TS Eliot Prize poetry readings on tour – 30th Sept at the Mitchell

The T S Eliot Prize for Poetry 20th anniversary tour will visit Glasgow on 30th September.                                                         Eliot prize tour logo sml.JPG

For the first time ever, the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry is going on tour! Every year readings take place at the Festival Hall in London before the winner of the prize is announced. This year is the 20th anniversary of the prize and the Mitchell is delighted to be part of the national tour, with a brilliant lineup of poets:  Don Paterson, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Crawford have all previously won or been shortlisted for the prize and will be joined by new poet William Letford to read their work. The TS Eliot Prize is one of the world’s top poetry awards and was set up by the Poetry Book Society in 1993 in memory of its founding poet.

30 September, Mitchell Library 6-7.30pm, £5. Booking details on the Aye Write! website.

In association with Aye Write! Glasgow’s Book Festival and the Scottish Poetry Library           SPL colour logo for pc sml.JPG



Friday blog June 21 – Gifted revisited

Were you lucky enough to see the fantastic paper sculptures in the Mitchell earlier this year? The Scottish Poetry Library website has a portal of information about the tour, image gallery and current whereabouts of the book sculptures.

If you didn’t catch the sculptures on tour, you could go and see them back home in Edinburgh – the website has a handy walking tour map showing the loaction of all the pieces. Or enjoy the sculptures from the comfort of home by watching a short film of each of the works – again you’ll find these on the Scottish Poetry Library website. What could be more relaxing?

Scottish Poetry Library Logo

Friday Blog Jan 25 – poetry for book groups

It’s Burns Day – so today’s topic is poetry. Has your book group ever dabbled in poetry? There are resources out there to give you ideas. The Poetry Book Society has book group downloads of the ten poets shortlisted for the 2012 TS Eliot Poetry Prize. There are copyright cleared poems with discussion points and a bit of background on the poets. The winner of the prize was announced last week: American poet Sharon Olds for Stag’s Leap – a collection about the end of her marriage. Here’s how the BBC reported Sharon’s win. And for a bit of variety – the Daily Mail!

The Mitchell Poetry Group will be discussing Sharon’s poems at the next meeting – 7th February, 6pm on level 5. Come along if you’re free. Or check out the downloads for your own group.

And remember you can always find ideas at the Scottish Poetry Library Scottish Poetry Library Logo.

Friday Blog Nov 23 – On the road with Gifted

Please welcome Abby Cunnane of the Scottish Poetry Library. If you weren’t one of the thousands lucky enough to see Gifted at the Mitchell, you have until 8th December

to catch it at the Scottish Poetry Library where it opens tomorrow. 

Image: the Gifted exhibition at the Mitchell Library

It’s not the conventional idea of a road trip—travelling between five libraries and a book festival in a sturdy white transit van, ten fragile sculptures made of paper in their boxes carefully packed in the back. Between August and December the Gifted exhibition would visit six venues, involving 12 installations and pack-downs, any number of events and workshops, and miles and miles of winding Scottish roads. Sitting in the front of the van, I experienced every bump in the road on behalf of those beautifully and terrifyingly delicate paper sculptures, and felt a profound relief after every unpacking and set up…before doing it all over again.

The boxed sculptures in the van were accompanied by their ten hefty display plinths, by exhibition banners, books and print material, and other boxes containing various tool kits, paint for plinth touch-ups, handling gloves, spirit levels, and all the hundreds of other miniscule things you need to take an exhibition on the road. A conservator came too, checking the light levels and conditions at each venue were the best possible for their preservation. An entourage: it was hard not to see the quiet, anonymously gifted sculptures as tiny paper rock stars on tour.

First stop was Aberdeen Central Library. As we set up, staff from the library began to come in twos and threes to look, and it was clear the sculptures’ greatest fans were going to be some of the librarians who dedicatedly looked after them during each stop. Picking up the exhibition at the end of that first showing, I was amused to find the clear plinth tops marked where people had evidently pressed their noses to the Perspex  surface to get as close as possible.

Dundee Central Library was a different set up; here the works were dispersed amongst the shelves in the lending area, so that you might round a corner and come upon the T-Rex, bursting from the covers of Arthur Conan-Doyle’s The Lost World, or the Central Library’s Magnifying Glass sculpture while searching for detective fiction.

Wigtown Book Festival received the sculptures with characteristic exuberance. The Badge for a Poem event run by Peggy Hughes of Edinburgh UNESCO City Of Literature and myself involved many festival goers, each of whom shared a poem celebrating ‘books, words, libraries or ideas’ in exchange for a Gifted badge.

Glasgow’s Mitchell Library, where the exhibition was opened by Liz Lochead, saw crowds streaming. By now we were well practised at setting the exhibition up swiftly and fairly smoothly, but taking it down had become the hard part—people were still looking around the works as we arrived to pack them up, and the librarians said slightly wistfully they thought they would come and see it at the next venue too, having grown strangely attached to the miniature paper works.

Now nearing the final leg of the tour, I look back on this road trip and see the series of exhibitions as chapters in the story of the Gifted book sculptures. The works have been the central characters in a story involving countless others, each visitor representing their support for what libraries and publically accessible cultural institutions do. They’ve shown us again and again the power of a good story (and good looks!), and the impact of a small-scale gesture of huge generosity.

Abby Cunnane, Gifted project manager

Saturday November 24 until Saturday 8 December
Scottish Poetry Library

Poetry for book groups

2012 T S Eliot Prize Reading Groups launched

A reading group scheme based on the T S Eliot Prize, the UK’s top poetry award, was launched this week to coincide with the announcement of the ten-strong shortlist on 23 October. Three poems from each of the shortlisted poetry collections, together with reading group notes, ideas for discussion, a biography and photo of each poet are available to download from the Poetry Book Society’s website. There’s also an article on Setting Up a Poetry Reading Group and Who’s Afraid of T S Eliot? – some light-hearted suggestions on how to overcome your fear of poetry.

 Reading group discounts are available and readers can sign up for a weekly email which will cover the ten poets in turn and keep them up-to-date with news on the Prize. There is also an opportunity to enter a prize draw for tickets to the T S Eliot Prize Readings in January 2012. Find out how your reading group can take part at http://www.poetrybooks.co.uk/projects/13/


Liz Lochhead to open Mitchell exhibition

Readers of the blog will know that the Mitchell will soon be hosting the beautiful Gifted poetry sculptures – we’ve just heard that Scots Makar Liz Lochhead is coming to open the exhibition on Tuesday 9th, 6pm, along with Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library. All welcome – Moir Room at Granville Street.

And Robyn will be back the following day to do a guided tour of the exhibition. Wednesday 10th October, also at 6 o’clock. Meet in the foyer.

See you there!