Showing posts with label poets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poets. Show all posts

Friday, 30 September 2022

Edinburgh International book festival 2022 Review

Edinburgh Art college


Celebrates the enduring power of books. 

The bicycle racks are full at the book festival. Its now the second year at its new venue the Edinburgh Art college. With more of its usual buzz, with both in person and online events, there’s better children’s play area with a pirate ship and garden play area, and with more seating. It was a shock last year to move from Charlotte square gardens, where the Edinburgh International book festival took place from 1983 to 2019..

 

This year there were talks both in person and online.

In 2019 there were 900 events and now in 2022 events 600. With more streamlined events as expected less interest – as a result of the cost of accommodation and the pandemic.

 

Talks. At my first talk Edinburgh book festival, Irish writer Fintan O'Toole explored Ireland’s turbulent history from 1958 and whether Ireland might reunite. People wanting change while wanting things stay the same. But if we want things to stay the same things must change! The known and the unknown. 

American author Diana Gabaldon's talk was packed out and what an interesting lady! She was there to promote her 9th book in the Outlander saga - Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. She was emotional when she spoke of working to protect the Gaelic language. 

Noam Chmsky explored the corporate press, and encouraging debate in his book Chronicles of Dissent 

Lea Yi, from Albania, spoke of her book Free, Coming of Age at the end of History.


Diana Gabaldon

Ocean Vuong

Good Grief
Omar Musa


*My EIBF talks included - Diana Gabaldon, Fintan O'Toole, Brian Cox, Oliver Bullough, Lea Yi, Good Grief, Noam Chomsky,

Bigger names – Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Maggie O’Farrell, Irvine Welsh, 

(No talks by historian Tom Devine this year unfortunately.)

 *Music

PJ Harvey, Martha Wainwright, Stuart Cosgrove, 

James Runchie, The story of Bach’s masterpiece

 

*Politics

Imagine a country, Val McDermid & Jo sharp. 

Murray Pittock, Old Scotia Grandeur springs

Yasha Mounk, The Great Experiment

Franks Dikotter, The Rise of a superpower

 

*EIBF encourages us to debate, question, and look for truths, via a wide range of writers from to academics, novelists, historians, journalists, politicians, artists, poets and more. 

Some might claim Edinburgh festivals are not radical enough. But the talks I’ve attended at the book festival this year covered many challenges – freedom in Albania, turbulent Ireland since 1958, challenging debates, and encouraging Scotland language and culture. 

 



**BOOKS

Maggie OFaarrell, The Marriage Portrait

Murray Pittock, Scotland’s stories now, On this day. Part of the year of stories 2022.

Irvine Welsh, The long Knives

Alan Riach – Scottish literature an introduction (Iain banks, Irvine welsh, Alasdair Gray, Hugh MacDiarmid, Dunbar, Robert Garioch, WN Hubert, Burns Scott, Hogg, romanticism marginalized look in.



Sunday, 11 September 2022

Good Grief! At Edinburgh international book festival 2022

 


OmarMusa OceanVuong MichaelPedersen ReubenKaye GemmaCairney

Good Grief! At Edinburgh international book festival 2022

 

At Edinburgh international book festival 2022English broadcaster Gemma Cairney and Scots poet Michael Pedersen hosted a literary salon, a performance showcase celebrating grief in all its forms along with Vietnamese American poet Ocean Vuong, Australian comedian Reuben Kaye and Malaysian-Australian author and poet Omar Musa. 




Thursday, 30 June 2022

Edinburgh Book Festival 2022!



Edinburgh International Book Festival 2022 returns

with 600 events, 550 authors, 50 countries – under the banner “All Together Now”.

 

EIBF returns with a full program this year and hopes to recreate that buzz, after the Lockdowns. To build on the hybrid format developed over two years of pandemic – with live, in-person events also available to steam online.

 

For the first time since 2019, nearly all events will be live on stage in Edinburgh and will add a new venue at Central Hall - a 700+ seat theatre space in the heart of the city and a 5 minute walk from the Festival Village at Edinburgh College of Art.


 EIBF has re-located from its Charlotte square site (since 1982) – to save the 120 trees, the festival has been hurting their roots with the amount of foot fall: this has been an ecological decision. The festival’s new home will be the Edinburgh University Future’s building which will offer both enough indoor and outdoor space and a village green space.

This year the festival takes place at the Edinburgh art college Lauriston place.

 

*EIBF director Nick Barley  - “We’ve learned a great deal since 2019 – the world has changed immeasurably with the pandemic and war in Europe – but we’re also beginning to imagine what a better future should look like. Exploring these issues in inspiring conversations with scientists, historians, poets and novelists is exactly where the book festival comes into its own.

 

Ruby Wax

Nile Rodgers & Irvine Welsh




AUTHORS for 2022 – Ali Smith, Alexander McCall Smith, Julian Barnes.

