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Words Worth – Poets for Haiti Monday, 1 March 2010

Posted by carryapoem in Events, Poets.
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Many thanks to all those who came along to the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh last night and made our Poets for Haiti night a very special one indeed. We have raised thousands of pounds for an excellent cause (we’re still counting exactly how much), and completed the month-long Carry a Poem campaign in style.

Led by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, 19 of the UK’s finest poets took to the stage to read an array of poignent, political and simply entertaining verse, supported by an appreciative crowd.

More about the night to follow…

Poetry Pocketcards – In Detail Monday, 22 February 2010

Posted by edincityoflit in Behind the Scenes, Poets.
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The 20 different poetry pocketcards we produced have proved very popular – we set 50,000 of them free across town so people could instantly begin to Carry a Poem, if they didn’t already. Which is your favourite?

Carol Ann Duffy is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and in May 2009 was appointed Poet Laureate – both the first woman and the first Scot to hold the post.  She has won a series of major awards, including the T S Eliot prize for Rapture, the Whitbread Poetry Award for Mean Time and a Scottish Arts Council Award for Standing Female Nude.

Primarily a poet, Diana also writes short stories and is the author of many children’s books. She’s worked as a journalist, English teacher and a tutor at the University of Bristol, University of the West of England and the Open University. She has tutored many creative writing courses for the Arvon Foundation and for a year was writer-in-residence at Dumfries & Galloway Royal Infirmary. She is a member of Shore Poets, and is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow based at Edinburgh University. She writes the occasional book review for The Spectator.

As a poet, Alan Spence has made zestful use of haiku in Glasgow Zen, Seasons of the Heart and Clear Light. He uses the haiku form to explore the essential paradox of life, discovering timelessness in cycles of changes, immanence in the finite, simplicity in the intricate. He has received many awards for his writing. Alan Spence is based in Edinburgh where he and his wife run the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre, and he is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen, where he is also artistic director of the annual WORD Festival.  His new book, coming out in May, is called Morning Glory. It’s a collection of haiku and tanka, with illustrations by Elizabeth Blackadder, and it’s published by Renaissance Press.Alec is an artist, poet & publisher. Born in Scotland in 1966, he now lives in the North-East of England, in Byker (Newcastle upon Tyne). He is currently artist in residence at NaREC the New and Renewable Energy Centre (Blyth), and working on commissions for Milton Keynes Gallery, Kielder Partnership and Bluecoat Gallery (Liverpool). He has worked on collaborative poetry and art projects with children, including WORDWOOD, Mesostic Laboratorium, Mesostic Curriculum and nine colours.

Susie Maguire is a former actor, comedy performer and TV presenter, who now writes fiction. She is deviser and editor of Little Black Dress, an anthology of short stories by women on the theme of the ubiquitous and iconic frock, published March 2006. Her own stories are published in two collections: Furthermore and The Short Hello. Her poetry collection How To Hug is available from Mariscat Press or via www.scottish-pamphlet-poetry.com.

Susie Maguire and Edinburgh author Vivian French have together created poetry pin badges, available from The Edinburgh Bookshop or by direct request.Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She has published five collections of poetry for adults, all published by Bloodaxe – The Adoption Papers (winner of a Forward Prize, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book Award), Other Lovers (which won the Somerset Maugham Award), Off Colour, shortlisted for the 1999 TS Eliot Award, Life Mask (2005) and Darling: New and Selected Poems (2007). Her first novel, Trumpet (Picador, 1998), won the Guardian Fiction Prize, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and The Authors’ Club First Novel Award. She has written for the stage and television and worked with composer Mark Anthony Turnage.

Douglas Dunn was born in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, in 1942. In 1991 he was appointed Professor in the School of English at the University of St Andrews. He has won a Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and has twice been awarded prizes by the Scottish Arts Council. In 1981 he was awarded the Hawthornden Prize for St Kilda’s Parliament. In 1986 he was overall winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for his collection Elegies.

Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh is a Gaelic poet based in Scotland.

John Hegley was born in 1953 in Newington Green, and moved to Luton at an early age. He has worked with two children’s theatre groups, ‘Interaction’ and ‘Soapbox’, and began his highly successful career at the notoriously tough comedy store in 1980. His first notable media exposure was the John Peel sessions (Radio One), with songs about spectacles and the misery of human existence. In 2000, John received an honorary Arts Doctorate from Luton University and had his most notable live engagement in a women’s prison, Medellin, Columbia. John’s latest collections are The Sound of Paint Drying (Methuen 2003), Uncut Confetti (Methuen 2006) and The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet (Donut Press 2009).

