Scottish Poetry News – January 2019

Book groups, poetry slams and an exciting project bringing literature to the streets of Edinburgh all feature in our first spoken word round-up of 2019

Feature by Beth Cochrane | 08 Jan 2019
  • Message from the Skies

Another year, another Scottish Slam Championship arrives on our January doorstep. Taking place on 13 January at 2pm in Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, the line-up consists of 2018’s poetry slam winners from across, mainly, Scotland’s central belt. It’s a real shame, too, that it appears only 13 slams have been held across the country for poets to qualify this year. How do we fix this and, more broadly, how do we open slams up to a wider audience? The poetry scene in Scotland is thriving and making incredibly positive steps towards inclusivity, so why are slams not reflecting this yet? Regardless, the quality of the poets is – as always – of the highest standard, and this should be an excellent afternoon of poetic entertainment. Good luck to all 13 of you, and may the best poet win. Tickets are available via the Tron website priced at £8.50.

Poets Stewart Sanderson and Samuel Tongue will be launching their new pamphlets with independent Aberdeenshire press, Tapsalteerie. Sanderson’s An Offering and Tongue’s Stitch are already available to buy via the Tapsalteerie website or from the poets themselves. The double launch will take place at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh on 18 January, 7pm; the event is free, and both poets will be reading from their new works.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read more poetry (which, of course, it should be), then check out the Glasgow Poetry Book Group. The group meets every two months to discuss contemporary poetry and is run by Vicki Husband and Mark Russell. This month the group will meet in the bar of the CCA on 30 January at 7pm and will be discussing Us by Birmingham-bred, Yorkshire-residing poet Zaffar Kunial. No specialist knowledge is needed to attend the group, just an enthusiasm for reading and discussing contemporary poetry. You can get in touch with the group beforehand by contacting them at

In a multimedia mix of words, music and design, Message from the Skies returns to Edinburgh with six love letters, each addressed to Europe, projecting across some of the city’s best loved buildings. The letters will be penned by six prominent writers: The Guardian columnist and author Chitra Ramaswamy, Saltire Award-winner Kapka Kassabova, short story and novel writer Louise Welsh, playwright Stef Smith, historical writer William Dalrymple, and poet Billy Letford. The projections will be shown on the walls of Custom House in Leith, the National Scottish Monument on Calton Hill, TechCube at Summerhall, The Bongo Club in Cowgate, Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile and Leith Library on Ferry Road. The project will run until 25 Jan, and – deep breath – is presented by Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, produced by Underbelly in partnership with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and developed with support from Creative Scotland through the Scottish Governments Festivals Expo Fund.

For more events and launches in and around Scotland, keep an eye on the Poetry & Spoken Word in Scotland Facebook group. The page is a fantastic source of poetry news and a great place to hear about local events and catch up with other poets’ successes. Andrew Blair, Writing Communities co-ordinator at the Scottish Book Trust, began a thread in early November which sought to collate Scotland’s many open mic nights; there is plenty of in-date information there about open mic opportunities from all across the country, including details on how to get involved in your local scene.