Poetry Partnership to Present UK’s Largest Poem

July 25, 2015

The Scottish Poetry Library has teamed up with Edinburgh’s New Waverley development to create what is believed could be the UK’s largest printed poem.

The ‘Big Words’ project aims to select a poem to feature on a 25 by 12 metre scaffolding banner adorning the façade of the Sailor’s Ark building on the Canongate, overlooking the city’s famous Royal Mile.

A shortlist of five poems has been selected by the Scottish Poetry Library, with the winner being selected by a public vote, using an on-line poll. Voting so far has been busy, and poetry lovers have until midnight Thursday 24 September to select their favourite verse by visiting:


The winning poem will be printed on the banner and read on National Poetry Day, Thursday 8 October, by the Edinburgh Makar, Christine De Luca. The poem will remain on the Royal Mile until summer 2016, during the redevelopment of the Sailor’s Ark – part of the £150 million New Waverley development currently transforming Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Launching the Big Words project, Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library said: “Poetry sees the bigger picture as well as the fine detail. This project is all about using great words to speak to the thousands of people who walk along the Royal Mile every day. We look forward to Edinburgh waking up to poetry on National Poetry Day.”

Clive Wilding, project director for New Waverley added: “This is a wonderful partnership project to present Scottish poetry on a huge scale. The Royal Mile is a very special place and where better to make such a spectacular statement, than on one of the world’s most iconic high streets.”

The five selected poems are:

  • Elizabeth Burns’ ‘Spiral’, which gently unravels a sense of wonder in making and observing.
  • Valerie Gillies’ ‘To Edinburgh’ which maps the city in the way a good love poem is a map of the beloved’s heart.
  • William Letford’s ‘Worker’, a poem inspired by working in construction.
  • Edwin Morgan’s ‘Foundation’ is a poetic manifesto: a list of items that could go into a foundation stone.
  • An excerpt from Margaret Tait’s ‘A Poem for Morning’ which projects the sense of hope we feel on sunny mornings.