Saturday, 7 November 2015


Those words form the opening line of 'Spiral' by the late Elizabeth Burns.  On Friday I saw the whole poem on a huge canvas 25 metres by 8 metres, masking the redevelopment of the old Sailors' Ark building on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.  What a lovely idea.

Not far away is the Scottish Poetry Library, now re-opened after its recent refurbishment.  I loved the building before and I wondered how successful it would be in its revamped form.  I'm pleased to say it's even better!  It's lighter (even on a grey November day), more spacious and more flexible.  It has more comfy chairs and it's good to see that children haven't been forgotten - there's a children's seating area with soft toys and picture books.

The main borrowing collection used to be housed in a dark cave under the mezzanine.  But extending outwards and new windows has made its shelves much less claustrophobic now.  The current
magazines have been moved downstairs and are more accessible and there's a slimline cafe-bar style table along the window wall with high stools to perch on - fun for browsing poetry mags.

Upstairs there are relaxed seating areas, CDs and a recording space, general books about poetry and the extensive pamphlet collection.  The shelves are moveable and in the summer there's scope to overflow onto the balcony.

But some things stay the same: the care, attention to detail, patience and enthusiasm shown by the library staff, the wonderful collection of books and, of course, W S Graham's colourful battered table.  That writing table still gives off its inspiring poetic vibes!
Lots of photos of the re-opening of the library on Our Sweet Old Etcetera blog, in the post 'Re-open the doors'.

Walk down the Royal Mile to read 'Spiral' by Elizabeth Burns, or see a photograph of the poem in situ at
(search under Sailors Ark and it should take you to the article beginning 'Giant poem').

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