Tag Archives: Edinburgh Fringe

Reading the Streets: Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018

Canongate SPL 4

Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh

I’m presenting poetry walks on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe again this year, after doing so in 2016 and 2017.

Burns Monument

Burns Monument, Regent Road

As in previous years the walks start and end at the Scottish Poetry Library, off the Canongate near the foot of the Royal Mile. This year’s itinerary includes some sites visited in previous years, including the two nearby graveyards (havens of peace amid the roar of the festival!), while adding new locations, including the Burns Monument on Regent Road. I’ll read some poems I’ve read in previous years, while adding new pieces, including Coleridge’s ecstatic letter to Southey describing his visit in 1803.

Canongate Panmure House from Dunbar's Close garden 2

Panmure House seen from Dunbar’s Close garden

I’m grateful to Valerie Gillies and James Robertson for their permission to include poems they have written about the city. (You can read Valerie’s ‘To Edinburgh’ here.) As well as the linking script, I’ve written a new poem about the philosopher and economist Adam Smith, who lived in the area for the last 12 years of his life, and is buried in the Canongate Kirkyard. (Panmure House, where he lived, has just been renovated by Heriot-Watt University.)

rls-two

Stevenson, from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)

This year’s walk has the title Reading the Streets, and has as its focus some of the contrasts Edinburgh keeps throwing up. The Old Town / New Town divide is the most obvious and present one, and we’ll cross from one to the other. But there are many others, including at this time of year City / Festival, Residents / Visitors and Local / International. The poems are written in two languages, English / Scots, and since I  include some extracts from diaries and letters there’s a Poetry / Prose contrast too.

Palace Park Parliament

Palace and Paliament against Arthur’s Seat

The new cheek-by-jowl neighbours Palace / Parliament form a contemporary divide, though they’re on the same side in the Historic Time / Geological Time contrast as they look out onto Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags.

NCBG Stevenson vault 2

Stevenson family vault in the New Calton Burial Ground, Edinburgh

I’m also grateful to the Scottish Poetry Library for including the walks in its Fringe programme. They run from Saturday 4 – Monday 27 August, daily (not Thursdays, Fridays) starting at 11.00, and lasting 90 minutes.

Tickets are available from the Fringe box office, and from the SPL via Eventbrite.

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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

ABC KC Clarinda grave

I’ve just finished three and a half weeks of walks as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016. It was a new experience for me, and an enjoyable one – walking in the city, meeting people on the walks, running into old friends and acquaintances on the High Street while handing out postcards, and getting to know the poems, and the places I’d matched them with, better. And I enjoyed the buzz of checking each morning to see how many tickets I’d sold for that day’s walk.

ABC KC Fergusson statue 2

Highlights? The young couple from Rio, delighted the Olympics had shunted their winter holiday from July to August, which meant they could come to the Edinburgh Festival. Reading the poem ‘Intercession’, written twenty years ago about St Margaret’s Well in Holyrood Park, at the well, to the sound of its water falling. Getting my tongue around 16th century Scots, which turns out to sound less foreign than it looks. And not having to cope with any serious rain; drizzle, yes, but the heavy stuff, when it come, always fell an hour or two before or after the walk.

ABC KC Holyrood 3

Thanks to everyone who came on the walks, all 150 of you. Thanks to Alice and Tamsin for the photographs here. And now I have the next five months to mull over whether I’ll do it all again next August.

TG SPL