Recently I was asked to write a poem to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Scottish Library Association (now CILIPS, the Chartered Institution of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland). As some of you may know, I had a 35 year career in librarianship, and I was President of the Association in 2000, so I was delighted to accept the commission. Commissions are interesting; there’s no argument about the subject of the poem, and it’s always nice to be asked. After I say yes, I make a note of the deadline, and then I don’t think about the writing for a while. As the deadline approaches, I always start to get a slight rise in my anxiety levels – will I get the inspiration in time? I don’t know why I worry; it’s always worked out at the end of the day, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of adrenalin to get the writing muscles moving. It was the same with this one, but one afternoon in Elgin Library earlier this month, between a morning workshop in Forres and an evening reading in Lossiemouth, I brought out my ritual yellow writing pad and fountain pen (it’s what I do), and the initial ideas started to flow.
I got home and put the very sketchy first draft onto my PC, and it began to develop. Almost before I knew it a version was written. After some revisions, it’s completed, and I’ll read it at the CILIPS centenary dinner on Friday night. The Director tells me copies will be given to the guests after the reading, and it will be published on their website and in the journal Information Scotland. It’s a very satisfactory outcome, and the poem – a three-pager – is something I am very happy to set my name to. It celebrates the skills and personalities of librarians (who are nothing like their media stereotypes). It’s a bit innovative for me, because it contains some phrases in spoken Scots, which I’ve slipped seamlessly into the body of the work. I’ve no idea why I tried it, but I think it works.
My other new poem sprang from reading all the economic news lately. It’s called Recessional. I’m not going to post it here for copyright reasons – I think this one’s publishable and topical, and I want to send it out right away.