Since lockdown necessarily halted our plans for physically engaging with audiences and writing communities beyond Edinburgh, the SPL chose to expand its reach digitally, whilst at the same time opening up our online platforms for new commissions. We have done this through asking four guest curators to select works by poets that they would like to share.
The guest curators – Ceitidh Campbell, Hugh McMillan, Aoife Lyall and Thomas Clark – were tasked with commissioning five poets each to produce a collection of 20 new works in total. The overarching theme is ‘vision’ – the topic of this year’s National Poetry Day in October.
Crucially, the choices made by the curators were made entirely independently without a steer from the SPL. Each curator was made aware of our commitment to equalities and inclusion and we also encouraged them to commission work that included video or audio, as we seek to grow online resources that can be accessed at home, in the classroom or on the move. As we approach National Poetry Day on 1 October, the poems will be presented daily on rotation by curator.
Ceitidh selected poets predominantly writing in Scottish Gaelic and Thomas selected writers writing in Scots. Aoife is based in Inverness, as is Ceitidh, Hugh in Dumfriesshire and Thomas in Hawick. Their inclusion recognises that there is a rich pool of talent across Scotland. If this pilot programme proves successful, we will make available opportunities for expressions of interest for the guest curator roles, particularly for poets living beyond the Central Belt. We will also continue our support for new works in Scottish Gaelic and Scots language. Next year’s theme will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Walter Scott.