Between April 27, 2020 and April 27, 2021 The Edwin Morgan Trust marked Edwin Morgan’s centenary year with new works, collaborations and online celebrations.

In response to Covid19, the Edwin Morgan Trust took to heart Morgan’s motto ‘Change Rules’, and moved online, gathering audiences and partners as the year went on. The opening explosion of affection and joy in Morgan’s poetry, led by voices such as Damian Barr, Alan Cumming, Kate Dickie and of course the Makar, Jackie Kay, was followed by twelve months of digital events, commissions and collaborations. All of the videos created for Hold Hands Among the Atoms digital centenary celebration can be viewed here:

Looking back over the year, the Trust has been delighted by two aspects in particular: discovery and inspiration. They hoped that more people would discover and enjoy Morgan’s work, and this has certainly happened as people from Brazil to Belfast have attended events, and from Australia to Lisbon have relished the lines by Morgan sent out into the world. We have been able to ‘hold hands among the atoms’, as he put it, and one of the results has been a suite of videos from the Trust and their partners, including interviews, readings and a five-star dramatic exploration of his work from the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.

Yet Morgan was always one to look forward, and his poem ‘The Second Life’, from his 1968 breakthrough volume of the same name, has been key to the spirit and work of the centenary. Giving Morgan’s work a second life, in the hands of readers and artists inspired by his life and poetry, has been a thrilling development. One example is the activity of our partners Open Book, who made March 2021 its ‘Morgan Month’, and had its 50+ reading groups across the whole of Scotland reading Morgan, and many of them composing heartfelt group poems in response to his work. Another is All things are possible, a writing competition in collaboration with Gutter Magazine for poets over 40, which received over 200 entries. 

The Second Life grant programme invited some artists who were not well-acquainted with Morgan’s work, and others by open call, to find in his life and works something that resonated with their own lived experience, and to create a response. The result is twenty new works, from podcasts to dancing tunes, animations to installations, poems generated by algorithms and film-poems, collage and quilting… a range of artistry that shows the inspirational nature of Morgan’s legacy, and propels us forward into spring and beyond.

To celebrate Edwin Morgan’s 101st Birthday the Edwin Morgan Trust ended the Centenary with a Scotland-wide Celebration. Partners The Fruitmarket Gallery (Edinburgh), Eden Court (Inverness) and new Glasgow bar Bonjour hosted a variety showcase featuring The Second Life artists sharing their works. You can view this final video here:

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