Library event marks makar's 'farewell'
Photo © Gunnie
Research at the National Library of Scotland has helped Edinburgh's first official 'makar' create a colourful sequence of poems about possibly the capital's first poet.
Stewart Conn's new collection, entitled 'Ghosts at Cockcrow', features a section specifically about Roull of Corstorphin, one of the poets named in 'Lament for The Makars' by 15th century poet William Dunbar. 'Makar' is an old Scots word for poet, and the reference to Roull sparked the Edinburgh poet laureate's imagination. After consulting the Bannatyne manuscript in the NLS collections, Conn developed a sequence of poems that gives Roull a persona, using the court of James IV as an exciting backdrop.
Humour and music
At an event in the Library on Thursday 5 May, Conn will read these poems and reveal his various sources. Just as the sequence carries a thread of humour, together with more intimate moments, the evening promises to be a lively one. Exuberant multi-instrumentalist John Sampson, clad in period costume, will provide musical punctuation with a 15th and 16th century flavour.
in The Thrie
Given that Corstorphine (to use the modern spelling) is on Edinburgh's western outskirts, Stewart Conn sees this event as a suitable acknowledgement of his three-year tenure as the city's makar, which finishes at the end of May. 'Both John and I are thrilled that it is taking place at the Library,' he says.
Entry is free, but places are limited, so do book in advance: see our Events page page for details.
28 April 2005
Celebrating Ian Hamilton Finlay
Photo © David Paterson
Renowned 'concrete poet' and garden-creator Ian Hamilton Finlay is the subject of an exhibition currently running at the National Library of Scotland.
Open daily until 1 June, 'Ian Hamilton Finlay: of conceits and collaborators' focuses on relationships the poet and artist has had with eminent photographers, printers, illustrators, stonecarvers and the like.
Born in 1925, Finlay was famed initially for his 'concrete poetry', in which the visual layout of words contributes to its overall effect and meaning. He went on to combine this art form with sculpture and garden design.
Little Sparta, his own garden in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, has now become widely recognised as one of Europe's most important contemporary art works.
At a Library event on 21 April entitled 'Ganging up against the void', poet Ken Cockburn looks at Finlay's development in the 1950s and '60s. These decades saw him progress from writing traditional short stories to gaining an international reputation as Britain's foremost concrete poet. Around 300 of his works are held in the National Library's collections.
A former Assistant Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, Ken Cockburn edits poetry collections, gives talks on Ian Hamilton Finlay and has collaborated on publishing projects with Finlay's son, Alec.
6 April 2005