Poetic licence in the city chambers

Sometimes I know I am bigger inside than I am outside.

We need more poetry in politics.  For a few wonderful moments at the monthly full council meeting Ron Butlin lifted the tone inside Edidnburgh’s city chambers.  The Makar, or poet laureate, of Edinburgh opened the session with a poem in place of the usual prayer.  

But it was the wisdom of a 10-year-old girl that he invoked when he urged councillors to look inside themselves, to make the world  a better place.

Hostilities were suspended briefly on Thursday morning when Ron Butlin introduced a touch of humanity and humour to the more usually adversarial space, sharing the good news that his wife has very recently beaten the cancer that was diagnosed just as his appointment began in June 2008.  [Ron is pictured right and below at the launch of the Poetry Garden in St Andrew Square in August 2008]

Since then The Makar – novellist, poet and one time barnacle scraper on a Thames barge – has brought a distinctive personal style to the post with his poems about Edinburgh and Scotland: affection for the city never gets in the way of gritty and pointed realism.

Perhaps only a poet can get away with asking politicians to be their best selves.  Ron Butlin presented the line produced by a young schoolgirl in one of his poetry workshops – then he suggested the world would be a better place if politicians could find the bigger person inside themselves.

Jenny Dawe, the council leader, thanked him warmly – truly Makar means a builder with words –  then the council got down to business as usual discussing the cuts and the cost of the tram.  If anyone was searching for the bigger self inside they were not letting on.

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