Poetry and the power of simple pleasures

“With Trump in the White House and Britain heading blindly for Brexit, we must not be silent about horrors we witness, but let’s not stop enjoying and sharing simple pleasures’.” Fay Young reclaims the right to joy as a weapon against totalitarianism.

Talking Turkeys: five poems for Christmas 2016

Turkeys, one black one white, with tails fanned out

At the ragged end of a sorry year Fay Young goes in search of poems for Christmas and finds five offering humour, humanity and even a hint of hope that the world is not definitively going to hell on a handcart: praise to “a writer’s ability to touch people’s hearts with a phrase that doesn’t stop wars but makes people smile.”

Social cohesion and racism in Scotland

“Yet, reading the humbling stories of voluntary groups working hard to assist integration, I am shocked to see one Polish support group refer to the high suicide rate among Polish people in Scotland.” In the week of the Casey Report condemning UK governments’ failure to support intercultural social cohesion, Fay Young finds there is no room for complacency in Scotland.

Trainlines of poetry

Glenfinnan Viaduct on West Highland Line: photo Martin Deutsch

“There’s romance in railway stations and an emotional tug in the sound of familiar place names. A reminder, I think, of the physical links and feelings joining people in distant places: singular but shared.”

Creative cities: built on can-do culture

“Here’s to the kindling of generous can-do creativity in every town and city. It looks fun but it’s deadly serious too. In the turmoil of Brexit (along with wider global uncertainties), the healthy prosperity of city life is essential to the economy and social cohesion of nations.”

The Suppliant Women: a drama for our time

Two and a half thousand years old, the tale first written by Aeschylus could hardly be more topical. Themes of democracy, citizenship, rights of women (and wrongs of men) weave through the rhythmic text, in words sung and spoken. As Britain teeters on the edge of a divisive Brexit, feeding fears of migrants and foreigners, Greig’s script evokes the human plight of refugees – and the dilemma of the host country.

National Poetry Day: mixed messages

“And their message – in printed cards and performance poetry – is that both poetry and libraries matter.” On how Glasgow Libraries and the Big Issue – and countless others – celebrate(d) National Poetry Day.