Tag Archives: poetry

Feminist film-poem puts street harassment under the lens

Photo Above: Hopscotch Poster  © Nadine Aisha

Edinburgh-based poet and activist Nadine Aisha published a film adaptation of her poem ‘Hopscotch’.

The award-winning filmmaker Roxana Vilk directed the film, which talks about street harassment against women-of-colour, for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Continue reading Feminist film-poem puts street harassment under the lens

Top 5 things to do this week

Photo credit: Andrew Hamilton
Photo credit: Andrew Hamilton


I’m sorry to disappoint, but we’re looking at yet another week of freezing weather… Since it always helps to have a reason to leave the house, here’s our top 5 things to do in Edinburgh this week: Continue reading Top 5 things to do this week

New lit mag to hit streets

The University of Edinburgh will release a new publication tomorrow, which gives budding authors, poets and playwrights an platform to publish their work.

As part of the society of the same name, PublishED will be produced semesterly and distributed free around the Edinburgh University George Square campus. Containing prose, poetry, drama and interviews with authors, the magazine aims to provide a way in to the publishing industry for fledgling writers. The first issue, containing interviews with, Australian poet Les Murray and Edinburgh writers Iain Banks and Alexander McCall Smith, will be unveiled tomorrow.

The project started in May this year and Editor-in-Chief Matt Oldfield believes the magazine will be an important tool for young writers: “We started up because we got tired of waiting for other people to start a literary magazine. Since May we have been slowly building up the project, but it took awhile for things to really start moving. Its a publication with the aim of showcasing the best literary work. We also aim to provide a valuable insight and pathway into the publishing industry.”

Interviewed in the first issue: Alexander McCall Smith (Photo by Lärarnas Nyheter)

PublishED also intend to hold events throughout the year to raise both awareness and funds for the magazine, which is entirely self funded. Ahead of its official launch party, at Edinburgh’s Blackwell bookstore tonight, Oldfield said they “have so far raised over £700 through various fundraising events including book sales, bake sales, quiz nights, variety nights and ghost story nights.”

Edinburgh is well known for its rich cultural and literary heritage, and is home to some of the world’s best known writers. Some of its most celebrated poets, including Don PatersonJohn Burnside and Kathleen Jamie, will perform at this year’s Hogmanay celebrations and PublishED hopes to offer luminaries a chance to achieve the same level of success.

The website already contains a collection of local writers’ work, and Edinburgh based poet Rebecca Ross is excited by the prospect of a magazine aimed at young, rather than established, writers: “Poetry and the arts in general is a notoriously difficult industry to get into, so the launch of a magazine which provides a potential pathway is very much welcomed.”

Ross added: “The real challenge for many poets is gaining a reputation. Once you have that, publications will approach you for work. It’s extremely important for publications like this to exist to help get over that first hurdle.”

KT Tunstall to headline new Hogmanay event

by Neal Wallace

Edinburgh is known across the world as the place to be when it comes to new year celebrations.

This year it’s set to become even bigger, with the addition of a “One Day”, a day of celebration to mark the 1/1/11. The event, funded by the Scottish Government’s expo fund, will showcase the best in Scottish talent, with poetry, singing and music in a free, unticketed concert in the afternoon.

Hogmanay organiser Peter Irvine said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government’s Expo Fund has enabled us to pull together one of the strongest line-ups of Scottish writing and musical talent probably ever assembled to play over one afternoon. This roll call of talent demonstrates that the power of the word and the song is alive and well in Scotland.”

Fife-born singer KT Tunstall will headline the event with the “Resolution Concert” at the west Princes St. Gardens. Tunstall herself has handpicked the line-up, which includes Scottish artists Kassidy, King Creosote and Silver Columns. The capacity of the concert is just 3,000, a tiny proportion of the 100,000 revellers expect to descend on the city this new year.

KT Tunstall will headline the "One Day" celebrations. Photo by nni_

A full programme has been announced for “One Day”, to be hosted in the newly name Mound Precinct on Princes Street Gardens. The event will begin with a reading of new year haikus by some of Scotland’s top poets, including Alan Spence and Andrew Greig.

