It’s July and that can mean one thing only – the new issue of our bi-annual newsletter the Poetry Reader is available to pick up from the Scottish Poetry Library. We are preparing to mail out copies to members of our Friends scheme. Readers will discover many things in the latest issue. You will learn what the new Poet Laureate’s favourite poems are (nothing from Caledonia, alas). We’ll explain the problem with translating English-language poems into Hungarian. And you’ll read how the late Les Murray almost killed Robert Crawford.
Our cover star this issue is Simon Armitage, whose appointment to Poet Laureate we celebrate. Our Director Asif Khan speaks about the part the Library played on the advisory panel that recommended Armitage for the post. And we recall the night in 2007 Armitage came to the Library to share his favourite poems.
We’re honoured that Robert Crawford writes about his friend Les Murray, whose death in April saddened us greatly. Crawford recalls Murray’s Scottish ancestry and links. ‘Les was one of the very few people I’ve met to whom the word ‘genius’ could be applied.’ He also recalls how Murray’s notoriously bad diving almost killed them. ‘That was our death coming towards us, Rob.’ We’re grateful too to Carcanet for allowing us to print a poem by Murray on the front page.
We’re delighted that this issue features the Poetry Reader’s first Gaelic-language article, a piece by Robbie MacLeod, a PhD student in Celtic and Gaelic Studies who has been working on expanding the Library’s offer to Gaelic-language speakers.
Elsewhere in the Poetry Reader, Joy Hendry discusses making the transition from magazine editor to poet, Hungarian poet Monika Ferencz talks about translating Scottish poets, we get to know Imtiaz Dharker, and we reveal our plans for National Poetry Day (it involves piñatas!).
The Poetry Reader also lists several projects we’re working on that reveals the broad range of the Library’s work:
- Words for Wellbeing is a form of ‘bibliotherapy’ that will see the Library partner with the Scottish government, libraries and health and social care bodies to provide an arts-based alternative to prescribing drugs.
- Nell Widger describes some of the more unusual items in the Library’s archives ahead of a new exhibition.
- We reveal our programme of Fringe events that will run across August (important note: the Library will be open as usual during the day during the Fringe; the events are held at night).
- Changes made to the shop drastically expands the range of books we can offer – find out how.
- We’re marking The International Year of Indigenous Languages by working with Irish, Welsh and Basque Country poets and politicians on several special projects.
Remember: if you join the Library’s Friend scheme, you can get, among other items, the Poetry Reader posted to you. For £25 per year, you also get a ten percent shop discount and the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting one of Scotland’s unique literary institutions. You can help us bring poetry to greater numbers of people over a wider spread of the country by becoming a Friend. Find out how to become a Friend here.
Of course, you can also pick up a copy of the Poetry Reader for free within the Library while stocks, as they say, last.