Skip to content | Skip to main menu | Skip to current section menu | Accessibility

Print this page

The Edwin Morgan Archive: A guide for teachers

Teachers and pupils say...

"How versatile it is. The children will love it."

Primary school teacher

"[I learned that poetry] does not have to have words that make sense!"

P6-7 pupil

"Given the size of the body of work and the unusual and interesting range of poems, I will now look beyond the obvious 'classroom classics'."

Secondary school teacher

"Watch out in Morganiana, for you never know when it will rain sibilance or a storm of thundering alliteration will fall. This is a place of true unpredictability, and it pays to listen to any signs of weather change."

S6 student


About Edwin Morgan

The poems of Edwin Morgan have been studied in Scottish schools – and indeed further afield – since the 1970s. This guide lists ways in which the Edwin Morgan Archive can help teachers plan classroom activities around his poems, particularly as part of an English class. But Morgan's broad range of subject matter opens connections to most other areas of the curriculum as well. And although taught mainly at secondary level, many of his poems are suitable for use with older primary classes.

Born in 1920, and first published in the 1950s, Morgan has produced an extensive body of work. Endlessly curious and open-minded, he has experimented with the language of machines as well as translating brilliantly from a variety of European languages. He is a poet who is willing to give a voice to everything around him, whether it is an apple or the Loch Ness Monster, a cancer cell or the mysterious source of the Big Bang.

The Scottish Poetry Library has run many sessions looking at Edwin Morgan's work with primary and secondary school pupils and teachers, and just some of their comments can be read here.


Edwin Morgan Archive online resources

Following these sessions with pupils and teachers, the Scottish Poetry Library has developed eight resources for teachers. Each focuses on a particular poem, with background notes, questions about and prompts for discussing the poem, using the poem as a model or starting-point for pupils' own writing, and further activities linked to other subject areas.

The resources feature some of Morgan's best known poems, such as 'The First Men on Mercury', with related Drama activities; his experimental work, such as the 'emergent' poem 'Message Clear', with related RME discussion and storytelling topics; and more recent work, such as 'James Macfarlan', with related History research.

For teachers and pupils working on a particular poem, the Archive can also give invaluable context to the poem – where and when it was first published, the types of anthologies it has been selected for, as well as the headings it has appeared under, Morgan's own published thoughts on the poem, and what critics, editors and educationalists have written about it.


Other educational resources

Archive resources

The Edwin Morgan Archive also holds audio-visual material featuring Morgan reading and discussing his poems, including broadcast material, commercial, and private recordings.

Anthologies for schools

Morgan's work has long been featured in anthologies for schools, and books aimed at teachers. Further ideas for classroom activities using Morgan's poems can be found in the many educational publications featuring his work which the Archive holds.

For example, 'In the Snack Bar' features in Time To Think: A Teacher's Handbook (STV, 1979); 'The First Men on Mercury' in Meet And Write: A Teaching Anthology of Contemporary Poetry 2 (Hodder and Stoughton, 1987); and 'The Apple's Song' in English Through Topics: Food 5 (Oliver and Boyd, 1993).


Accessing the Archive

Anyone is welcome to visit and use the Edwin Morgan Archive. Workshops and class visits can also be arranged on request.

For more information please contact us.