This series of six public seminars, to be held at the Scottish Poetry Library during 2015-16, will explore the most exciting and topical areas of debate around the relationship between poetry, culture and politics in twentieth-century and contemporary Scotland, casting a fresh eye on the lives and work of the country’s most important modern poets. Seizing on unprecedented, post-referendum interest in questions of national cultural identity, a range of established and emerging researchers and poets will reflect on the unique role of makars and bairds in shaping the country’s cultural and political landscape during an age when, globally speaking, poetry’s cultural and political role has been in decline.
• To extend the Scottish Poetry Library’s public and civic role by presenting it as the location for cutting-edge academic discussion around modern poetry, culture and politics, and for introducing such discussion to public audiences in an inclusive, engaging context.
• To strengthen lines of communication and the tradition of collaboration between the Scottish Poetry Library and academic communities within Edinburgh, especially the University of Edinburgh, with a view to establishing further collaborative events and, again, to widening the Library’s public and civic remit.
• Based on the above two aims, to strengthen and develop the terms of the Library’s future funding applications to public bodies; identified as key aim by Library Programme Manager Jennifer Williams in conception of project.
• To foster creative collaboration between poets and academics, and to build capacity in the academic community by presenting PhD and early career researchers and young poets with the opportunity to present, speak or chair alongside established academics and performers.
Responses from co-organisers and speakers suggest that the project succeeded in extending the Scottish Poetry Library’s audience base and attracting new audiences, bringing together poets and academics in an inclusive and interactive context. Responses also suggest that the project succeeded in strengthening lines of communication and collaborative ties between the Library and the University (resulting in at least one future University event being held at the Library); in strengthening and developing the terms of the Library’s future funding applications; and in fostering creative collaboration between poets and academics, and between early career and established researchers.