Rising poetry stars to mark opening of Edinburgh's new art venue

Scotland’s rising poetry stars are being challenged to create a piece of work for a David Mach-designed arts venue and events space on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

An artist's impression of the 5-ft tall Mach 1, an arts venue at Edinburgh Park. Picture contribute
An artist's impression of the 5-ft tall Mach 1, an arts venue at Edinburgh Park. Picture contribute

The winner of the poetry contest will get the chance to perform the piece at its official unveiling next summer at Edinburgh Park, as part of a new £500 million development beside the city’s tram network.

Details of the competition to find a “housewarming gift” for the building, which will be constructed out of 30 old shipping containers, were announced as an image was releasing showing what it will look like once completed.

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It is hoped live music, comedy and poetry events will be held at Mach 1, which the artist has touted as a potential Fringe venue and will have a capacity of around 140.

Developers Parabola, who announced in June that it was joining forces with Mach to create the 50ft tall building, revealed that work is due to start within weeks after the design was backed by the city council.

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Parabola has revealed it will appoint a writer and photographer in residence to chart the evolution of the 43-acre project – expected to house more than 8,000 office workers and 1,800 homes – as part of a wide-ranging arts strategy. A towering work of art by the late Leith-born sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi will be part of a £5m sculpture trail.

The poetry contest, which comes with a £3,000 prize, will be run in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library, which will offer mentoring support to the winner. It is open to “early-career poets” who have published no more than two collections.

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Parabola founder Peter Millican said: “Mach 1 will sit within an evolving landscape at Edinburgh Park focused on wellbeing with an array of world-class sculpture in a diverse and growing community which will be an exemplar of design quality and place-making.

“Working with poets, photographers, artists and performers is an important component of the unique vision Parabola is realising.

Asif Khan, director of the Scottish Poetry Library, said: “When Parabola approached us, we jumped at the chance to work with them on their Mach 1 building. One will never quite be able to look at shipping containers in the same way again.

“As the Scottish Poetry Library is housed in an iconic building, we appreciate the effect an innovative, visually arresting structure can have on those who use it, not least artists.

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“The long poem we’re inviting early-career poets to write will be a housewarming gift from Scottish poetry to Mach 1.”

An artist’s impression of the 50ft tall Mach 1, an arts venue at Edinburgh Park, part of a £500 million urban quarter beside the city’s tram network