THEY SHOOT POETS DON'T THEY?

Well, I'm delighted to say that on Burns' Day I was appointed as the official poet - or Makar - for Stirling. This is essentially an honorary position - something the local Unison spokesman should have taken on board before making his 'slap in the face' comment in yesterday's Herald. It carries an honorarium of £500 per year, and not as the Herald claimed, £1500. It also, I understand, comes from a budget made up from legacies, therefore the money involved can not and could not be used for general council spending. So petty politicking and lax journalism from The Herald notwithstanding, I'm delighted. Particularly as I was nominated by local people and subsequently appointed by a non-political panel.

As I've said before, poetry is important for people. Why else do so many turn to it in times of distress? But poets don't write in a vacuum, and roles such as Makar matter.

Acknowledgment that what we as poets do in recording the times in which we live - as poets for millennia before us have done - is welcome. I truly regret that the belt is tightening on employees at Stirling Council, but that issue should not be confused with the honorary role of the Makar in raising the profile of poetry in the area. The role will also help promote Stirling as a place of culture and literary heritage.

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