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Olympics, carry a poem style… Monday, 22 February 2010

Posted by carryapoem in Events.

On Saturday, we donned our tracksuits and got sporty for poetry down at the Historic Scotland Education Centre at Holyrood Park. Not a common alliance, you might think, poetry and sports. But as part of our Carry a Poem Campaign, we wanted to show that poetry’s for everyone for always, including those that feel more comfortable on a football pitch or running track, by indulging in a series of unexpected events.

We can’t remember whether the idea first came from the City of Literature’s Ali, or the SPL’s me (Peggy) but it always took the shape in our minds as a retro sports fun for all the family day, in which poems played a large part. Thus evolved our relay race (with poem baton), welly toss (with customised poem-adorned welly), fastest poet (in which the athletes each represented a poet. Why shouldn’t our poets be lauded on the back of shirts, as footballers are? Sorley MacLean, if you care to know, was the Usain Bolt of the day), egg and spoon and sack race. Master of ceremonies Ewan MacIntosh made sure the athletes warmed up appropriately – much arm-swinging, many star jumps – and that energy levels were suitably sustained by chocolate mallows and Party Rings. In between races, Kate’s face painting proved popular, and what with such unseasonally beautiful, sunny weather, many families hung out for most of the day.

We ended with a chance for the adults to get in on the running action, followed by an epic poetry play-off, in which our littlest sportsman of the day scored a penalty and victory for his team. We bade our Olympians goodbye with a prize-ceremony in which chocolate gold coins took the place of medals and a Carry a Poem book. Everyone a winner. You can see our snaps of the day here, by the indefatigable Chris Scott.

With thanks to Historic Scotland, Ewan, Kitty and Kate, and Ailsa for all their help.


1. Happenings 29: a teaser « Our sweet old etcetera… - Friday, 26 February 2010

[…] pub quiz, Mr John Hegley, poems projected, and poems explored, poems in gardens and crafty poems, Poetry Olympics: plenty poems carried every place, all in honour of the city-wide Carry a Poem […]

2. carryapoem - Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Oh, thanks for writing in, Carrie. Delighted you and your kids enjoyed it. We did too!

3. Carrie Todd - Tuesday, 23 February 2010


thank you so much for this event. My kids and I loved it. It is fantastic to see that, despite the time of year, Scotland’s weather and the litigation-loaded society we now live in, people are prepared to take a risk on outdoor events.I wish there were more of them. (The Botanical Gardens are good for these too and Lauriston Castle if anyone is interested)

There are not enough free-for-all type sporting events and I liked the fact that the kids were free to join in when they liked and the non-preachy approach of the facilitators. You all made a great team. I do hope that you can do this kind of event at next year’s City of Literature.

I would just suggest that you could ask the children to find rhymes or do other little literary games/exercises as the poetry input was lost on my little one.

However, he is more interested in a poetry book at home so there may have been apowerful subliminal message there…

We began making up a rhyme on the way home so if any other participants want to add to it, please feel free to.

I was Jackie Kay,

For a day,

At the Poetry Olympics.

I won the sack race,

My sister had a painted face,

At the Poetry Olympics.

Tossed a welly, that was fun.

Raced in relays for everyone.

Even mummy got to run,

At the Poetry Olympics.

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