The main stage will then host “Scotland’s Number Ones”, with exclusive performances by Scotland’s 2010 award winning musicians, before Tunstall’s headline show.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop said Hogmanay is a time when Scotland “shines on the world stage”, stating that it generates £29 million for the Scottish economy. She added: “One Day adds a dynamic and innovative edge to our traditional festivities, highlighting the best of contemporary Scottish music, culture and creativity. It will help cement Scotland’s global reputation as a fantastic visitor destination and the best place in the world to see in the bells.”

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations date back to the ancient Anamistic practices of sun and fire worship in the deep mid-winter, which later evolved into the great Roman winter festival of Satumalia.

Thousands of years on, Edinburgh now plays host to one of the world’s biggest parties. The event in its current form was first organised in 1993, after the highly successful “Summit in the City” conference a year earlier.

The 1996/97 street party drew a crowd of 300,000, leading to safety concerns and since then the party has been a ticketed. The capacity is now limited to 100,000, with around 20,000 expected to attend the “One Day” celebrations.

Irvine said he was confident the event would be a success, saying that “it will be One Great Day in Edinburgh to remember.”


Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate

by Kirstyn Smith

Last year, the AQA was moved to withdraw her poem Education for Leisure from the GCSE English exam, due to its supposed insinuations of knife crime.  Her unashamed relationship with fellow writer Jackie Kay was allegedly considered by Tony Blair to be too unconventional for Middle England.  An emotional and forthright poet, Carol Ann Duffy seems to court contention more than most.carol_ann_duffy_150x180

The latest stanza in her eventful comedy of errors allows her to maintain her offbeat characterisation:  Duffy is set to become the first woman Poet Laureate.  For months there has been neck-and-neck competition between Ms Duffy and West Yorkshire poet Simon Armitage, but a report yesterday announced that the UK government have made their final decision.

An official announcement on Thursday will confirm that Duffy will follow in the footsteps of Andrew Motion who held the post for ten years – the only poet thus far not to take on the position for life.  Yesterday Motion praised his likely successor saying:

“I would be profoundly pleased if Carol was to take on the role as I think she would be magnificently good at it.  She’s an absolutely wonderful writer and I think that because no woman has had the role, having Carol would give the whole thing a great glamour and appeal.”

This year a new means of choosing who would fill the post, implemented by Andy Burnham the culture secretary, allowed for the general public to assume a more involved role in the process.  Poetry lovers were invited to vote for their favourites by writing to ministers, while other authors and scholars were also asked for their contributions.

However, the role may not be welcomed with entirely open arms as would ordinarily be assumed.  Ten years ago, before Motion took on the role, Duffy was also a candidate.  Yet, representatives at Downing Street vetoed her from the position, the reason allegedly being that Middle English society were not ready to embrace her openly homosexual lifestyle.  At the time, Duffy was said to be deeply bruised at the rejection, declaring herself “out of the picture” regarding any future considerations for the post.  She later maintained that she would not have taken on the post anyway, angrily stating:

“I will not write a poem for Edward and Sophie.  No self-respecting poet should have to.”

If Duffy was to change her mind about her views of the honour, it would be a turnaround to the fans who recognise her as a fearlessly controversial figure, unafraid to speak her mind.  She hotly defended the removal of Education for Leisure from examinations, claiming it to be conducive to raising awareness of street crime.  The poem contained lines such as:

Today I am going to kill something.  Anything.

I have had enough of being ignored and today

I am going to play God.  It is an ordinary day,

a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets

To counter the seeming overreaction to her poem, Duffy countered the decision to ban it by penning another poem, Mrs Schofield’s GCSE, in which knife-related incidents found in traditional GCSE fare, such as Shakespeare’s plays are highlighted:

Who said

Is this a dagger which I see?  Which tragedy?

Whose blade was drawn which lead to Tybalt’s death?

By proving her point in such a waym she has garnered a number of supporters in her field.  Poet and professor Robert Crawford describes her work as being “lively, lyrical, somewhat provocative, alert to poetry’s capacity even in the 21st century to have a significant public dimension.”