Nobel peace prize winner Maria Ressa, Outlander Diana Gabaldon, linguist Noam Chomsky, director Armando iannucci. Meg Mason and many more.

FM Nicola sturgeon in conversation with Louise Welsh and Brian Cox (of Succession fame)

 

The festival plans to be more inclusive with Stories and Scarm – for all to tell our own stories, such a Syrian refugees. The festival has been encouraging people from all backgrounds. 


PLUS Val McDermid with her new book 89, which charts Scotland history via a thriller;  Maggie O’Farrell, Hamnet, her new book set in the Medici Renaissance. 

Douglas Stuart, author of Young Mungo, in conversation with Ian Rankin, 

Music – Martha Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Vishti Bunyan, Ricky Ross, Stuart Cosgrove.


Alan Cummings




Also discussions on the role of Europe, impact of war with Ukrainian historian Sarhii Plokky.

**PLUS the large Children’s Book Festival with its

Baillie Gifford program – Julia Donaldson, Cressida Cowell, Michael Morpurgo. And new super heroes, Little Badman and Stunt Boy.

 

'Come together' for conversations with storytellers, musicians, politicians, actors, chefs, illustrators and more this August. Attend live in-person events in Edinburgh or watch events at home, 

**Tickets  https://www.edbookfest.co.uk

 

John Byrne

Ian Rankin


Alexander MacColl Smith


Seamus Heaney

Monday, 30 September 2019

Woman writers at Edinburgh book festival 2019

Octavia is a poetry collective for women of colour founded by Rachel Long in response to the lack of representation in literature and academia. Since 2015, Octavia have read beyond the canon and written themselves on their own terms, coming together every month at the Southbank Centre. 

This event showcases the talents of Rachel Long, Tania Nwachukwu and Hibaq Osman in an hour of poetry.



Mariam Khan, British writer and activist, discussed her book It’s Not About The Burqa, along with poets Nadine Aisha Jassat, and Amna.



Mariam Khan

Mariam Khan, British writer and activist, discussed her book It’s Not About The Burqa, along with poets Nadine Aisha Jassat, and Amna.
Jokha Alharthi

Jokha Alharthi, Omani novelist, first Arabic language writer to win the Man Booker


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Can a Thousand Scotlands Bloom?

This blossoming of artists, musicians, writers since the Scottish parliament opened 1997 (20 years ago) gave us belief back. I used to hear – ‘oh Scots are a nation of scroungers!’ After the 1979 Devolution Vote farce for a hoped for Scottish Parliament, many left Scotland and we felt demoralized, it was a sad time. For centuries Scottish culture has been suppressed and ignored by those Anglicised Scots – those Scots who view themselves as English first, Scottish second.  

In response to Gillian Bowditch and her Sunday Times article, Narrow cultural focus will tie us all to a tartan straight jacket’ where she writes on the author Muriel Spark - Spark wrote of a decidedly small niche of cloistered girls at Gillespie’s secondary school Edinburgh – how is this so deep or rich, compared to say Burns or Irvine Welsh?

How can a thousand Scotland’s bloom when we were taught nothing of our heritage, and culture in Scottish schools until recently….!
I grew up in Edinburgh and walked her historic streets and I wondered about her stories. Meanwhile I learnt of the Tudors, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wilfred Owen,  and American writer Hemmingway at school.

Plockton cottages

In their time Burns, Scott and James MacPherson were internationally famous.
Burns was greatly influenced by both Scots ballads and English poets and he knew four languages, he was not simply a ploughman poet!

The only place I encountered Burns was at Primary school choirs. Burns wrote of nature, love, radical politics, hypocrisy, those conflicts between morality and our wilder passions.




Burns crossed many borders and was both national and international.

We are strongly linked to England and Ireland, but that doesn’t mean Scotland should be ruled by London. We never gave up our Kirk, which was far more important than the politicians in 1707. Burns also wrote the proud Scots songs Scots Wa Hae, and Parcel of Rogues

Scottish historian Tom Devine, in his lecture on the Scottish Enlightenment, spoke of how Scotland has for centuries been an outward-looking, trading nation – many Scots travelled to Poland, Netherlands, France, In fact more outward-looking than an often more insular England. “Scots suffer from “virtual universal historical illiteracy’, says Devine, “ perhaps that’s why they’ve struggled to engage with Referendum campaign."

It is only when we understand our roots, that we can also look outward. 
Yes the old tartan shortbread, White Heather club idea of ‘Scottishness’ of the 60s was so embarrassingly parochial. Surely we have moved on.  Two major Scottish festivals, Celtic Connections and Edinburgh Festival, both embrace their international element. Each August I attend the Edinburgh International Book festival where I see many inspired young Scottish writers of today. 

