International poetry to light up Leith

March 3, 2016

International poetry is set to light up Leith with the launch of City of Literature Poetry Projections on World Book Day 2016.

The project is an 11-day series of international poetry projections by Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, taking place on Constitution St in Leith, marking World Book Day.



11 poems from the first 11 UNESCO Cities of Literature will be projected onto the Royal Bank of Scotland building on Constitution Street from 3-13 March (one poem each evening), just a stone’s throw away from Leith’s Robert Burns statue.

The light projections are part of the Words on the Street (#wordsonthestreet) campaign being run by Edinburgh City of Literature Trust, bringing literature to the streets of Edinburgh and celebrating international poetry. The campaign is the next stage in a series of projects that started with the successful Great Scott! project in Waverley railway station and the recent illuminated Don Quixotte quotation revealed by Terry Gilliam on Jeffrey Street.

The poems to be projected in Leith are from each of the following cities: Edinburgh-Scotland, Iowa City-USA, Reykjavík-Iceland, Krakow-Poland, Dunedin-New Zealand, Heidelberg-Germany, Granada-Spain, Prague-Czech Republic, Dublin-Ireland, Norwich-England and Melbourne- Australia.

These are all Cities of Literature, the initial 11 out of a growing global network of (currently) 20 UNESCO Cities of Literature. Edinburgh was the first city to be given the permanent designation by UNESCO.

Edinburgh Makar, Christine De Luca, is the poet who will kick off the Leith Poetry Projections.

The first stanza of her poem, ‘Through the Traffic of Tongues’, will be projected on Thursday 3 March after dusk.

The poem was written to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Edinburgh’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

The Leith Poetry Projections are delivered in partnership with Krakow City of Literature.

Krakow became a City of Literature in October 2013 and conceived an international collaborative poetry projection campaign called Multipoetry.

Running for three years, Krakow’s Main Square has hosted poetry projections showcasing poetry from across the Cities of Literature, including the work of many Edinburgh poets such as Robert Burns, Christine De Luca, Stewart Conn, Rachel McCrum and Michael Pederson.


Justyna Jochym, Head of Development and International Cooperation, Krakow City of Literature said: “Having worked with Edinburgh City of Literature Trust since 2014, it is lovely to see a project that started in Krakow coming to the streets of Edinburgh. We have enjoyed sharing international, national and local poetry with the residents of Krakow and have no doubt that Edinburgh will enjoy this glimpse into cultures and thinking around the world as much as we have.

Ali Bowden, Director of Edinburgh City of Literature Trust said: “It has been great to work with the other Cities of Literature to bring poetry to the streets of Leith. Today, World Book Day, is the ideal time to launch a project showcasing international work, when books are being celebrated across the country and around the world.”

Lord Provost Edinburgh commented: “Edinburgh is proud to be the founding UNESCO City of Literature, and to be able to welcome poetry from 10 Cities of Literature to Leith. This is a real opportunity to celebrate the ongoing work of the designation and bringing 11 of the Cities together to share in this ongoing and vibrant network of literary celebration.”



Explore the Leith Poetry Projections website section for news and features about these projections, Edinburgh’s Words on the Street project, and the city’s connection with UNESCO Cities of Literature around the world.

Follow #wordsonthestreet to find out more about the project, literary Leith and Edinburgh’s UNESCO City of Literature status.

Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote quote is still on full display in Edinburgh’s city centrum. If you are out and about at night: don’t miss it!