This spring, we have a smorgasbord of poetry events featuring, to name but a few, John Burnside, Vahni Capildeo, Imtiaz Dharker, Denise Riley and Aonghas MacNeacail, tackling subjects like politics, mindfulness and chocolate. Many of the events, we’re pleased to say, are free (check our website for details of which ones).
We kick off the year in partnership with the Fire Starter Festival, with which the Scottish Government celebrates creativity and innovation in public services. To that end, the Library will host a special Nothing but the Poem reading group on Edwin Morgan on Tuesday, 28 January, to mark his centenary later this year (keep watching the SPL’s social media and website for details of how the SPL plans to mark Morgan’s 100th birthday). We shall also host an event called – with reference to John F. Kennedy – When Power Corrupts, a panel discussion featuring John Burnside, Harry Josephine Giles and Samantha Walton, chaired by Henry Bell. The panel will consider questions on the relationship between poetry and power. The event takes place on Wednesday, 12 February.
The Library will host readings by a series of some of the best contemporary poets. In partnership with the Poetry Association of Scotland, we shall be welcoming Imtiaz Dharker on Wednesday, 25 March, Aonghas MacNeacail on Wednesday 29 April, and Vahni Capildeo on Wednesday, 27 May.
Denise Riley headlines a Poetry Book Society Showcase on Friday, 3 April. Rigorous, unsentimental, experimental – Denise Riley is increasingly seen as one of the UK’s best contemporary poets. She’s supported by Juana Adcock and Charlotte Ansell, whose most recent collections were PBS Winter 2019 Choices.
Our events programme takes a funny turn starting in January when we host the first monthly comedy night hosted by the award-winning Men With Coconuts. Slamprov mixes performance poetry and improvised comedy. Poems and stories will be used as inspiration for completely improvised scenes, sketches and songs. Part-slam, part-comedy show, every night will different and unique. Slamprov takes place on Wednesdays on 5 February and 11 March.
We’re also holding several events that dig deep into the imagination of their performers and audience. On Saturday, 25 April, poet Andrés N. Ordorica leads a workshop that asks ‘what kind of a Scotland do we want to live in’ through readings and creative writing. On Friday, 22 May, the Poetry AF gang return with Ferrero & Loathing, a twist on the whodunit featuring poetry and chocolate. And we’ll be hosting artist Guy Begbie as he leads a Book Making workshop on Saturday, 13 June. Fred Freeman returns to the SPL on Thursday, 14 May, to discuss the relationship between ‘proper’ literature and ‘folk’ poetry in a lecture titled Poetry & Sang Gang Thegither.
We’re also delighted to host the drop-in reading group Open Book’s weekly sessions on Wednesday lunchtimes as well as their monthly Saturday morning meetings. The sessions are fun and informal and intended to be enjoyed by both people familiar with the poet or chosen topic beforehand or who have no knowledge at all, but would like to. The timetable for the first half of this year is:
- Open Book’s Saturday Poems: Poetry & Power
Sat, 1 Feb, 11-12.30pm. Free.
- Open Book’s Saturday Poems: Imtiaz Dharker
Sat, 7 Mar, 11-12.30pm. Free.
- Open Book’s Saturday Poems: Denise Riley
Sat, 4 Apr, 11am-12.30pm. Free.
- Open Book’s Saturday Poems: Scots Language
Sat, 2 May, 11-12.30pm. Free.
- Open Book’s Saturday Poems: Edwin Morgan
Sat, 6 June, 11-12.30pm. Free.
We’re delighted to host the launch of Bashabi Fraser’s new book, Critical Lives: Rabindranath Tagore.Tagore was the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Fraser will use her event to explain why Tagore is more relevant than ever (Wednesday, 18 March).
Perhaps, however, you have in mind a performance of your own and have the Fringe in August pegged as your moment to stage your show. If you require an affordable venue in town particularly well suited to poetry and spoken word events, might I suggest the Scottish Poetry Library itself? As of January, we re-opened the page on our website where artists can apply to book a slot on our mezzanine level stage. You can find more details here: https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/festival-programme/.