To Learn the Future




A copy of The Scottish Poetry Library’s To Learn the Future arrived today with a loud announcement through the letterbox, hitting the terracotta floor in the porch, demanding my immediate attention to go running to pick it up. I had been waiting for a week for my copy and it arrived well in time. I opened the package in haste and out popped a bright blue pocket-size handbook.

My poem A Book Closer to Home was first published by Bloodaxe a few years ago in the anthology Out of Bounds. Lilias Fraser, the project manager at the Scottish Poetry library, got in touch with me on Twitter a few months ago and  told me she had come across my poem in an archive when she was searching for poems on the theme of ‘otherness’; she wanted to publish it in this new gift for newly qualified teachers. It was a pleasant surprise. Of course, after a telephone discussion, I agreed. Incidentally,  I was in Scotland a few weeks later for my birthday, exploring Braemar, so I stopped in Edinburgh to pop in and meet Lilias. I liked her energy and passion for this project and listened to her with deep interest as she told me about other projects they have undertaken, such as the previously published book of poems for GPs – she gave me a copy which I enjoyed reading on the way back to Brum.

The book of poetry for teachers is beautifully produced, is of very good quality, with a bright and eye-catching cover. I like the list of biographies at the back and there are well-known poets like Carol-Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay in it as well as other poets I have not heard of before but have made a strong presence on the page. The book brings together different voices addressing various aspects of education, the learning experience, not just the teaching experience. Mine falls under the chapter ‘Getting to Know’.

As soon as I could I called my mum to tell her the good news, having waited until the evening (she is in Canada at the moment). Her tired insomniac eyes lit up with pride and sparkled. I love seeing my mother’s eyes shine when I tell her about a new publication. It’s like all of a sudden youth jumps back into her body, momentarily lighting her up; within an instant her frail stature becomes stronger. I hide my sadness for her but continue to let it run wild on the page.

As always, I thanked her for creating those experiences and memories for me from which I write and WhatsApped her a copy.

I’m very pleased with this edition and hope to work together with the Library in the future.

Thank you Lilias. Thank you mum. Thank you to the forces that create luck and fortune.