Morag McRae
Administrator of Poetry Places

July, 2000

During the span of Poetry Places my daughter has doubled her life, I have said hello and goodbye to two Poetry Places Co-ordinators, farewell to one Director welcome to another and my husband has taken to groaning when he sees yet another article about poetry and poets in the newspaper. And yet Poetry Places, as it comes to the end of its two year span and is relegated to many box files is still my pride and joy.

From the first opaque explanation from the then Director, Chris Meade, whose brain child this was, through the delight at getting the grant, fear of having to Do It and the everyday highs and lows of running a huge project I have believed Poetry Places is a good idea. Poetry has an important place in my life. I think poetry matters and I believe passionately that poets need as much support as possible to enable them to concentrate on their own work. So to be involved in a project which was set up to share poetry with as many people as possible while giving work to over 130??? poets seemed worthwhile. Of course it has not been a perfect project there have been disappointments and some lost opportunities but if you look at the spread of projects by subject, geography and poets employed I think we have done our best to use our grant in an equitable way. It is a personal triumph that I managed to run a project in Scotland!

For me it has been a privilege to work on Poetry Places. I say this for lots of reasons but a purely selfish one is that I have an eclectic mind and Poetry Places gave me many glimpses into other worlds. It pleases me enormously that I now have glancing knowledge of the history of tin mines and the running of gas platforms. I have been behind the scenes at Marks and Spencers - I visited on Cheese Day. I have met Michael Mansfield, and the fabric softner innovations team one of whom rejoices in the job title of Snuggle Brand Manager. I have attended a press conference for the 'Dome' poet, - a bizarre occasion when they 'welcomed Typhoo tea to the family of sponsors' and talked about 'sourcing' the poet Simon Armitage. I have found myself in the wilds of Northumberland with my aforesaid daughter, long suffering husband and our dog, tracking down a Texan poet, Joel Nelson, who charmed everybody he met in Rothbury including myself.

So, good for you, I hear you say, but while I have had such a good time I never forgot that Poetry Places was about people. I also know that the scheme wouldn't have worked without the talent, imagination, energy, generosity, enthusiasm, courage, originality and commitment that all those involved have brought to each and every placement and residency. A very big thank you to you all. .