POETS who try to silence other writers could be written-off by a leading literature body in a battle over no-platforming.

The Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) will consider temporary bans on writers found to be orchestrating online abuse against other creatives in a war of ideas.

Asif Khan, director of the influential Edinburgh institution, told The National some Scottish authors had become suicidal due to social media “pile-ons” aimed at cutting them off from publishers, book festivals and readers over the content of their work or their perceived opinions.

Yesterday the SPL issued a warning to the literary community over attempts to suppress freedom of expression.

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It said: “The Scottish Poetry Library seeks to build and foster a collegiate literature sector. There has been an escalation, particularly on social media, of disharmony, which is creating fractures that aren’t sustainable or healthy in a small country like Scotland. The board and senior management of the library are concerned about poets’ wellbeing, income and working relationships if this atmosphere persists.

“We support freedom of expression. We are a values-led organisation that embraces inclusivity, collaboration and a respect for pluralism – of languages, cultures and faiths.

“What we do not support, and will no longer ignore, is bullying and calls for no-platforming of writers in events programmes and in publishing. This does not mean that we are taking sides in any particular debate but we will not be passive if we are made aware of behaviours within our community that do not align with our values.

“To this effect, we would like to remind all individuals and groups that engagement with our services and projects is contingent on the expected standards of behaviour set out in our code of conduct.

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The move comes after protesters picketed libraries in Canada over events related to women’s rights and transgender issues. Security guards and police were brought in on some occasions.

The SPL move has not been related to any one political or cultural issue.

However, Khan says libraries “seem to be the trenches in this battle” over no-platforming, stating: “We add authenticity because we hold collections of different points of view .

“There have been calls on social media from some writers that other writers should not have a place or platform at literature events. I’m personally aware of some poets that over the past 18 months have been suicidal and their mental health has been affected. Institutions have to say ‘these are the standards of respectable behaviour that we engage with, if it’s not reciprocal then we will take action’. There are processes, but it may include a temporary suspension of engagement with the library.”

Jenny Lindsay, described by Paisley Book Festival as “one of Scotland’s most lauded spoken word poets”, has been the target of no-platform activity for seven months, and been pressured not to book some acts for her Flint and Pitch events over their personal politics.

She said criticism of her output “is not based on reading my work but on rumour, conjecture and guilt by association”.

She said: “It’s an incredibly worrying trend. This isn’t about any political issue, it’s about fighting against censoriousness and a culture where we have all got to be ideologically on the same page. That’s the opposite of what the arts should be.”