The Citizen Map of Musselburgh

Poems, stories and reflections inspired by the town

Over the past year, Edinburgh International Book Festival has been working with local writers in Musselburgh. Using the town’s surroundingsarchival newspaper clippings and items found in local charity shops as prompts, they have created and recorded a series of poems, stories and reflections. You can use the icons to match up each piece with the map, and listen to the sounds on the playlist below. 

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Stoneybank Crescent is the place where Karen’s grandmother met her youngest daughter for the first time. In her poem Solid, she describes an encounter between three generations of her family, and what it means to be part of a line connecting past and future. 

Scroll down to hear the audio

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Musselburgh Beach has been an important place for our writersNatalie’s 400 souls connects two days in Musselburgh across a century, weaving history and the present day. The beach is also a setting for two of her ‘Tiny Memoirs’, Blue Eyes and ChairJulia has been prompted by memories of the seaside, with a poem called The Rock Pool, which describes a happy childhood day spent with of her father.

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Musselburgh Harbour is the setting for James, Julia’s haunting poem which starts out light-hearted before ending in a tragic twist. The poem is read by Dave Forbes, also a writer with the Citizen Musselburgh Writers’ Group. 

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The Roman Bridge has inspired two of our writers to create very different works. Jeff’s piece is a poetic conversation with a ghost, while Lannah’s reflects on the bridge’s long history, and how climbing the steps became an ambitious milestone on her route to recovery from an injury.

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Several of the writers used treasures found in Musselburgh’s charity shops on Market Street and the High Street as prompts for their poems, including Owl by Lannah and Lace Crochet Pattern by Jean, which recalls memories of her mother. An old record of Russ Conway’s Family Favourites is the charity shop find that prompted Julia to write her reflective piece, My Man Russ. 

Also on the High Street, there’s a key cutting shop. In Jane’s poem, Whit a rare bunch o keys, she uses her own set of keys as a prompt, to reflect on memories and stories they spark from the past 

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Sometimes, place names can remind us of people long forgotten. That’s exactly what Musselburgh’s Mansfield Road did for Lannah. Here, she reflects on a man called Mansfield who served alongside her husband behind enemy lines, in the Second World War.

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The Musselburgh wildlife, and in particular the bird life, has inspired two poems. Goosegreen Crescent, close to where the River Esk meets the sea, is the location of Natalie’s Geese.

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Further east along the shore towards Musselburgh Lagoons, Jeff’s poem With the Birdwatchers reflects on the experience of being in one of the bird hides, looking out to sea and trying not to let his imagination run away with him.

Listen to the poems, stories and reflections here

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Citizen is our long-term creative programme working in partnership with organisations across Edinburgh and Musselburgh, offering local people a platform to explore identity, connection and place. The project is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road, and is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

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