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Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

The Thursday Post on NPD: Dr Wha materialises

The first week of October is turning out to be a very exciting time for the staff of the Scottish Poetry Library. Not only does Thursday, the 4th, mark this year’s National Poetry Day, three days later on the 7th, the new series of Doctor Who starts. With Jodie Whittaker, the first woman actor taking on the title role in its 55-year history, change is very much in the air – which chimes very nicely with National Poetry Day’s theme for 2018, which just happens to be ‘change’.

Indeed, one of the six poems that we’ve chosen to represent NPD and its ‘change’ theme is James Robertson’s poem ‘Dr Wha’. Written in 2012 for the sci-fi poetry anthology Where Rockets Burn Through (Penned in the Margin), Robertson’s poem depicts in Scots the marvel of the Time Lord and their adventures.

Wha’s Doctor Wha? Wha better kens nor he
that jouks the yetts and rides the birlin wheels
o time and space, shape-shiftin as he reels
through endless versions o reality?

Read the entire poem here.

But that’s not all. The National Library of Scotland has made a short film based on ‘Dr Wha’. The film features several actual medical doctors and NLS staff members plus James Robertson himself reading ‘Dr Wha’. The doctors include Dr Lesley Morrison, one of the editors of our anthology for newly qualified medical students, Tools of the Trade, and a real-life superhero.

The film will be available to watch from XXXXX onwards.

Talking of heroes – in addition to letting us use his poem and appearing on the film (and recording the poem for the SPL website), James Robertson has also changed the last line of the poem to reflect developments on the television show. Whereas the last line of the poem originally read ‘Wha’s Doctor Wha?  Wha better kens nor he?’, it now reads
Wha’s Doctor Wha?  Wha better kens nor s^he?

Many thanks to the National Library of Scotland for producing and editing the short film.

Remember, there are five other poems chosen to represent National Poetry Day’s theme of ‘change’, all of which have been turned into poem-postcards which can be picked up for free from the SPL and other libraries. Click here to find out more.

What better way to mark the return of Doctor Who than getting hold of a copy of the ‘Dr Wha’ poem-postcard. If you do get hold of one, let us know by taking a photo of wherever you’ve blu-tacked your copy and sharing it on twitter using the hashtags #poetryforachange and #nationalpoetryday.

Also – we’re holding a National Poetry Day celebration on, headlined by Forward Poetry Prize-winner Vahni Capildeo with Iain Morrison supporting. Not only is it a FREE EVENT (get your tickets here), but we’ll also be reading a short set of Doctor Who-themed poems. How can you resist? Set the time-space co-ordinates of your TARDIS for 7pm at the SPL on Thursday, October 4!!!

Category: National Poetry Day