Blog Our Sweet Old Etcetera

Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

The Thursday Post: If you like this, then....

Libraries are like unexplored continents full of rich and strange flora and fauna; one is continually making discoveries. Which is apt, as this week we celebrate Book Week Scotland! Whose theme this year is – you guessed it – discovery. To mark the occasion, we’re inviting you to ‘discover’ poets and poems you might not know yet. Visitors to the Library can pick up a series of attractive guide cards that give you the low down on many facets of the SPL and its services, a great way to ‘discover’ the activities we do: we might have ‘library’ in our title, but we do so much more, from events to workshops.

We’d also like to direct you towards a wonderful new way of discovering poets without leaving your desk. Robert Peake, the poet behind Transatlantic Poetry On Air, is a mean coder, and has put together a fantastic website that recommends poets on the basis of your preferences. It’s a mix of Spotify and Wikipedia – and you can find it here.

Here’s what you do. Once you’re on the website’s home page, type in the name of a poet that you like. ‘Robert Burns’, say. You will be led to another page where you will find three sources of information. One is a list of poet names, recommendations based on the poet you’ve said you like. You can click on the names to find more information or, more excitingly, you can turn the list into a spidery graph that shows the connections between the poets. Another link will take you to biographies of the suggested poets, more often than not on the Poetry Foundation website. And the third source is a link that takes you to an online catalogue listing the poet’s complete publications (the SPL’s own catalogue is one the sources you might be taken to).

If you have difficulties getting online access and live in the Edinburgh area, you can come into the SPL, where we’ve hooked up an iPad to the site for users to play with.

Three cheers for Robert Peake, who set the website up for free out of a love of poetry that he wanted to share. Just think of what could we achieve with a hundred people like that!

Category: poets