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#CEawards16: Scottish Poetry Library winners interview

The undoubted highlight of the year for the SPL was– of course– winning the Creativity category in the Creative Edinburgh Awards. We enjoyed the ceremony, with our entourage including Vahni Capildeo, who had just won the UK’s premier poetry award, the Forward Prize. Iain Morrison, whose work was at the centre of our award-winning event The Library is Open! Drag Queen Poems, was present as was Jean-Francois Krebs, a.k.a. Wanda da Fourrure, who looked fab in full drag. The award was a last hurrah for our programme manager Jennifer Williams, who put together the event and has now moved on to another post. We miss her!

Our other highlight of the year was the announcement of Jackie Kay as the new National Poet for Scotland, taking over from Liz Lochhead, the previous incumbent. The announcement was made at the SPL one March morning, with Jackie and the First Minister in attendance, not to mention the national press. Nice to see the SPL and poetry at the centre of the action for an hour or two.

In 2017, we have a number of exciting plans for events and for a year-long competition involving Jackie Kay but I’m sworn to secrecy currently. Keep watching our website for details when they become available. We’re also involved with Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh 1917-2017. 2017 marks the centenary of the war poet Wilfred Owen’s four month stay in Edinburgh, a period that turned him into the war poet we know today, and so arguably changed how we think about WW1 and warfare generally.Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh 1917-2017 is a collection of literary, educational and military groups and institutions that have gathered to find ways in which to mark Owen’s time in Edinburgh; to promote Owen’s writing as well as poetry generally; and to raise awareness of PTSD and military charities that support victims of PTSD.

Winning the CE award means the world to us. We take our events seriously, not simply as a way to generate income, but to bring new audiences into the Library. The Library is Open! Drag Queen Poems allowed the SPL to reinvent itself– and the award confirmed to us we were on the right track in doing so. It’ll serve as a reminder when planning future events that we can be innovative and even outrageous and still be doing something valuable that reaches communities and groups who might feel poetry is not for them.

I’m also pleased to announce that Iain Morrison’s ‘Drag Queen Poems’ will appear in his debut collection which will appear towards the end of 2017, published by Vagabond Voices, who I moonlight for as poetry editor. Watch out for it. The launch party might just be as memorable as our winning event.

Follow the SPL's progress here.

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