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Living by Leaves

May 31, 2010

The Salt Publishing launch on Saturday was, believe it or not, my first visit to the Scottish Poetry Library.  I’ve wanted to go for over a year now, but it’s easy to get mired in St Andrews life. Thankfully, the end of exams and the launch provided the perfect incentive to jump on a train and get the hell outta Dodge. Many of my poetically-inclined friends are based in Edinburgh, so they can nip back and forth to the SPL as often as their hearts desire. There was a general expression of shock when most of these friends found out I was new to the Library, while I personally was proud just to have found the place by myself (I don’t know Edinburgh well at all).

Tucked away just off the Canongate and fortunately signposted, the SPL instantly became my new favourite building.  It’s frequently been called “a poem in glass and stone”, a phrase I was slightly dubious of at first. But it certainly has an elegance that could be called poetic, like a well-put-together stanza. I don’t usually go in for modern architecture; hard angles and too much glass can often make a building look sterile to me. Even on a cloudy day, however, the SPL is very pleasing to the eye. And that’s despite the fact that I got confused and tried to go in through a door that wasn’t there.

Several views of the SPL

The interior is just as lovely. It’s got a contemporary feel to it but retains that comfortable quiet that a library should have. The pale wood and clean walls lend the building light and openness, but without making it oppressive. It’s both cosy and breathable, if that makes sense.  I was welcomed by Peggy, the SPL’s communications officer and events manager, who I met properly at this year’s StAnza festival. She made tea and in exchange I accompanied her on the hunt for batteries. I felt at home already. Prowling through the stacks and spotting the occasional snatches of poetry printed on the walls made me love the place so much more.

The SPL are currently hiring, too. They’re looking for somebody to fill the post of Library Assistant. I’ve been encouraged to apply but sadly I have a degree to finish and right now the only suitable qualification I possess is my enthusiasm for Scottish poetry. Maybe in a couple of years’ time I might find myself seated behind a desk in the SPL, but alas! it is not yet to be. For anyone else who’s interested, I urge you to look into it here.

I left the SPL with my poetic appetites satisfied, my member’s application on its way to completion and a shiny new tote bag with which to advertise my new home from home. If you haven’t been, I recommend. It’s a beautiful, welcoming place that every poetry lover will feel an immediate kinship with.

Just outside the front door of the SPL

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2010 10:15 pm

    I should really get a lending card for the summer– would lessen my book spending!
    Could very much imagine you working there– shame about the timing.


  1. One Night Stanzas » Blog Archive » Procrastination Station #73

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