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The Thursday Post: Poem of the Moments

Last month, we launched our online anthology Best Scottish Poems 2016. Each spring, since 2005, the SPL has published an edition of BSP, which collected the previous year's 'best' poems by a Scot or a poet resident in Scotland, as chosen by a guest editor. In previous years, editors have included Janice Galloway, Alan Spence and Jen Hadfield. This year, we were delighted that Catherine Lockerbie agreed to read a year's worth of Scottish poetry. Lockerbie is the former Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and one of the country's foremost advocates for the pleasure of reading.

One of the ways in which we pay Best Scottish Poems the honour it's due is by featuring each one of the 20 poems chosen on our homepage as a Poem of the Moment. For the course of a month, each day we change the Poem of the Moment, and this year was no exception. Our blog this week, then, collects all 20 of the homepages we've worked though over April and May, with links to each of the poems below, starting with - above - Andy Jackson's poem about the SPL itself, 'Enquiry Desk'.

'Aig Cladh Hallain' by Angus Peter Campbell is, according to Lockerbie, 'the deceased who are still with us – holding our hands, as Jackie Kay has so touchingly written elsewhere.'

'We used to think the universe was made...' by J.O. Morgan 'again shows poetry and science feeding each other, the endlessly questing human mind.'

'Reprieve' by Alison Prince 'considers the fragile border between life and death with elegance, restraint and acceptance.'

'In the Mid-Midwinter' by Liz Lochhead is a 'celebration of midwinter, finding hope and optimism, bringing light to the darkest day.'

'Breenge' by Stuart A. Paterson 'takes us on a bus journey through a landscape rendered anew by the words used to describe it, a brave rallying call to linguistic action.'

'Catalogue of my grandmother's sayings' by Claire Askew 'may at first look easy, an alphabetical  litany of sayings, but has such an ear and rhythm.'

'For Refuge' by Pippa Little is 'beautifully expressed poem about the utter loneliness of a child refugee [and] a timely  reminder of fragile humanity lost and endangered.'

'This Is It' by William Letford is 'perfectly pitched and full of hope in the midst of pie-eating desperation and memories of home – "bit singin, wee man, yur singin". Which is what we all need to do, in whatever way we can.'

'Anthem' by James Aitchison is 'a beautiful credo of the small resonant beauties of the natural world. A deeply consoling piece.'

'Physics for the unwary student' by Pippa Goldschmidt is 'a lovely, witty contemporary example of the genre. What, indeed, does happen if we stop believing?'

'People Made Glasgow' by Kate Tough is 'an angry narrative, brimming with contempt for marketing and swaggering stereotypes, laying bare the dark history which Glasgow prefers to forget in its desire to portray a gallus and egalitarian image.'

'A Poem Before Breakfast' by Em Strang 'powerfully and peculiarly evokes the natural world, melding and metamorphosing with the human world.'

'Don't Hesitate to Ask' by Michel Faber is 'about the hideous terminal cancer his beloved wife had to endure.... The sheer linguistic violence of pain and grief shatters the heart – as so it should.'

'Outwith' by Katie Ailes 'is a captivating, fond, witty  piece about the absorption and use of language and accent and becoming part of a culture.'

'What Is It Like To Be A Herring Gull?' by Samuel Tongue presents 'a new voice to me, powerful, muscular, biblical, lyrical. I couldn’t be more delighted to have found it.'

'The Narcissist & the Light Stasher' by Jenni Fagan is 'intensely enigmatic, troubling and oddly hopeful, sent shivers down this reader’s spine.'

'Full Stretch' by Tom Pow is 'a vivid, poignant, moving inhabiting of an ageing cat and a fine meditation on the role of memory and passing years on different mortals, wonderfully rendered in an entirely believable cat-speak.'

'The Conversion of Sheep' by Hugh McMillan, a 'vision of a mad prophet attempting to convert a flock of long-suffering, existentialist, bookclub-devotee sheep is just an utter delight.'

Finally, 'What Not to Write on the Back Jacket of Your Debut Collection' by Helena Nelson 'is defiant, funny and bubble-bursting from the title onwards. This particular wry and droll list of desperate pleas (“Please buy this book") to the potential reader is perfect.'

Category: poems, Scottish Poetry Library