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The Centenary Year of Edwin Morgan

Category: Blog

This is a guest blog written for the CILIPS website by Robyn Marsack. It outlines how libraries can get involved in marking the centenary of Edwin Morgan in 2020. 

Edwin Morgan

Photo kindly provided by the Scottish Poetry Library with permission from the Edward Morgan Trust

This year we’re celebrating the centenary of Edwin Morgan (1920-2010), Scotland’s first modern Makar. How much we miss his inquiring, playful, passionate and optimistic intelligence! ‘When the times darken / will there be singing even then?’ asked Bertolt Brecht, in a four-line poem that Morgan translated. The reply: ‘There will be singing even then. / Of how the times darken.’

Morgan sang: of his times, of his loves, of his country, of the world and worlds beyond Scotland and beyond planet Earth. We hope that in this centenary year, people who have never read a Morgan poem will encounter and enjoy one – or more – and that those who already know his work will be surprised by a poem or a line that they don’t know. Here’s where the libraries come in – and Morgan loved libraries.

In partnership with the University of Glasgow Library and with CILIPS, the Edwin Morgan Trust will be making resources available to any library (including school libraries, of course) that would like to make Morgan a focus in the centenary year, which stretches from his birthday on 27 April through to March 2021. So you might choose to mark it from April this year, or around National Poetry Day in October, during Scotland’s book week in November, for Valentine’s Day in February 2021, during LGBTQ month… whenever it suits you.

You may want to have a display around Morgan books, or ask one of your reading groups to have a Morgan session; you may want to apply for funding from Scottish Book Trust to bring in a writer to run a Morgan-inspired writing workshop, or bring in some poets to read their favourite Morgan poem along with some of their own; you may want to combine poetry and art, poetry and music, as he did… there are endless possibilities.

We plan to have a selection of downloadable/printable sheets, comprising: an outline info sheet about Morgan; one or two good photographs; a reproduction of a manuscript poem; a reproduction of a typescript poem; and three poems to display – probably the ‘Chaffinch Map of Scotland’, ‘Strawberries’, and ‘Seven Decades’, which takes the reader through Morgan’s life and times.

If you would like to make any suggestions about what you would find useful in such a pack, we’d be glad to hear about them by 24 February. Please put ‘library resource’ in the subject heading, and email us – contact details are here.

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