About the Stirling Makar, Laura Fyfe.
One Year Anniversary
It's been a year now since I was announced as Stirling Makar! And here's my first official Stirling Makar poem. I wrote it last year from the depths of lockdown, when the last thing many of us felt we were doing was living our lives. Certainly not as we'd hoped to, a year into the pandemic.
Now that I've performed it to the Provost Panel, here it is officially for you all.
I hope you're all feeling more lively and hopeful this Springtime.
We stand upon this earthen
mound, volcanic rock
its heat long cooled.
Before us Ochils roll along their line
behind us graveyard stones in strata
and the Forth curls shining into distance.
Castle closed, city hushed.
Underneath our fingertips
this wall crumbles.
Take a step out of time.
Feel layers of history swell below our feet.
Watch the rain fall, catch drops
on our tongues and taste the sky.
Feel stories wash away down cobbled streets.
Stand tall on the hill with heroes and fools
against the pull of gravity.
Open and stretch to the furthest
reaches of that horizon
and return with nothing
but the memory of notes playing
the breath of a crowd
vibrating like the skin of a drum
Feel what thrums beneath
the silence between.
It tells us we are alive.
It tells us
From Laura Fyfe, the Makar
Stirling: Alive with Words
It’s with a sense of great pride and gratitude that I take on the honour and responsibility of the Stirling Makar. I wish to express my thanks to the team at Stirling’s Library Services, and look forward to working with them. With the appointment of Makar, Stirling Council demonstrates the recognition it gives to culture – which lies at the heart of every society.
I’m grateful to be a part of a wonderful writing community here in Scotland, and huge thanks to friends who’ve already been the source of great encouragement. Thanks also to my colleagues in Falkirk High School for their ongoing support and I look forward to working with them to explore how poetry might enrich the excellent work that already goes on there to support the learning of young people.
Stirling is my home. This is central to my passion for doing as good a job as possible in the role of Makar. I’m a proud Daughter of the Rock. Stirling’s paths are the paths I walk, the roads I drive, the mountains I climb. What happens in Stirling matters more to me than what happens anywhere else. It’s where my energies are rooted and is where my energies as a writer and tutor have always returned. The Makarship now lends me a greater platform with which to support and amplify the work of Stirling’s writers. I intend to bring the poetry world to Stirling, and with my connections across Scotland, such as my roles on the boards of the Scottish Writers’ Centre and Scottish Poetry Library, I intend to bring Stirling’s poetry to the wider world.
“Makar” is the Scots word that refers to a literary writer, in particular a poet. We have a strong legacy of Makars in Scotland – and here in Stirling. I’m honoured to join their ranks. I look forward to building on the foundations they’ve laid in order to lead Stirling’s poetry into the future.
Five years ago today, Jackie Kay’s appointment as Makar was announced at the Scottish Poetry Library. At the event, Nicola Sturgeon said “Poetry is part of Scotland’s culture and history…The role of the Makar is to celebrate our poetic past, promote the poetry of today and produce new pieces of work that relate to significant events...”
In her statement, Jackie Kay said that poetry holds up a “mirror to a nation’s heart, mind and soul.” Far be it from me to argue with Jackie. Instead, I’ll add my own symbol to the discussion of what poetry can be...
A bridge. Between people, places and ideas. Between past, present and future. The Makar is a position that represents poetry in the public eye and as Makar, I too hope to act as a bridge.
A bridge’s raison d’etre is to provide a pathway. I aim to advance the role of poetry in the lives of the people of Stirling and signpost aspiring writers towards ways that they can embark on their own poetic journeys. Having spent ten years supporting writers in Stirling and across Scotland, both on a voluntary and professional basis, I’ve met with and collaborated with many fantastic creative organisations. I look forward to strengthening these connections in order to provide more opportunities to nourish Stirling’s poetry scene. I aim to use the Stirling Makar role as a springboard with which to further the work I’ve loved so much over the last decade.
Bridges of course encourage movement and connection. I hope to act as a spark of energy with which to ignite Stirling’s cultural vitality. I’ll guide Stirling’s poets towards opportunities, provide events with which to showcase their work, and shine a light on achievements around Stirling that they may find inspiration from. As well as celebrating the work of some well-known poets connected to Stirling, my foremost ambition is to encourage the emergence of new voices.
A ‘Makar’ is an ambassador for poetry. The word ‘ambassador’ has its origins in the Latin: Ambaxus-Ambactus which means servant or minister. Stirling, where poetry is concerned, I’m here to serve. Tell me what you’d love more of in our poetry scene and I’ll endeavour to work with you to provide it. Bear in mind that to effect real, lasting, positive change, the more of us the better. So I invite you to become actively involved! I’ll reach out soon to open up a dialogue about the past, present and future of poetry in Stirling. In the meantime, I’m listening. My in-boxes are already filling with great news and suggestions, as well as messages from organisations who’d like to collaborate. The next three years are going to be exciting! Join me on the adventure.