Edinburgh Makar poem celebrates City of Literature

The Scottish Capital’s new poet, the Edinburgh Makar, revealed her latest work today (Thursday 23 October) at a meeting of the City of Edinburgh Council within the City Chambers.

Christine De Luca, who in May became the fourth writer to take up the prestigious ‘Poet Laureate for Edinburgh’ post, recited new poem ‘Through The Traffic of Tongues’ for the first time.

The poem includes snippets from poems from Edinburgh’s three previous Makars, and has been commissioned by the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Capital becoming the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

There are now seven Cities with this designation, with Kraków in Poland the most recent entry in 2013. Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Councillor Donald Wilson, has been visiting Kraków this week with the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust in order to underline and reinforce the strong links between the two cities, as a Partner City and sister City of Literature.

Edinburgh’s Depute Lord Provost Councillor Deidre Brock, who chaired today’s Council meeting, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Edinburgh’s designation as the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature with the reading of Christine’s wonderful new poem, which really captures how literature has shaped and continues to influence the Capital and our fellow Cities of Literature.”

Further details are available at the City of Literature website.

Through the Traffic of Tongues

A poem from Edinburgh Makar Christine De Luca to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Edinburgh’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature

Ten years we’ve had of trafficking,

of keeping borders open through words,

through discerning conversation, 

the hospitality of books.  Seven citadels

of literature, all fostered from a dream;

seven hills and heavens, cities of possibilities.

Edinburgh: first to light up with literature,

spelled out its heritage and future.  That night

in Paris was a consummation, a delight.

We passed the flame to Melbourne:

an ancient meeting place of sign and symbol,

built on gold, a rush of writing, a wealth.

Then Iowa City made the cut; told the world

it had made the sentence behave

and misbehave, recast our myths.

Dublin followed with its Book of Kells,

its four Nobel literary laureates

and a daft Bloomsday every June. 

Reykjavik was standing in the wings,

holding its ancient tongue; weighing

its Edda and Saga, its poetic forms.

But Julian of Norwich was stirring in her grave.

Across 600 years we still need the solace of words

that tell us that all shall indeed be well.

Kraków is the seventh hill, the seventh dream:

its word hordes, bulging libraries, its bookshops;

the deep lines on its literary face.

All outward-looking places, all generous,

all built on the topography of words.

Open the book, read, translate, pass on the gift.

Edinburgh Makar at Full Council

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