Plans to get poets to read to Edinburgh tourists

Alec Beattie, Rose Ritchie, tour guide Brian Johnston, Agnes Torok and Tracey S Rosenberg. Picture: Jane Barlow
Alec Beattie, Rose Ritchie, tour guide Brian Johnston, Agnes Torok and Tracey S Rosenberg. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Modern-day Sir Walter Scotts capable of summing up Edinburgh’s haunting beauty in just a few words will get a chance to perform unique poems – to bus passengers.

Writing collective Inky Fingers is calling on would-be poets to put pen to paper and submit literary verse with the Capital as the subject and then performed to audiences on board city charabangs.

Four poets selected from initial submissions will get the chance to read their original material to live audiences on board one of the open-topped Edinburgh Tour double deckers run by Lothian Buses.

Before that the hand-picked quartet will be given tickets on one of the year-round tours that take in the New Town, Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish Parliament to get inspiration before their live readings.

Inky Fingers’ spokeswoman Agnes Torok hopes combining poetry with public transport will become as regular as the number 26 to Tranent. She said: “This is both an attempt to try and revive some of the unavailable poetry of the past – not everyone feels some kind of connection to [Robert] Burns or Scott – but also about original pieces written by new poets about Edinburgh’s ­history.

“We have an anonymous application system. When we’ve selected four poets that have written great initial poems they’re going to be commissioned to do a further two poems each, which are completely of their own subject on whatever they find interesting about the history of the city.”

Inky Fingers ultimately wants the mobile poetry tours to become a regular event. The readings will be delivered on tours run on November 21.

Each poet’s original submission must follow one of four briefs. The first theme, Resurrection Men, is based on the tales about Burke and Hare, who started out taking freshly-buried cadavers from graves for medical dissection before resorting to killing people.

James Young Simpson’s ­pioneering use of chloroform as an anaesthetic at dinner parties is the second brief.

Budding poets can also be inspired by the tag Medieval Manhattan – once used to describe the Old Town’s tightly-packed tenements – and Edinburgh’s history as a city of unfinished business, characterised by the Scott Monument, parliament ­building and the trams.

Ms Torok said: “Everyone should apply. It would be great to have some new voices.” The quirky initiative has been launched as part of Previously . . . Scotland’s Festival of History, which runs from November 13-30 and in its third year.

Submissions must be sent to inkyfingersedinburgh@gmail.com by 5pm on October 14. The limit for entries is 40 lines.