Kin Kennings: 25 words for ’25
A blog by Laura Fyfe, Stirling Makar
How often does a writer get the chance to be involved with something like this? When Scene Stirling asked me how we could represent poetry and literature as part of the Stirling bid for City of Culture 2025, the easiest thing to do would have been to write a poem myself. But I’m only one person. With one perspective. And while there are easily hunners, probably thoosands of things I could say about what I love about my home city and its surrounding areas, I wanted to hear what everyone else loves about it too. And it gave me the chance to stretch my Makar muscles.
One of my jobs as Stirling Makar is to celebrate our city and its people. Another is to support and encourage the voices of Stirling folk – to forge opportunities for everyone to express themselves through poetry.
So I put a call out asking people to distil down their thoughts and feelings about our glorious area – into 25 words for ’25.
Collective poems are a vital, dynamic tool writers and organisations can use to pull people together. National Makar Kathleen Jamie composed a beautiful one recently with the support of the Scottish Poetry Library.
Over a hundred people of all ages and experiences entrusted us with their words. It’s been my responsibility – and my honour – to stitch those together into a poem which I hope does justice to Stirling and Stirling’s people.
I’m so proud that what started as a small conversation back in December, has resulted in poetry being at the very heart of the bid for City of Culture, the only Scottish city on the list. The poem is on the back of the bid document, and is shown in the film at the top of this page.
On 1 February to celebrate submitting our bid, the team projected lines and phrases from the 25 for 25 poem up onto the Wallace Monument! It’s one of the proudest moments in my career as a poet. How am I going to top that!
The project is a testament to what can be achieved when creative minds work together – and in this case, work together for the future of Stirling’s culture – for the benefit of all in our communities.
There’s nothing like poetry for directing awareness towards what’s worth paying attention to. And that’s what the 25 for 25 poem does. This is Stirling. This is what we have been and what we are. And we have the potential and the determination to be even more.
I called the poem Kin Kennings. It’s about family. There are so many pockets of family and community around Stirling, made up of those born here, Sons and Daughters of the Rock, and those who’ve migrated here from around Scotland and the world. We all know different things about what makes this place so special. While Stirling has a history we can get our teeth into, it also has a present we’re proud of – the support we gave each other, across all our communities during lockdown was inspiring. We also have a future we can’t wait to get to grips with. Culture is at the heart of that.
Collecting together everyone’s thoughts and ideas – during a pretty glum winter, after a pretty dreary couple of years – felt like a sunbreak through cloud, like green snowdrop shoots reaching up though frozen earth. These lines were a welcome burst of positivity, of growth and of love. The 25 for ’25 poem shows the deep affection the people of Stirling have for our culture, our environment and our communities. It’s a patchwork quilt of pride, but also hope for the future, the belief in our potential to do so much more – that determination and resilience that so encapsulates the spirit of the people of Stirling.
The 25 for ’25 poem was our chance to create something together, to focus on what we love about this amazing place we live in, and acts now as a funnel through which we’ve channeled our thoughts; a lens through which we’ve focused our ideas; a loudspeaker through which we’ve amplified our voices.
This is the power of poetry.
The finished collective poem and accompanying film are available to view at www.your.stirling.com