Join the Poetry Army in St Andrew Square

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Here’s an invitation you can’t refuse. Come to St Andrew Square and find a poem chosen specially for you. “It personal, it’s fast and it’s absolutely free,” says Lilias Fraser of the Scottish Poetry Library who will be one of the ‘poetry army’ celebrating National Poetry Day on Thursday 9 October in Edinburgh’s very own Poetry Garden by handing out poems and poetry postcards. Better still, why don’t you join the army for the day?

It takes a bit of nerve to walk up to complete strangers and ask them what kind of poem they would like. But that’s what Ryan van Winkle was doing during the first lunchtime poetry event in St Andrew Square in September (Ryan is Reader in Residence for the city libraries). And you would be amazed how well people responded. Or maybe it’s not amazing at all. There is something very nice about having someone choose a poem for you.

After meeting Ryan, some adventurous souls made their way to the tent where Lilias had a folder full of poems to suit almost every taste. No-one went away disappointed. In fact, the first Personal Poetry Shopper went so well that the team are expanding the idea to celebrate National Poetry Day in three shifts – 8-10am, 12-2pm, 5-6pm – to meet people on the way to work, at the lunchtime break and when they are on the way home again.

Lilias says you are welcome to join in: “If you or anyone you know would like to pop along and help give out poetry postcards, we’d love your company. It is truly the best fun; weird, but true! You get a great response.”

For more information, call Lilias Fraser, Scottish Poetry Library, 0131 557 2876 or email

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Poetry in St Andrew Square began in September with a symbolic floating of lotus blossoms on the pond. Two Leith Open Space members were there: Nick Gardner to take pictures and Fay Young as a member of the steering group now working on plans for future poetry events in the garden.

Poetry in the Garden is supported by Essential Edinburgh, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, Coffee Republic, The Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Scottish Book Trust and The Writers’ Museum.

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