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Edinburgh City of Literature’s Way with Words

nternational poetry projections in Leith, Edinburgh - Photo by Chris Scott 

If you've been in the city, you may have spotted some captivating quotations around Edinburgh over the past few months all thanks to Edinburgh City of Literature’s Words on the Street campaign.  We got the literary lowdown on the project from Communications Executive Eleanor Pender and Project Manager Esther Rutter…

Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind Words on the Street?

Edinburgh as a City of Literature was the inspiration. Words on the Street is all about bringing to light the ages-old story of publishing within the city. Scotland’s first book was published here in 1508 and ever since, Edinburgh has been at the heart of the printed word in Scotland. From Canongate Books to the Saltire Society, the Scottish Book Trust to Edinburgh University Press, publishers here continue to share and promote the words of some of the world’s most exciting writers. With Words on the Street, we wanted to bring attention to this important and engaging part of the city’s history.

Colin Hattersley. ©Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust 

What was it like to work with Terry Gilliam for his Don Quixote message to Edinburgh?

It was great fun, he was brilliant to work with and so enthusiastic about the power of books to inspire. The message was due to be unveiled in the same week as the BAFTAs and we knew there always the chance that he wouldn’t be able to make it. But he was here, and enraptured by the city, telling tales of filming Monty Python, Don Quixote and how much he loved the whole campaign. His enthusiasm was infectious.

And Leith was lit up with international poetry, how did you decide on the locations and poems?

With Don Quixote in the city centre, we wanted the next part of the Words on the Street campaign to be somewhere different and to have the project stretching across the city. Creative Exchange were kind enough to house the projector for 11 days - and in the perfect setting with the blank RBS wall right across the street.

Christine De Luca's poetry will be projected onto Constitution St. Photo: Chris Scott. 

Are there more plans for Words on the Street?

There certainly are. In a nutshell, Words on the Street is a series of projects and installations across the city throughout 2016 and 2017. We are currently working on the next part of the campaign which is planned for the autumn. We’re working with businesses, local communities and cultural organisations to create an illuminated literary heritage trail throughout the Old Town. Illuminated stars and text will form a trail that will lead visitors to the New Waverley and greater Canongate and allow them to engage with the area’s cultural and written heritage. There are also a couple of small community projects we’re supporting as part of this, so keep an eye on our website.

And what else does Edinburgh City of Literature have up its sleeve for 2016?

Alongside Words on the Street, we’re getting set to celebrate 10 years of StoryShop, our platform to support Edinburgh’s emerging writing with the Edinburgh International Book Festival and plans are afoot for this year’s RLS Day in November, celebrating Robert Louis Stevenson.  It’s the 130th anniversary of the publication of Kidnapped, after all…

Find out more on Edinburgh City of Literature's website

Photo credits: Chris Scott and  Colin Hattersley. ©Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust

Edinburgh City of Literature receives Regular Funding from Creative Scotland.

This article was published on 30 Mar 2016