Wednesday, 30 April 2014

John Rae talk

Tomorrow evening (Thursday 1st May) The John Rae Society will be hosting a talk by Doug Pritchard, Serior Lecturer at Heriot-Watt University,  who will speak on "The Digital Scanning of the Hall of Clestrain".
The talk will be held at the Royal Hotel, Stromness, starting at 7.30pm, and admission is free.


Saturday, 26 April 2014

We're going on a poem hunt!

Apologies for the extended period of silence on here, let's just pretend it has been the result of an exciting Stromness Library adventure, involving an undisclosed exotic location and literary intregue (rather than because we've been off with a bad back)!

But here we are again, all ready to entertain, amuse and inform you, our lovely readers. Admit it, you've missed us terribly  - havent you?!

To reassure you that life in Stromness Library has gone on, even if our online activities had paused,  here is a heart warming story of how a request for a mystery poem ended in a surprise reunion. 

We get many requests for help in tracking down particular poems, often with no more clue than a vaguely remembered line,  so when a visitor came in looking for a George Mackay Brown poem called 'The Wedding' published in 1968, we confidently turned to the collected poems expecting instant success. 

But it was not to be. 

The index revealed 'The Wedding Guest' and 'Wedding Ring', with a bit of further investigation leading us to 'Fiddlers at the Wedding' - but none of these were the required poem. A quick internet search for 'The Wedding' by George Mackay Brown directed us to the index of complete works on the George Mackay Brown website  which listed a poetry publication called 'The Wedding' - yet no item with that title was listed on our library catalogue. 

The plot thickened. 

Not easily discouraged once on the scent, we turned for help to Brian Murray, long time friend of Stromness Library and an expert on George Mackay Brown related questions. From Brian we received confirmation that there had indeed been a publication of such a poem, but it was rare and hard to find. However he believed the poem had also been published in several anthologies and kindly offered to track it down amongst the volumes of his personal library. Later that same day Brian duly arrived with several volumes containing the poem from which we were able to make a photocopy of the poem.* 

The next day, when the visitor return to collect the copy of the poem, there occurred one of those happy coincidences which this job sometimes allows. There was a moment of recognition between library assistant and visitor and it soon emerged that they had last seen each other 45 years ago when they travelled on the school bus together.

So it just goes to show, you never know what you will find when you go on a poem hunt!

* We would like to thank Brian Murray for all his help in tracking down the poem. For anyone interested, 'The Wedding' by George Mackay Brown is in the anthology Modern Scottish Poetry edited by Maurice Lindsayavailable for loan from the Orkney Library.