Poetry, performance and place: a postcard from Dundee

A marvellous summation of the role of poetry in Dundee’s past and present. As part of the launch for our anthology, Whaleback City, I did a poetry walk with Andy Jackson a couple of years ago for the Dundee Literary Festival, and had great fun.

And Andy and I have been talking about a poetry map to illustrate what Erin is saying here – Dundee’s streets may not be paved with gold (here and there it’s mair likely tae be needles), but metaphorically they are lined with poems, and that should (as in her post) be celebrated.


This post was written by Erin Farley, a second year PhD candidate at the University of Strathclyde on the Collaborative Doctoral Award project “Poetry, Song and Community in the Industrial City: Victorian Dundee,” in partnership with Dundee Central Library. Her research focuses on how the composition, performance and reception of poetry and song reflected and influenced people’s relationships with place. She has previously worked in the fields of oral history and folklore studies, and is also a traditional storyteller. She is on Twitter @aliasmacalias.

The city of Dundee is the main character in my thesis. My research looks at the many ways in which people were creating and performing poems and songs there throughout the 19th century – a body of work which covers a huge variety of forms, mediums and experiences. Verse was printed in newspapers, sold for a penny in broadside shops, sung on the streets…

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About Bill Herbert

Poet and pseudo-scholar W.N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961, educated there and at Oxford, where he completed his DPhil thesis on Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and now lives and works in Newcastle. He is Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and his books are published by, among others, northern publisher Bloodaxe Books. He is also the Dundee Makar, or city laureate.
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