AT first, I was sceptical.

Could it be true? That events centred on poetry were attracting enthusiastic young audiences to venues in Edinburgh and Glasgow? Moreover, that the poetry itself was funny, smart, moving, essential? Wasn't poetry dead? I was going to have to see this - or rather, hear it - for myself.

Well, I went, I saw and I was conquered by the spoken-word performances at events such as Neu! Reekie!, which mixes verse with music and animated films; Rally & Broad - a "poetry cabaret" where experienced voices like Liz Lochhead and Tom Leonard share a stage with rising stars; and Inky Fingers, which holds open mic nights where novices can join in.

So when I was asked to run new imprint Vagabond Poets my first thought was to publish an anthology that would showcase this burgeoning talent. Be The First To Like This: New Scottish Poetry is the result.

Poetry is one of Scotland's chief exports and luminaries such as Kathleen Jamie and Douglas Dunn have taken Scottish ideas and values around the world. Twenty years ago, Donny O'Rourke's landmark Dream State: The New Scottish Poets brought together an extraordinary generation of Scottish poets including Carol Ann Duffy, Don Paterson and John Burnside. As communications manager at the Scottish Poetry Library, I have met so many impressive new poets that I thought the time was right for an update.

The last time Scotland witnessed a similar proliferation of poetry events took place against the backdrop of another big vote on the country's future: the devolution campaign in the late 1970s. Today's new poetry may not always be directly political, but it is confident, optimistic, and certain that what it has to say should be listened to. And as the critic Cairns Craig wrote recently, "[In Scotland] where poetry leads, politics follows".

If you want to know what it's like to be alive in Scotland today, read Be The First To Like This. The work ranges from the elegantly formal to the wildly experimental, from the ordinary to the cosmic ... sometimes in one poem, as with the following piece by Niall Campbell, winner of the inaugural Edwin Morgan Award, the UK's largest poetry prize:

The Tear In The Sack

A nocturnal bird, say a nightjar,

cocking its head in the silence

of a few deflowering trees,

witnesses more than we do

the parallels.

Its twin perspective;

seeing with one eye the sack-

grain spilled on the roadway dirt,

and with the other, the scattered stars,

their chance positioning in the dark.

Whereas a novel can take at least a year to write and another to be published, poems can be written and shared quickly through live performance and over the internet.

For this, the first generation of poets who are digital natives, the internet provides not only a way to share work, but a subject, too. Look at McGuire's Delta Phos b, a Beat-inflected panic-storm about the effect of online pornography on the mind (Delta Phos b. is a brain protein involved in fostering addiction):

"Great unconscious shadow/ of internet search engine./ Every dark thought Googled/ in secret vaults of shame./ We drink from you, endless,/ fountain of perversion,/ attached inescapably to wifi's connectivity./ What has been seen cannot be unseen."

Most of the featured poets are under 40, and all are near the start of their writing careers.

Theresa Munoz's title poem, Be The First To Like This, references the fact many of the featured poets will be unfamiliar to the public (although not for long, I wager), but also nods towards social media, the way we communicate now. That "nowness" excites me.

Odes to peaty landscapes and mythological characters are fine (although arguably overdone), but what grab my attention are poems that map the moments that taken together comprise the landscape of our lives today. Michael Pedersen's Jobseeker begins as a sardonic treatment of a trip to the job centre only to turn on a question that catches out the poet. Neil, a factotum assessing the poet's claim, asks:

"Is there anyone under your care/ or who cares for you, on a full-time/ or part-time basis?/ At this point I crumble./ Neil has broken me./ Would I be here if there was?"

Subjects range from internet dating (Tracey S Rosenberg's Meeting A Guy Off The Internet) to disability (Nuala Watt's Eye Test); from travel (Janette Ayachi's Airports) to sport (Angela Cleland's Cross).

The poems take many forms. Patricia Ace's The Clangers on Acid is a narrative that reads like Martin Amis's Dead Babies reduced to 30 lines. nick-e melville's CU TS is a found poem, taken from party manifestoes, which critiques the language of the era of austerity.

There are science-fiction poems (Vicki Husband's Jean's Theory Of Everything, former astronomer Pippa Goldschmidt's The Ballad Of The Everlasting Gene). Going backwards in time, MacGillivray relocates Ossian to the Wild West (Photograph Of Spotted Elk). For reasons I can't quite fathom, pigeons make repeated appearances (Lorna Callery's Pigeon With Warburtons, Samuel Tongue's On A Carrier Pigeon Found Dead In A Chimney).

Like previous generations, these poets have to fit their writing around jobs and family lives. Some are full-time parents, many teach creative writing - or in Patricia Ace's case, yoga. Others are writers-in-residence, sometimes in offbeat places. nick-e melville was recently writer-in-residence at Her Majesty's Prisons, Edinburgh; Lorna Callery is learning centre manager at Cornton Vale.

Of the 38 writers included in the collection, 24 are women (just nine of Dream State's 25 featured poets were female). And almost half were born outside Scotland. While three decades ago, the debate over who could be considered Scottish was a prickly, contested affair, today it would seem odd to leave out a poet such as New Jersey-born JL Williams, a Scottish resident since 2001 and UK citizen since 2008. Scottish poetry would be diminished without the presence of writers originally from England, Ireland, North America, Mexico, Israel, who have expanded, not diluted, our sense of the country we all call home. As Williams puts it in her poem All Water:

"We/ are mostly water and all water/ is a thing that seeks a home but has no home/ except that carved in earth by seeking."

Be The First To Like This, published by Vagabond Poets, is launched in Edinburgh this Thursday at the Scottish Poetry Library and in Glasgow's CCA on Wednesday, October 29