinburgh City Libraries, where either professional storytellers or volunteer readers work with a range of senior groups and carehomes.
  • The familiar patterns and rhythms of well-known songs and poems spark engagement, pleasure and reminiscence, often where participants may otherwise seem to be withdrawn or unresponsive.

The project is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Baring Foundation, The Gannochy Trust and the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. We are working  in partnership with Perth and Kinross Libraries and Information Services to deliver Living Voices in Care Homes across Perthshire.  We also value the support of partners in the other pilot areas: Aberdeen City Libraries, South Ayrshire Libraries, Aberdeen Council Social Care and Wellbeing team, South Ayrshire Council, Voluntary Action South Ayrshire & Perthshire Care Home Activity Co-ordinators Network. The project manager is Emma Faragher.  For more information, get in touch with her at


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