First Meeting with Tessa Ransford
Edinburgh International Book Festival 1981
She was behind me in a queue for buying books,
a pen and pad in her hand scribbling notes to herself.
Recently arrived from London where I was a member
of the Poetry Library in Convent Garden, I asked the sales person
“Where’s the Scottish Poetry Library?” He shrugged his shoulders
and said “never heard of it”. Tessa tapped me on the shoulder
and said “That’s a good idea” or something like that then suggested
we have a coffee & chat. That was the beginning,
That started it all – the spark in the dark, a seed sown
on an August rainy day. We talked for an hour, maybe longer.
and the idea grew stronger. After several more meetings with other poets
such as Hamish Whyte, then head of literature at the Mitchell Library
where we considered housing the first Scottish Poetry Library;
since I lived in Glasgow, that was my first choice. Tessa took the baton
and ran with passion gathering support from all over Scotland –
a woman possessed with a vision, determined to realise it.
She was a magnet for money, inspiring trust and commitment.
From the very beginning I joined the Scottish Poetry Library
and have been a member ever since. Tessa supported me
in starting Survivors’ Poetry Scotland and Lapidus Scotland
when she read her eco-warrior poetry at the Big Tent Festival.
We even met at family gatherings since I know her grandchildren,
but that first meeting, that tap on the shoulder, that’s the one
I’ll never forget –bold Tessa following a thread to find gold –
The treasure of poetry shared widely and freely throughout Scotland.