Edinburgh, Singing the City brings a collection of celebrated poet, Christine De Luca's work together with iconic images of the capital from her time as Edinburgh Makar.

This pamphlet was launched on National Poetry day (28 September) 2017 at the Scottish Poetry Library and saw Christine in conversation with fellow poet Stewart Conn.


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Introduction from Christine De Luca

When I became Edinburgh Makar in 2014 I had no clear idea of how the role might develop. I knew I was expected to be an ambassador for poetry in the city and to respond to the occasional commission for a poem. Previous Makars—Stewart Conn, Valerie Gillies and Ron Butlin—had set the bar high and I admit I was somewhat unsure of what I could bring to the task entrusted to me for three years. However, with the expert guidance of Council staff and the support of Councillors on the Culture and Sport committee, I started to find my feet. More encouragement and interest came from the UNESCO City of Literature Trust and The Scottish Poetry Library as well as The Saltire Society and Scottish PEN. Although writing poems is largely a solitary endeavour I have never felt unsupported.

Some poems have been written in response to a commission or a request but most have come from a personal engagement with the city: its fabric, art, its history and functions; and some of the citizens who have made Edinburgh what it is today. The poems are undeniably civic in focus, generally upbeat and appreciative. However, there is the occasional exception! I have attempted to group the poems so that their purpose is clear.

Highlights of my Makarship have been accompanying the Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, to Kraków and to Florence, both cities twinned with Edinburgh. Two projects also stand out for me as particularly worthwhile: one was the Tweet your Street project with primary school pupils in which the children were encouraged to write very short poems about their own street which could then be displayed on a computer-based map; the second was a collaboration with 23 other local poets to create poems in praise of those whose work in the public sphere often goes unnoticed or unappreciated. The resulting Edinburgh Unsung is an online anthology. Both are accessible at www. edinburghmakar.org.uk

Some of these poems are already available on websites (the James Clark Maxwell Foundation website, Sceptical Scot website, the MapaScotland website as well as the Makars’ website); some have featured in the press: Scotland on Sunday, The Scotsman, Evening News and the Scottish Sun; some in magazines: Colinton Magazine Dec 2015, Leither, Issue 115, Historic Leith Guide, 2017, Green Shoots (Edinburgh Public Libraries  2005); anthologies: The Evergreen: A New Season in the North (The Word Bank 2014), Umbrellas of Edinburgh (Freight Books, 2016); and two from my previous collections Voes & Sounds (The Shetland Library 1995), and Parallel Worlds (Luath Press 2005). Thanks are due to all these editors and publishers.

Finally, I should like to thank the Saltire Society and the City of Edinburgh Council for making this publication possible, Stewart Conn for his support and helpful comments on the manuscript, and my son, Daniel, for volunteering to create a website for the Edinburgh Makar. I hope it may be of use to future Makars.