Welcome for the new Edinburgh Makar
The Scottish Capital’s new poet, the Edinburgh Makar, has been inaugurated today (Friday 27 June) at a special reception within the City Chambers.
Christine De Luca, who in May was announced as the fourth writer to be nominated for the prestigious post, follows in the footsteps of previous Edinburgh Makar Ron Butlin to become Edinburgh’s version of the Poet Laureate.
A highly respected poet and author, Christine was born in Shetland but has lived in Edinburgh since the late 1960s. An inscription of her name has been added to the Edinburgh Makars’ plaque in City Chambers, which also bears the names of the three writers who have held the office to date: Stewart Conn (Makar from 2002 to 2005), Valerie Gillies (Makar from 2005 to 2008) and Ron Butlin (Makar from 2008 to 2011, and reappointed from 2011 to 2014).
The Edinburgh Makar is a civic post instituted in 2002 by the City of Edinburgh Council. The writer is selected and nominated by representatives of the Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish PEN, The Saltire Society, Edinburgh City of Literature Trust and the Council.
The meaning of the Scots word Makar stresses the role of the poet or author as a skilled and versatile worker in the craft of writing. Edinburgh has always been a literary city, and to celebrate the importance of writers in the Capital the Council continues to show its commitment to the promotion of writers and literary projects, which enhance Edinburgh’s international reputation, including the post of the Edinburgh Makar.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Culture and Sport Convener, said: “Christine De Luca is an accomplished and prize-winning poet who writes in both English and Shetland dialect, which includes elements of old Scots and Norse.
“She is the latest addition to an illustrious group of writers who have filled this exciting role over the last decade, each benefiting the city with their talent, and I thank the fantastic Ron Butlin for the passion and spirit he brought to the role.
“Christine is an excellent choice, and I am sure she will inspire a great many people during her term as Edinburgh Makar.”
Christine De Luca said: “I feel amazed and apprehensive, ‘shaken and stirred’. All three previous Makars have shaped the role and graced it. I just hope I can rise to the challenge.”
Ron Butlin said: “Being Edinburgh Makar for the last six years has been a great honour and a real pleasure. I am delighted that Christine de Luca will be my successor. A fine poet and lovely woman, she will be an excellent Makar!”
Christine De Luca
Christine De Luca was born and brought up in Shetland, a place she meant to return to once she had finished her studies at Edinburgh University, but never quite made it back. She taught at Broughton High School for ten years, then, after a Masters in Educational Research, went on to become Head of Assessment R & D at the Scottish Qualifications Authority. With retirement, she has been able to focus more on poetry. A highly regarded and established prize-winning poet whose works have been translated into many languages, Christine has produced over a dozen books, mainly poetry but also a novel and some children’s stories. Her dual identity and dual languages have shaped her work. Her latest collection Dat Trickster Sun (Mariscat, 2014) has some poems in English and some in Shetland Dialect, a blend of Old Scots with much Norse influence. Christine is a long-standing member of Shore Poets (who produce monthly poetry events in Edinburgh) and Hansel Cooperative Press (supporting the arts in Orkney and Shetland). She lives in Edinburgh.
Ron Butlin was originally nominated as Edinburgh Makar in 2008, and reappointed for a second term in 2011. With an international reputation as a prize-winning novelist, Ron Butlin is one of Scotland's most acclaimed writers. His works include the novels 'The Sound of My Voice' (winner of the Prix Mille Pages 2004 and Prix Lucioles 2005, both for Best Foreign Novel), 'Night Visits', 'Belonging'; and most recently ‘Ghost Moon’ (2014); three collections of stories: 'The Tilting Room', 'Vivaldi and the Number 3' and 'No More Angels', as well as six books of poetry. Besides his radio plays, much of his work has been broadcast in Britain and abroad. His fiction and poetry have been translated into over ten languages.
The Edinburgh Makar
The Scots word Makar means "one who fashions, constructs, produces, prepares, etc." (Dictionary of the Scots Language), and in a literary context it is the role of the poet or author as a skilled and versatile worker in the craft of writing. To celebrate Edinburgh's wealth of writing talent and its UNESCO City of Literature status, Edinburgh adopted its own version of the Poet Laureate: the Edinburgh Makar.
In 2002 the City of Edinburgh instituted the post of Edinburgh Makar. This is a civic appointment, selected by representatives of the Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish PEN, The Saltire Society, Edinburgh City of Literature Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council. Nominees must be resident in, or have a strong connection with, the City of Edinburgh. The chosen candidate will have an established reputation as a writer, have the ability to act as the City’s literary ambassador, and be a highly motivated and personable individual. It is an honorary post, lasting for a period of three years. The Makar receives a small honorarium from the Council, and in return is asked to compose poems on Edinburgh, its people and aspects of life in the city, assist in the promotion of poetry in partnership with literary organisations, and select poetry for the Council's website.
The first appointed Makar was Stewart Conn, followed in 2005 by Valerie Gillies, and in 2008 and again in 2011 for a second term, Ron Butlin. In 2009, the Edinburgh Makars’ plaque was erected in the City Chambers to honour the list of postholders who have been welcomed to the role. Christine De Luca is the fourth Edinburgh Makar.