An intriguing post at Central Station describes “the recent spate of mysterious paper sculptures appearing around” Edinburgh:

One day in March, staff at the Scottish Poetry Library came across a wonderful creation, left anonymously on a table in the library. Carved from paper, mounted on a book and with a tag addressed to @byleaveswelive – the library’s Twitter account – reading:

It started with your name @byleaveswelive and became a tree.…
… We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books… a book is so much more than pages full of words.…
This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas….. a gesture (poetic maybe?)

Next to the ‘poetree’ sat a paper egg lined with gold and a scatter of words which, when put together, make “A Trace of Wings” by Edwin Morgan.

Other similar gifts began appearing at other libraries with amazingly elaborate paper sculptures, all illustrated on the webpage. One of them includes a copy of James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner so exactly like mine I had to check my shelf to make sure nobody’d absconded with it for their art project. At any rate, I recommend both the webpage (for which I thank Paul) and the Hogg novel (for which I thank my old friend Tony, who pressed it on me when I was visiting him at East Village Books).


  1. By God, yes, everyone should read the Hogg: shiver-making.

  2. Maybe it’s me but I can’t get this thing up.

  3. (I mean the blog with the paper sculptures pictures.)

  4. The paper sculptures are wonderful!

  5. It takes a while to load, Kron. Exercise patience. Go walk the goats while it’s loading. It’s worth the wait.

  6. “Maybe it’s me but I can’t get this thing up.”: och, he’s just soliciting smutty remarks.

  7. (I had to look up what “smutty” means… Shame on you, for what I thought afterwards!)

  8. Oh! Yes, they’re lovely! – and a lot of fun to make too, as my wife said. It’s probably one of the women who work for the Edinburgh libraries, who were interviewed, who’s made them; it looks like a woman’s handwriting to me.

  9. @Krone, they bought better hosting now so you can read it without goats, and also there’s been a lot of updates since 2011-09-18 — 11 sculptures found out of 10.

  10. John Cowan says

    Confessions of a Justified Sinner

    It occurred to me that this might be a bilingual pun: English justified ‘righteous in the eyes of God’ (older than the secular sense ‘supported by reason or evidence’ that now dominates) vs. Scots id. ‘punished’ > ‘hanged, executed’ (now only literary). My suspicions were strengthened when I looked up James Hogg and saw that he was a Border Scot.

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