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Behind the scenes at the Scottish Poetry Library

The Thursday Post: The Poetry Reader

What a lot of fuss about Christmas! I mean, it’s great, sure, but so is our newsletter the Poetry Reader, and a new issue happens twice a year, not once. You also don’t have to buy anyone a present. The Poetry Reader is a present in itself, to yourself. So, you see – the Poetry Reader is better than Christmas.

Which is all preamble to the good, good news that the latest issue of the Poetry Reader is available to pick up from the Library. If you’re a member of our Friends of the SPL scheme, you don’t even have to toddle into the building, you’ll be sent a copy.

So, what’s in the latest issue? Well, our cover story catches up with the Makar or National Poet for Scotland, Jackie Kay, filling in the reader all the projects she’s taken up since her appointment. Find out about Ferlie Leed, her ambitious five-year tour of Scotland; why she wrote a letter to her old high school; how her parents ended up in jail in Dunoon in the early sixties; and what the Smiths have got to do with it.

We’ve added three new features to the Poetry Reader. In My First, My Last, My Everything, we ask Friends of the SPL to talk about their early experiences of poetry (My First), their latest (My Last), and the benefits of being a Friend (My Everything). Many thanks to Gordon Munro, City of Edinburgh councillor, who is the subject of the first MFMLME. ‘I think of the SPL as an embassy for poetry,’ he says, ‘which has given more than it has received.’

Our second new feature is Found in Translation, which presents poems in their original languages and translations, with the translator on hand to explain his or her thoughts. In September 2016, the SPL, in association with the British Council and Edwin Morgan Trust, took three Scottish poets – Stewart Sanderson, Christine De Luca and Jen Hadfield – to Russia as part of celebrations of the UK-Russia Year of Language and Literature 2016 and the global Shakespeare Lives programme commemorating the 400th anniversary of his death. While there, they worked with three local poets – Marina Boroditskaya, Grigorii Kruzhkov and Lev Oborin – on translations of each other’s work. Stewart Sanderson talks us through his translation of Marina Boroditskaya.

‘Though there are certainly many challenges to be negotiated, I have no doubt that poetic translation is a deeply worthwhile response to the multilingual world in which we live – especially when some in positions of power seem increasingly intent on building walls between cultures.’

The final new feature, The Last Post, asks writers to share an opinion that parts company with popular opinion. Scottish Review of Books editor Alan Taylor lays into Sunset Song, that perennial favourite of polls seeking the most popular Scottish novel of all time.‘Recently a friend read Sunset Song and expressed dissatisfaction with the ending, which had left him perplexed. What did I think of it? I said it made me want to clear the contents of my stomach, such is its sappiness.’

There are of course all the usual favourites tucked into the latest issue. You can discover which poetry books were published in the last half of 2016; the Director gives his views; and our Getting To Know… piece profiles Forward Prize-winner Vahni Capildeo (who we recently recorded a podcast with). There are also articles about our shop, hiring the SPL, our Poetry By Heart Scotland competition for high school students and much, much more. So, pop into the SPL and pick up your copy today.

To become a Friend of the SPL and enjoy benefits including the Poetry Reader delivered to your door, call us on 0131 557 2876, email Friends@spl.org.uk or click here.

Category: Scottish Poetry Library