We’re here tonight to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Shore Poets, and we’ve recalled some memorable moments from those past twenty years. But you’ll be pleased to hear, I hope, that we haven’t been resting on our laurels, and have also been planning for the future. In fact, we’re able to announce of the programme for our 40th anniversary season when we’ll play host to a fabulous array of poets in a range of wonderful venues.
Our new poet is Robert Burns. Robert’s from Ayrshire, but has made a name for himself throughout the central belt. He’ll be joined by our main poet, William Dunbar, a well-kent face in these parts. Our Shore Poet will be Chris Grieve, this year reading in the persona of Jack Harvey. Music for the evening comes from Mary, Queen of Scots.
We’re planning a very special Valentine’s day event held at the Malt Whisky Society in Leith, with wee nips for all, complemented by some delicious canapes prepared by Tom Kitchin. John Donne will recite (and tell a few love stories) beside a roaring fire. And the Everley Brothers will be singing ‘All I Have To Do (is dream)’. Horse drawn carriages at midnight.
A St Patrick’s Day event with Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Ciaran Carson and the ghost of Patrick Kavanagh, held in a grand OTT venue – we’re hoping for Prestonfield House – where the toilets are good, the sofas sumptuous and they don’t mind how much or how little you drink. A peacock might strut through.
Around a bonfire at the beach at Portobello, brandy and hot chocolate shared from hip flasks, Apollinaire, Ian Hamilton Finlay, and Edwin Morgan will make poetic marks on the sand with sticks.
Harking back to the Shore Poets launch in 1891, Robert Louis Stevenson will read for us in Rutherford’s Bar, and play his whistle between poems.
A long Sunday afternoon at The White Horse Tavern, Greenwich Village, Manhattan: Dylan Thomas will be in conversation with Iain Crichton Smith, and we’ll have music by new barman Rob Zimmerman.
Norman MacCaig will read from his poems and Andrew Greig from At The Loch of the Green Corrie – they, and all of us in the audience, will be camped out on the banks of that loch in Assynt.
Charlotte Square is entirely taken over by poets for a week of assorted festivities funded by the Scottish Parliament, with presiding ghosts, Sorley McLean, Norman MacCaig and Kathleen Raine and plenty of us live poets too.
9.09pm on 9th September at Cairn Holy, Galloway: Dante Alighieri will read from Paradiso to an audience of nightjars.
For National Poetry Day, longstanding Shore Poets supporter David Balfour will host us at the House of Shaws, where we’ll welcome three legendary poets – Yuri Zhivago from Russia, Australia’s Ern Malley and John Shade from the USA. MC for the evening will be Fred Prufrock, with music from The Sultans of Swing.
Strictly Shore Poets – compered by our Brucie.
In a re-opened Lot we’ll have a satellite link to the next world for a Hogmanay reading by Mark Ogle and Gael Turnbull, with music from Tony McManus and Brian Astor. It will be the first item of the new year on Good Morning Scotland, when Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to announce that poetry is essential for the nation’s health, and that she’ll be awarding us a huge grant so we can keep up the good work.