Blog Our Sweet Old Etcetera

Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

Spring Forward!

“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring,” as Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, an observation we can hardly deny after the past couple of days of daffodil-bright sunshine. We lose an hour this weekend and gain a new season (remember, clock-winders, ‘Spring forward’). The sap is rising, the sky’s blue deepening, and poets’ pens are starting to twitch. The SPL is not immune either.

This week we had a proper spring clean of our garage. Old card racks and broken tables were black-bagged. Cleaning was also the subject of a recent poem featured in the SPL’s London 2012 project, The Written World. You’ll recall we’re choosing a poem to represent each of the country’s taking part in the Olympics. In Mauritius’s entry “As the Child Looks On”, its author Saradha Soobrayen depicts a mother cleaning, a scene familiar whichever part of the world you hail from: ‘She is spit, she is steam, / her stare removes the creases.'

The landscape is beginning to thaw out and don new shades. ‘Walking down Crichton’s Close, you can lift your eyes to Salisbury Crags and see stick-figures on the crest, like miniaturised Antony Gormley sculptures,’ writes SPL Director Robyn Marsack. ‘I’m thinking in terms of art because I’m one of the judges for the annual NGS “Inspired? Get Writing!” competition, and have read so many evocations of moods and stories drawn from paintings and sculptures by writers aged from 8 to 80.’ The SPL is pleased to get involved in the “Inspired? Get Writing!” competition because it’s a pleasure discovering new voices in the springtime of their writing career.

Should you arrive at the SPL on a sunny day and want a quiet spot outdoors to read the latest title you’ve borrowed, can we recommend you walk over to nearby Dunbar’s Close, where you will find a beautiful garden created by innovative town planner and poet Sir Patrick Geddes (whose words ‘by leaves we live’ are inscribed on the SPL’s threshold). Wordsworth’s thoughts in ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’ could have been set down here:

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

And if you’re in the mood for more poetry al fresco, Ken Cockburn is inviting readers to join him on poetry walks of Edinburgh’s hills.

Finally, speaking of new beginnings… We’re very pleased that Jennifer Williams – currently Literary Officer at the Traverse Theatre – will be joining us as the SPL’s Programme Manager. Graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Glasgow, Jennifer will be building on existing strengths and bringing a fresh perspective to our events programme. So save your brilliant suggestions for when her inbox opens, bud-like, in May!