Tessa RansfordTessa outside the old Scottish Poetry Library in Tweeddale Court in 1984

Tessa was the founding director of the SPL — that magical place of all things good about poetry. We had a lovely and graciously long chat over tea and I do hope you’ll enjoy listening!


In a special double podcast extravaganza, Ryan chats with founding director of the Scottish Poetry Library, Tessa Ransford. In part one, they discuss the founding of the Library and Tessa’s own memories of the Edinburgh poetry scene including Norman MacCaig. In part two Tessa talks about the early days of the library, the opening event in 1984 and its role in the invention of Vegetarian Haggis, the Iain Crichton Smith poem which inspired the new building and we get to hear a few of her poems. Presented by Ryan Van Winkle.

Produced by Colin Fraser of Anon Poetry Magazine. Twitter: @byleaveswelive & @anonpoetry. Mail: splpodcast@gmail.com

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Part 1:

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First published Tuesday 1 December, 2010

Part 2:

Or download as MP3.

First published Thursday 4 December, 2010

About Tessa Ransford

Tessa Ransford. Photo by Michael Knowles Tessa Ransford was born in India, educated in Scotland and has lived all her adult life in Scotland apart from eight years working in Pakistan in the 1960s.

She has published sixteen books of poems since the mid-seventies, the most recent being Not Just Moonshine, her ‘New and Selected Poems’ from Luath Press, Edinburgh, 2008.

Tessa has led a busy working life as founder/director of the Scottish Poetry Library since it opened in 1984 until after its establishment in new premises in 1999, as founder/organiser of the School of Poets poetry workshop (1981-99) and as editor of Lines Review poetry magazine from 1988 until its final issue, number 144 in 1998. Poems, essays and articles have been published in many magazines and anthologies and in translation. She is now working as a freelance poetry adviser and practitioner, with special interest in relating poetry to those working creatively in other fields.

Tessa was a fellow of Royal Literary Fund (working since 2001 at the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh) and another RLF fellowship (2006-8) at Queen Margaret University. She set up the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award to encourage the publishing of poetry in pamphlets. It organises an annual Christmas pamphlet fair with the support of the National Library of Scotland and other sales/fairs for pamphlets throughout the year. She was president of International PEN, Scottish Centre, as from September 2003 to the end of 2006 and the commencement of its 80th anniversary year. Luath Press, Edinburgh has recently published her New and Selected Poems: Not Just Moonshine.

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