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The Thursday Post: Best Scottish Poems 2017 is coming

You'll find the 20 poems in BSP 2017 in these books - but what are they?
You'll find the 20 poems in BSP 2017 in these books - but what are they?

It’s that time of year again, when we look back to look forward. On Friday, 27 April, the SPL will publish its annual online anthology Best Scottish Poems, guest edited by musician Roddy Woomble.

Each spring since 2005, the Library has published on our website a collection of the best 20 poems published the previous year in books, pamphlets, and magazines; the poems are by a Scot or a poet based in Scotland. Previous editors have included Jen Hadfield, Janice Galloway and Alan Spence. We’ve seen Woomble’s list and it’s a fascinating mix of poems by well kent faces and new talent. Who made the cut? You’ll have to wait until next Friday when all will be revealed.

We’ll also use social media throughout the day to shine a light on the poems chosen, tweeting lines and linking to recordings made by the BSP poets. Starting next Friday, we’ll also be changing the Poem of the Moment on the SPL website homepage every day for four weeks; each one of the 20 BSP poems will be given that spot.

Roddy Woomble was born in 1976 in the west of Scotland. He had a peripatetic childhood, with spells in France and the United States. After school, Woomble moved to Edinburgh to study photography, and it was here, in 1995, he became one of the founding members of the band Idlewild. In their first incarnation, Idlewild were known for their spiky, guitar-driven music, although over the years their sound has developed, and now takes in country and folk influences. Woomble remains one of the UK’s most thoughtful lyricists, with a track record of collaborating with writers. Idlewild’s 2002 album The Remote Part concludes with ‘In Remote Part / Scottish Fiction’, which featured Edwin Morgan reading a poem he wrote specially for the song. Woomble also performs a solo artist, with his last album The Deluder released in 2017.

‘I never enjoyed poetry in school,’ Woomble says. ‘I never understood why you had to analyse the meaning. I liked to live in the mystery! Songs lead you back to poetry eventually, though, and at 18 I fell heavily under the spell of all the Beat-era poets – Richard Brautigan especially. Frank O’Hara was another favourite. In my early 20s I discovered George Mackay Brown, who remains maybe my favourite poet. I worked my way through all the poets from Sandy Moffat’s ‘Poet Pub’ painting: Norman MacCaig, Sorley Maclean, and Edwin Morgan, who made a lasting impression. So, I guess Scottish poetry is my main love, and poems from the 50s and 60s American counterculture. I’m still discovering, though – Hera Lindsey Bird is a recent favourite. I’m drawn to vagueness I must say. I see poetry, like lyrics, as patterns made with words.’

Brautigan, O’Hara, Mackay Brown, MacCaig, Morgan, Bird – does that give a clue to the sort of poems Woomble has chosen for his pick of 2017? Only one way to find out. See you on Friday 27, friends.

Category: poems, Scottish Poetry Library