‘You Couldn’t Have Squeezed Another Cherub in for Love Nor Money…’ U.A.Fanthorpe

Dec.23 2011

Posted by Readers in Residence

Last day in the office before Christmas. Have survived a record number of library-related Christmas events including the Bookbug Christmas Party (in excess of fifty bairns with percussive instruments singing Jingle Bells) which I attended as an elf. Despite the terrific number of chins I’m sporting I post the following photo to prove it…

Other than that, a few new projects have been launched and I’ve been fulminating on what looks like it will be an incredibly hectic New Year in partnership with school librarians. Inspired by the Scottish Poetry Library’s Read Aloud sessions, I’ve run a similar pilot in Taing House (Lerwick carehome) for daycare clients, and visited North Haven Care Home in Brae to read with residents there. One staff member gave an great rendition of ‘Tam O’Shanter’.

My favourite session by far was the one in which members of the Shetland Dialect society Shetland Forwirds came along as guests, to read dialect poetry and prose to clients. They gave excellent performances of works by favourite Shetland writers, many of whom the clients had known personally. I managed to squeeze some romantic poets and a bit of singing in between the bannocks, tea and gossip.  I’m grateful to the clients and staff for their warm welcome, and for joining in with the readings. Looking forward to taking more events to rural care-homes in the New Year.

‘Poetry For Tea’ – (playlist) of which it was said ‘I haven’t been this relaxed all week’ – has finished for the time being but will be replaced by an eight-week Books Buffet in the New Year. We’ll have guests to introduce their favourite works from dialect and Nordic literature and run sessions celebrating long/epic poems, horror, Shakespeare and comedy…

Meanwhile, the Shetland Times has been running the ‘Readers Recommend’ column in the paper, featuring the reading habits of the Shetland public. We’ve had book recommendations from a samba-playing janitor-joiner, an archeological illustrator, a mother of two and textile design student, the three-times winner of the Shetland Young Writer prize and the Head of English at Brae High School. On a tip-off that Whalsay ferrymen and fisherman are insatiable readers, I’m trying to track down one willing to actually speak about it…

Bards in the Bog entries have been streaming in, and I’ll be making my selection over the next week or so. New poems due up in public toilets throughout Shetland in the New Year, promoted – all being well – by subtly anarchic events.

Happy Christmas from me and from the Shetland Library: I wish you a new year rich in literary fodder!

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Written by Jen Hadfield