Edinburgh art galleries
This is also about whether you view empire building or stories of ancient Rome – where you have one group superior to the rest and an exploited underclass. Or you see a more progressive future for Scotland of a more socially integrated, fairer society that is fundamental to the success of our culture, economy and education. A successful small country in a larger European trading block.

pipers at Edinburgh castle

The Scottish nationalist movement is a broad church and not exclusively about the SNP. It was begun by poets such as Hugh MacDiarmid, back in 1939, and the Scottish renaissance of Montrose. MacDiarmid wrote - 
We are both national and international and to forget our rich heritage is a dark, ignorant thing…

skies across from Appelcross
near Loch Ardinning and the Campsie's

Monday, 20 March 2017

Suppression of Scottish Culture - Writers and Artists

Robert Burns statue bottom Leith walk
A recent tv program documented Burns success in American. There are 15 Statues of Burns there, more than to any other writer or musician. Yet in Scotland’s capital, which is covered in unionist statues along its Hanoverian new town streets there is one statue hidden away down the bottom of Leith walk. I was over for the Edinburgh festival and noticed all the George St statues, shockingly there is little on Scotland’s most famous son. 
This happened to the world’s greatest poet who was dismissed as simply a ‘heaven taught ploughman poet’ – when in fact he knew five languages and was a ferocious reader of the classics, philosophers and of the Scottish enlightenment. 

There has been devious, underhand, manipulative moves - not only to ignore the Scottish contributions to the world of the arts, writing, history, and science -.but to whitewash them out of history by those who support the Unionist establishment, the Anglicised Scots of all things English, who see their future in a House of Lords!

**As an example in 1854 the Irish poet Oscar Wilde was born and his mother named him - Oscar Fingal Ossian - ‘Isn’t that grand, misty and Ossianic” she said - yet today who has heard of James MacPherson's Ossian poems? More recently the 1980s there were moves by the English controlled Arts council to close the Scottish National portrait gallery and ignore Scottish art, which was strongly opposed, and thankfully has instead been refurbished and is flourishing today.

Oscar Wilde
This happened in Scotland’s schools where practically no Scottish history was taught until recently – nothing on the Scottish enlightenment, nothing on the great inventions, nothing of great Scottish writers, nothing of the medical inventions.

What I did learn was of Tudor England and of English writers such as Shakespeare, Wilfred Owen and some American writers. My only lessons in Scottish history were a couple of Burns songs with the Primary schools choir – Ca the Knowes, Comin Through the Rye. I was hooked. I feel angry that at school and college in Edinburgh, I learnt of French, American and English writers – but nothing on the great Scottish writers! Hopefully today with Scottish studies at our universities, this has improved in our schools too.

We need to ask - Why have we Scots forgotten? The idea has been to suppress the subordinate cultures such as Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Writers likes Burns and others fought against this in the years after the forced union. I was reading of the origins of Romantic poetry after I picked up a book at the National portrait gallery London on Romantic poets – of the Ossian poems of James MacPherson (read by Napoleon and worldwide), Allan Ramsay, Robert Fergusson, Walter Scott, and of course the unparalleled Robert Burns - there was no mention - the international success of Scottish writers has been suppressed.

A few years ago my son graduated at the Royal college of Surgeons Edinburgh, where I was surprised to learn that we have the oldest centre for medicine in the world! There have also been many great Scottish scientific and medical innovations.


Artist and teacher Alexander Moffat and poet and lecturer Alan Raich, write in their informed book, Arts of Independence –“In most countries in their national galleries, half are devote to International Art and the other half to the Art of that nation itself." This is not the case in Scotland where Glasgow artists have been neglected too, as recently as the 1980s and they had to go to New York for recognition.  

I sat beside an Irish woman at a Celtic Connections concert once and I mentioned the wonderful Irish Writers museum in Dublin and by contrast  the tiny Scottish writers museum in Lady Stairs Close. She wondered, perhaps there are only a few great Scottish writers and she may well wonder….where are they and how are they remembered?


“Scots suffer from “virtual universal historical illiteracy’, says historian Tom Devine, “ perhaps that’s why they’ve struggled to engage with the Referendum campaign." 

I believe it is not only very important, but also time we honoured our great Bard, with a statue of him in St Andrews square (and not the other forgotten tyrant Dundas).
And that we also honoured Fergusson (Burn’s muse), Allan Ramsay and the many recent great Scottish writers along with the manygreatrecent authors with a decent Scottish writers museum.

Nationalism understandings matters – it matters to know and understand our roots, heritage and the stories that inform our nation. To understand the places and streets we walk upon. And not in an exclusive way but an inclusive way.
Hugh MacDiarmid
***The great Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid wrote, “To be truly international, you have to be national to begin with, to see the entire Scotland – and not an Anglo-centric or Anglo-American perspective that dominated media and 20th century cultural analysis.“

“The idea that national self-determination can fuse and ignite art, safeguard its provision, be the ground from which self-knowledge, love of others and the optimism of curiosity grows.”