Poet Rachel Tennant visits the Thistle Quilters in EdinburghVoluntary Arts Scotland teamed up with the Scottish Poetry Library to create 'My Time - Poetry inspired by voluntary arts'.

Funded by Creative Scotland, this nationwide participatory project took place in 2017/18 and had three stages:

Stage One - an open invitation to everyone

We asked people what ‘my time’ meant to them. It could be singing in a choir, knitting with your friends, pottering in the garden, painting a beautiful view, mastering a new chord on the guitar, writing a short story . . .

We were overwhelmed by the number (and beauty!) of poetic responses. A panel of representatives from the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) and Voluntary Arts Scotland chose a selection of them to appear on this website and the SPL website - you can view these here

Some of the poems were also selected to appear in a publication, which was published and distributed in March, and is available online here.

If you would like us to send you a hard copy of the publication, please email [email protected]


Stage Two - pairing poets with voluntary arts groups across Scotland 

Working with St Mungo’s Mirrorball - The Glasgow Network of Poets, we paired up ten poets with ten voluntary arts groups across Scotland:

  • Shetland Mandolin Band - Christie Williamson
  • Braemar Creative Arts Festival - Chik Duncan
  • The Truly Terrible Orchestra, Inverness - Stewart Sanderson
  • Performance Collective Stranraer - Mark Russell
  • Thistle Quilters, Edinburgh - Rachel Tennant
  • Ricefield Arts and Cultural Centre, Glasgow - Larry Butler
  • Edinburgh Headway Group creative writing class - Trisha Heaney
  • Aberdeen University Swing Dance Association - Polly Atkin
  • E Karika Djal, Romany band, Glasgow - Catherine Eunson
  • Local Vocals, dementia-friendly choir, Helensburgh - Mary Thomson

Inspired by what they saw (and joined in with!), the poets wrote about the group they visited. The results of which appear in the My Time publication, were shared at StAnza poetry festival, at the Scottish Poetry Library - and are due to appear in exhibitions during 2018 (to be announced).

You can read the poems in the My Time publication here.


Stage Three - exhibitions and events

StAnza - Scotland's International Poetry Festival - Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Thursday 8 - Sunday 11 March 2018. A digital exhibition featuring three of the St Mungo's Mirrorball poems, three of the open call poems, and a poem written by Samuel Tongue based on a poetry workshop we held at Paisley Arts Centre. Plus a live reading.

Get Creative Festival - Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh, Saturday 17 March 2018. A live event during which poets from St Mungo's Mirrorball, and ten from the open call, read out the work they created. Photographs from the visits were also on display.

More exhibitions are planned for 2018 - details to follow soon!


At the start of the My Time project, here's what Jemma Neville, Director, Voluntary Arts Scotland and Asif Khan, Director, Scottish Poetry Library said:

"From oil painting to hula hooping, brass bands to embroidery, finding time for ourselves to be creative brings people together, sustains local venues and helps us make sense of the world around us. I am delighted that investment from Creative Scotland will support us in match-making poets and arts groups, so we can explore and celebrate what 'My Time' means to people." Jemma Neville

“The Scottish Poetry Library welcomes Creative Scotland’s funding support for the My Time initiative. Poets will no doubt embrace the opportunity to engage with voluntary arts groups across Scotland to discover the passions and motivations that drive people to get together to create and share. We will help to promote to a wide audience the much-anticipated work that the poets produce in response to meeting with the arts groups.” Asif Khan

Photo - Poet Rachel Tennant visits the Thistle Quilters, Edinburgh. Credit: Derek Anderson