As a celebration of poetry, of life and of Scotland the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award ceremony carved out a beautiful space in Charlotte Square, for an hour of perfect summer warmth. The biannual award’s shortlist is, to quote the judges in the accompanying volume handed to every attendee, recognition of ‘the richness and energy’ of the entries and their ‘startling diversity’.
Six poets made it through and we heard work from each of them. By turns personal, funny, informative, expansive, fun and ambitious; cultural, political and social; and Scottish. The event, the Award, the Edwin Morgan Trust and the broader Festival offer a platform by which a community can come together, reinforcing old connections and forging others anew. Shared interest was on show in an art form that was itself seen to be up for discussion, and we heard it pulled into different shapes by these young poets. Through such projects is culture developed, its boundaries challenged and its champions celebrated.
The winner was Penny Boxall, of Aberdeenshire. Her work is lyrical and light to the touch, yet engaging and crafted with care. Runner up was Miriam Nash, whose work is wry and knowing. Both they and the others who read created a warming atmosphere, with frequent references to Edwin Morgan and a belief that the work on show would capture the spirit of his ambition. This was poetry as a changing medium, a reflection of Scotland, and a link to a wider world of gardens, obscenity laws, language and lighthouses.
Special thanks were offered to the Edwin Morgan Trust, judges Jackie Kay and Stewart Conn, the chair Christine De Luca and the Scottish Poetry Library. The other finalists were Claire Askew, Sophie Collins, Harry Giles and Stewart Sanderson. Congratulations to Penny!