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Poetry Pocketcards – In Detail Monday, 22 February 2010

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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 >>>

Carry a Poem – Press Launch Monday, 15 February 2010

Posted by carryapoem in Behind the Scenes, Events, Stories.
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Carry a Poem is in full swing, and most of the books have flown out of libraries, cafes and pubs across town.  The poetry pocketcards have been so popular that we are releasing another batch across town at the end of this week.

You can still get books (while stocks last, at least) at most of our Carry a Poem events, and while you’re there, why not share your story of the poem you carry?  If you aren’t able to make any of the events, then we’ve put together a wee video from the Carry a Poem launch to give you a taste:

Thanks to Amy MacDonald, Lilias Fraser, Catherine Lockerbie and Robin Harper MSP for sharing the poems they carry on camera.

Biography – John Hegley Friday, 4 December 2009

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John Hegley was born in 1953 in Newington Green, and moved to Luton at an early age. After leaving school he worked as a bus conductor and social security clerk, until he went to Bradford University, eking out his grant by working as a nurse in a local mental hospital.

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 audience is huge,’ writes Peter Forbes, ‘because everyone who has ever heard him is captivated by his mastery of timing and gesture and his complete domination of any audience that comes his way.’

Find out more about John Hegley through the Scottish Poetry Library’s Poets A-Z.

Steve’s stories Wednesday, 25 November 2009

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As an English teacher I carry a hundred poems with me. On most days there is a piece of poetry in my head – not in an “Auntie Wordsworth” type of way as John Osborne once put it but in a much more demanding and dynamic way. They are there whether we want them to be or not!  English teachers tend to have their favourites poems that they cosset, dress up and pull out of a drawer to show and I’m no different.

Jack Pretsky’s “The Ghoul” made a group of thirteen year olds actually recoil with horror. (The boys asked me to read it again!) Numerous John Hegley poems have made them laugh and I remember a stunned silence when I read Edwin Morgan’s “Stobhill” to a group of seniors. All these poems and others and the impact of their reading on others is something I carry with me.

On a more prosaic level  there is a line from a poem, by a little known poet called Isaac Ewan, that has been with me since I was a teenager, “Be kind in this cruel world, be kind.” As twee as that might sound I have found that as I’ve got older kindness is a very powerful thing. The fact that he was a stretcher bearer in World War One gives that line a certain poignant resonance for me.

Steve teaches English Literature at Holyrood High School

L’s story: John Hegley’s ‘The PhanTom’ Wednesday, 25 November 2009

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Mine is John Hegley’s ‘PhanTom’. It’s a whimsical little poem but it struck a chord with me. I’d come across it in a newspaper, at a time, many years ago, when I was having to come to terms with the fact I wasn’t ever going to have a child, and it’s been in my purse ever since. Very yellow and fragile now. I don’t really know why I keep it – well, I suppose I do – because I now have a lovely daughter – and I suppose keeping hold of the poem was a keeping hold of the hope.