by Colin Waters

The Scottish Poetry Library reveals the best poems of 2017

April 27, 2018 | by Colin Waters

The Scottish Poetry Library publishes its online anthology Best Scottish Poems, today, Friday 27 April on its website. The latest anthology, which is drawn from poems written by Scots or poets based in Scotland, covers 2017. The guest editor is Idlewild frontman and solo musician Roddy Woomble (pictured). The selection contains poems by the National Poet for Scotland Jackie Kay, T.S. Eliot Prize-winner John Burnside, Whitbread Prize-winner Douglas Dunn and Jen Hadfield, who remains youngest winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, as well as exciting new talent. The poems cover the death of a parent, Scotland, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Buddha and growing old, amongst other subjects.

Each spring since 2005, the Library has published on its website a collection of the best 20 poems written by Scottish poets or a poet based in Scotland, which was published the previous year in books, pamphlets, and magazines. Previous editors have included Janice Galloway, Alan Spence and Jen Hadfield. Roddy Woomble read every poem written by Scots or poet based in Scotland published last year in a single collection, anthology or journal, a mammoth task.

Roddy Woomble says, ‘I was delighted to be asked to select my favourite Scottish poems of 2017. I have been going to the Scottish Poetry library regularly since it began, to absorb some of the ideas on the shelves, and to chisel away at my lyrics. It is a fantastic resource and space.

‘I came to poetry in my late teens having never enjoyed it at school. When I discovered poets, such as Frank O Hara, Richard Brautigan and Jack Gilbert, they opened up a new way of thinking and describing, which helped me on my journey as a songwriter. Scottish poets like George Mackay Brown and Iain Crichton Smith cemented my new love of poetry, which I now consider, twenty years of reading down the line, when done truthfully and well, to be one of the purest forms of art.’

The twenty poems chosen by Woomble for Best Scottish Poems 2017 are:

  • ‘Margaret’s Moon’ by Jackie Kay
  • ‘Approaching Sixty’ by John Burnside
  • ‘Remembering friends who feared old age and dementia more than death’ by Douglas Dunn
  • ‘The Plinky Boat’ by Jen Hadfield
  • ‘Hello I am Scotland’ by Michael Pedersen
  • ‘Farm by the Shore’ by Thomas A Clark
  • ‘Prayer for my father as a child’ by Miriam Nash
  • ‘I lost my shoes on Rachel Street’ by Rachel McCrum
  • ‘Paper Flowers’ by Cheryl Follon
  • ‘Ossian’s Grave’ by Alan Riach
  • ‘The Buddha Amitābha’ by D M Black
  • ‘Pass the lukewarm forest’ by Colin Herd
  • ‘Stevenson’s Edinburgh’ by Andrew Nielson
  • ‘Ashley Lane’ by Kate Barrett
  • ‘A Critique of Dialectical Reason’ by Drew Milne
  • ‘An Old Woman Cooking Eggs’ by Anne Shivas
  • ‘Flowers’ by Judith Taylor
  • ‘Well Park Lane’ by Mark Tennant
  • ‘For as long as’ by Alan Young
  • ‘Our Place’ by Colin Will

The anthology can be found on the Scottish Poetry Library’s website 


Blog / Discussion

Jane Haining’s Letter from Auschwitz

by Alison Metcalfe, National Library of Scotland

Rusticated… (VI)

by Brian Morton

Spring Fever

by Rosemary Goring


by Alan Taylor

Coming and Going

by Alasdair McKillop