In 2018, the Scottish Poetry Library and Open Book are running a flagship residency project in Wester Hailes in partnership with WHALE Arts. This pilot project has emerged from WHALE’s Creative Connected Community Project supported by the Big Lottery which has a focus on creative place making in Wester Hailes. The Creative Connected project aims to engage the different neighbourhoods that make up Wester Hailes in creative activities and workshops, commission public artworks made with and for the community and coordinate community wide events around the 50th anniversary of Wester Hailes in 2019.
The partnership with SPL and Open Book is an excellent opportunity for the community of Wester Hailes to participate in poetry and creative writing activities and explore their environment and place through writing. The project builds on a legacy of poetry written in and about Wester Hailes by poets such as Colin Bartie and local resident Eoghan Howard.
The residency will include taster sessions with local community groups and partners; creative Writing Blocks at the local library and Healthy Living Centre; and monthly poetry groups at WHALE Arts.
Helena Barrett, Creative Placemaker at WHALE Arts, says:
‘The Scottish Poetry Library residency is a fantastic opportunity for WHALE Arts and the community of Wester Hailes. The residency coincides with the launch of WHALE’s new creative place-making project called "Creative Connected Community" which will run creative outreach activities, co-ordinate annual community-wide events and commission public artworks in the seven neighbourhoods of Wester Hailes.
‘Wester Hailes has a rich history of poets and creative writing, most notably in the work of Colin Bartie, the Wester Hailes baird, whose poetry explored identities and representation of communities on the outskirts of the city such as Wester Hailes, Muirhouse and Craigmillar. The residency will give local people from all backgrounds the opportunity to build on this legacy and explore poetry and creative writing as both a tool to improve health and wellbeing and explore their relationship to their environment and community. By a mixture of taster sessions with local groups and services, block workshops at the library and monthly meet ups at WHALE we hope to inspire the community to realise the power of poetry and get writing.’