Everybody has an old favourite poem and, over the years, I’ve had a chance to read most of them. Over and over again — ‘Daffodils’ and ‘My Lurve is like a Red Red Rose’ and ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ and a handful of other regulars come up every session or two.Truly, it is a delight to read these poems and watch the lips of those who’ve memorised them move in time — “Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee…”.
However, it is always splendid to be surprised and this group at McDonald Road Library were calling out poems I’d never had the opportunity to read out.
We bashed out some of Basho’s Haiku and shared the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I don’t think, in 5 years of visiting libraries all over Edinburgh, I’ve ever met a group who requested Millay.
And we dove into Stevenson with his Edinburgh appropriate “Keepsake Mill” making a charming appearance and then we chuckled our way through Edward Lear’s “The Jumblies” — it was all as jolly and unexpected as going to sea in a sieve, it was. While it didn’t always make sense, and might not be practical, it sure was fun.
Ryan Van Winkle is Edinburgh Libraries Poet in Residence