Jenny Joseph was born in Birmingham, and studied English literature at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, before becoming a journalist. She was awarded the 1986 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for her fiction work Persepone, and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Her best known poem, Warning, was written in 1961 and included in her 1974 collection Rose In the Afternoon and the The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse.

Read on – more poets and pocketcards >>>

Kyle, Robbie, Nicola, and Anna’s Stories Sunday, 14 February 2010

Posted by carryapoem in Schools blog, Stories.
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Kyle carries a poem by Emily Dickinson, liking the line “I’ll let my head be just in sight.”

Robbie carries the anonymous poem “Don’t Quit” because “it’s good and it makes sense.”

You can read the full text of “Don’t Quit” here.

Nicola carries the poem “Valentine” by Carol Ann Duffy.  Nicola’s favourite line is

“I give you an onion.

Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips forever.”

Anna carries the poem “This is just to say” by William Carlos Williams.  She likes the stanza: “I have eaten the plums / that were in the ice box.”  Anna writes, “I like this … a lot!  I had plums for breakfast!”

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Poets For Haiti Event Thursday, 11 February 2010

Posted by edincityoflit in Events, Poetry in Edinburgh.
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The Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, is to lead a once-in-a lifetime line-up of award winning Scottish and UK poets in Edinburgh to raise funds for the Haiti earthquake disaster appeal.   The event will take place on Sun 28 Feb at 6pm in the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh.

Carol Ann Duffy said “Poetry has the power of prayer and is the place in language where we are most human. The people of Haiti need our humanity right now.”

20 of the foremost poets in the land are coming together for an unforgettable evening of the finest poetry for the most urgent of causes.  The event was inspired by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and Dundonian Don Paterson, who next month will receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.  Poets reading on the night include such major literary figures as Alasdair Gray, Douglas Dunn, Jackie Kay, Kathleen Jamie and Sean O’Brien (the only writer to take the UK’s top two poetry awards – the Forward Prize and T S Eliot Prize – in the same year); as well as four UK poets laureate – Liz Lochhead (Glasgow), Ron Butlin (Edinburgh), Gillian Clarke (Wales) and Carol Ann Duffy.

Don Paterson said: “We’ve been completely overwhelmed with the speed and generosity of our colleagues’ response – it should all add up to the most spectacular poetry event ever seen north of the border, and we hope as many people as possible will come along and show their support.”

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has given his full support to the event, describing Carol Ann Duffy as a “visionary humanitarian” and saying ”she has summoned together an amazing array of talent on one day in the service of one hope; a better future for the people of Haiti.”


The event will take place at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh on Sunday 28th February 2010 6.00pm – 8.00pm.  Tickets are £15 or £10 and available from the Queens Hall Box Office on http://www.thequeenshall.net or 0131 668 2019.  All participants have generously given their time in order that the proceeds from ticket sales and donations can be passed onto Mercy Corps for the Haiti Earthquake Emergency Appeal.


Ron Butlin                Gillian Clarke            Robert Crawford
Imtiaz Dharkar             Carol Ann Duffy          Douglas Dunn
John Glenday            Rody Gorman             Alasdair Gray
Andrew Greig            WN Herbert             Jackie Kay
Kathleen Jamie             Frances Leviston         Liz Lochhead
Aonghas Macneacail         Sean O’Brien             Don Paterson

STELLA’S STORY: BLUE NIGHT Thursday, 28 January 2010

Posted by edincityoflit in Stories.
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I have different poems to suit different occasions. Poems, fragments, even lines of poems I keep in my books, notice-board, notebook, iPod, in my heart and head. And I keep renewing them, thanks to the wonderful output of our poets. Last Christmas, I loved Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’; last year, for rainy days, I carried Don Paterson’s ‘Rain’; the last few years, Mary Oliver’s ‘Wild Geese’, hearing their ‘harsh and exciting’ cries as a wake up call to the world. For decades, I pondered over Giorgos Seferis’ ‘In the Manner of G.S.’. So many others…
Whenever I need reminding of my place in nature, in the order of things, whenever my expectations become too great, I reach for Sean O’Brien’s ‘Blue Night’. Downloaded from the Guardian, it lights up my computer screen. Therefore. Therefore, I become small, or tall. I draw strength and inspiration. Thank you Sean O’Brien.

from Blue Night by Sean O’Brien
They have no time for pity or belief,
The heavens, in their triumph of technique.

Stella Pierides writes prose and poetry.  Her forthcoming novel Alexandrias 40: In the Shade of the Lemon Tree is due out later on this year.