The Edinburgh Makar
Communications & Community Support
Edinburgh City of Literature Trust
22 September 2021
New Makar Announced for Edinburgh
The Scots word Makar means "one who fashions, constructs, produces, prepares, etc." (Dictionary of the Scots Language), and in a literary context it is the role of the poet or author as a skilled and versatile worker in the craft of writing. To celebrate Edinburgh's wealth of writing talent and its UNESCO City of Literature status, Edinburgh adopted its own version of the Poet Laureate: the Edinburgh Makar.
Established in 2002, the Edinburgh Makar is a civic role which is selected by representatives of the Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish PEN, The Saltire Society, the City of Edinburgh Council and us:the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust.
The Makar acts as the city’s literary ambassador, and it’s their role to compose poems on Edinburgh, its people and aspects of life in the city, assist in the promotion of poetry in partnership with literary organisations, and select poetry for the Council's website.
The first appointed Makar was Stewart Conn, followed in 2005 by Valerie Gillies, and in 2008 and again in 2011 for a second term, Ron Butlin. In 2009, the Edinburgh Makars’ plaque was erected in the City Chambers to honour the list of postholders who have been welcomed to the role. Christine De Luca was the fourth Edinburgh Makar, followed by Alan Spence, whose term was extended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And next in this prestigious line-up is the newly appointed Edinburgh Makar is poet and playwright Hannah Lavery, who took over the role in September 2021. Born and raised in the Capital, Hannah is a highly respected writer whose work has been published widely. Her poem, ’Scotland, you’re no mine’, was selected by Roseanne Watt as one of the Best Scottish Poems 2019. Her debut pamphlet, Finding Seaglass was published by Stewed Rhubarb Press in 2019 and she is working on a collection with Polygon. Her poetry dance film, Thirteen Fragments - in partnership with National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Society of Edinburgh - premiered as part of the Curious festival in August 2021 and will form part of a larger work, called Blood Salt Spring for the Push the Boat Out festival in Edinburgh 2021.
Hannah will also be bringing skills in writing for the stage to the role. In November 2020, her highly acclaimed lyric play Lament for Sheku Bayoh was directed by Hannah in a co-production with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland and Edinburgh International Festival. The Lament returned to the Edinburgh International Festival 2021.
The role of the Makar for the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature is one of creativity and opportunity. It’s a chance to show who the city is, and support the important role of poetry within its cultural scene. The team here at Edinburgh City of Literature is delighted to see what Hannah does with the role, and can’t wait to support her - and her work - during her tenure.