The amazing GiftED book sculptures at the Scottish Poetry Library.
I’m guessing that, since you’re reading this blog, you like books really quite a lot. Therefore, you’ve probably heard about GiftED, the series of sculptures made out of old books and gifted to various literary landmarks around Edinburgh. But just in case you haven’t, here’s the lowdown: over the past eighteen months, these beautiful, intricate book-based paper sculptures have been popping up in places like the Central Library, Filmhouse Cinema and the SPL itself. Nothing is known about the uber-talented creator of these objects, except that she’s a lady. Oh, and she’s on a valiant one-woman crusade to save libraries and keep people reading. In other words: this person is my heroine.
GiftED has been on tour around Scotland over the past few months, much to the delight of every bookish Scottish person ever. It’s just ended its run with a few days on show at the Scottish Poetry Library, and I was lucky enough to be able to go along twice to see these ten wonderful pieces on show all in the same space. Here are some photos of just a few:
After two visits and I-don’t-know-how-many circuits of the exhibition, I finally, painfully, picked a favourite — and it’s the T Rex. As with all the sculptures, every time I looked at him I saw something else: the words interlaced between his jaws, the tiny men in the page-forest trying to take him down, and — my favourite part — his wee tail sticking out of the back of the book! Magic.
I also loved the dragon-baby. I thought it was such a nice physical metaphor for a book being born! He’s super cute, too. On my first visit to GiftED I was accompanied by the ladies from the women’s community support group I’ve been working with, and they were utterly enchanted by the whole thing. A few of us spent a while speculating over whether the dragon is nestled inside a real egg or not — is it an ostrich egg, maybe? It looks so real, we just couldn’t be sure.
I love the words that are carefully highlighted inside the gramophone… “towards dark.” This sculptor definitely has a penchant for the eerie and unheimlich!
This was the one my group picked as their definite favourite. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing poetry and the ways in which it can be used to help us understand the world, work through difficult times, celebrate happy times, etc. Many of the ladies in the group had never read a poem before in their lives, and therefore were understandably nervous at the start. But they saw this sculpture and loved it. One of them said, “that’s how I feel about books now — like you can be sheltered by them.” Result!
This — the Poetree — was the first sculpture, the one that started all the (totally deserved) hype. The exhibition (and its accompanying promotional book) contained an illustrated guide to making your own poetree! My favourite instruction: “inconsistencies add charm.” A good motto for life, methinks.
“Nothing beats a nice cup of tea (or coffee) and a really great book.” She speaks the truth! If you want to see the other sculptures (and er, much better photos of the ones featured here!) you can head over to the photostream of the wonderful Chris Scott, who, quite rightly, has become their de facto official photographer!
Having an ethical, hopefully-Amazon-free Christmas
I don’t want to sound too judge-y here, but you guys… is it me, or has Christmas become a time for assholeish behaviour? This assholeishness is weird, since Christmas is supposed to be all about being selfless and nice! It seems that, at Christmastime, some people become weird Mr-Hyde-type versions of themselves as far as all things greed and consumption are concerned. Christmas is the time of year when we do things like stuff a bird into a slightly bigger bird and then stuff both those birds into a slightly-bigger-again bird, roast, and then scoff so much of the resulting Frankenbird that for the rest of the day we can’t do anything more taxing than occasionally nibble the edge of an enormous Toblerone. We spend a bazillion pounds each on a bazillion presents, usually from massive high-street and internet conglomorates who dazzle us with their sparkly TV ads (if I see that goddamn awful Brad Pitt Chanel No. 5 ad again I may smash Lovely Boyfriend’s beloved UberTV to bits). We buy presents for people we don’t even like because we feel like we have to. We send 1.5 billion Christmas cards TO LANDFILL for chrissakes. Sorry to sound like the world’s biggest Scrooge, but it’s effed up, y’all. It’s time to OCCUPY CHRISTMAS!
OK, maybe that’s a bit radical for the moment. But still — this year I have been trying to stick to the following Christmas rules:
– Buy second hand wherever possible
– Buy local wherever possible
– If you can’t buy local or second hand, at least buy from an independent business or charity org
– No sweatshop labour
– No animal cruelty
– No waste
– No Amazon purchases
I’m now pretty much finished with my Christmas shopping, and I know I’ve broken my rules a bit already. For example: I bought a box of chocolates for some of my workmates that I know has dairy in it, so animal cruelty (*cries*). I can’t go into more specifics right now without giving away what other presents I’ve bought, but I might do a re-cap post-Christmas and evaluate how I did! In the meantime, I’m doing crafty, waste-free stuff like wrapping my gifts in old brown paper bags and pre-used wrapping paper (see photo above — I’ve been saving all year from birthdays etc!) and making present tags out of last year’s Christmas cards (see photo below). I’m feeling super righteous, very crafty, and really unusually rich for this time of year as a result!
The new issue of The Edinburgh Review: #136, aka No Shouting Out.
This isn’t just making the list because I have a review in it, but, well… I have a review in it! This is my fourth contribution to The Edinburgh Review in twelve issues, and I’m really happy that they keep accepting my work! I love the publication, especially since Alan Gillis took over the role of Editor-in-Chief — he’s doing fantastic work. Look how pretty this issue is!
My review is on Kerry Hardie’s most recent collection, The Oak & The Ash & The Wild Cherry Tree. Hardie is hands-down one of my all-time favourite poets ever ever ever, so needless to say, my review is pretty glowing. You should all seriously buy this book straight away, because it is brilliant. It’s about ageing and death and nature and birds and skies and trees and memory and it’s GREAT! Get it, get it one and all.
Want to read more? Well, you’ll have to buy The Edinburgh Review, then! Except the issue’s so new, it seems to be not-available-online-yet. It will be, though — keep an eye on the site. There are a million other (better!) reasons to buy a copy too, of course — Hannah McGill has a GREAT short story in here, and the fantabulous Jen Hadfield has written a highly right-on review of William Letford’s Bevel. Hey, why not go the whole hog and get a subscription?! So worth it, trust me, and they’d love and appreciate your support for sure! If you’re in Edinburgh, you can also keep an eye out for the issue in bookstores, including the wonderful Word Power.
What are YOU loving this week?
You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!