Translation Transformed conference in Moffat, south Scotland 20-22 Sept 2013
By Elizabeth Roberts,...
Julie Davidson has enjoyed an eclectic career as a journalist, writing for the Scotsman and the Herald as well as various London- based newspapers. Looking for Mrs Livingstone, her first book, was shortlisted for the Saltire Society’s Scottish Book of the Year.
Joseph Farrell was Professor of Italian at Strathclyde University. He has translated and written a number of books, including a biography of Dario Fo. His latest book is about Sicily.
Rosemary Goring is literary editor of the Herald and the Sunday Herald. She is the author of Scotland: The Autobiography, an anthology covering 2,000 years of Scottish history. Her first novel, After Flodden, was published earlier this year.
Kevin McKenna is a journalist who writes a weekly column for the Observer. He has had many previous incarnations, including stints at the Celtic View, Scotland on Sunday, the Scotsman and the Herald.
Nicholas Major is originally from Bangor, Wales. He is studying for an MSc in English Literature and Modernity at Edinburgh University. He has several literary projects in gestation, including a collection of short stories satirising food culture.
Brian Morton is a writer, broadcaster and journalist whose interests and expertise range from jazz to ornithology. In the past few years he has written books on Prince, Shostakovich and Edgar Allan Poe.
Jennie Renton runs – with her husband Richard Browne – Main Point Books in Bread Street, Edinburgh, in the heart of ‘the pubic triangle’. She was editor of the Scottish Book Collector and now edits the online magazine Textualities.
CK Stead is one of New Zealand’s foremost literary figures. A distinguished poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist and emeritus professor of English of the University of Auckland, he has been a figure in New Zealand’s literary landscape since the 1950s and is the only living writer to hold the Order of New Zealand.
Zoe Strachan grew up in Kilmarnock and attended Glasgow University when she studied archaeology and philosophy. Her first novel was Negative Space. Others include Spin Cycle and Ever Fallen in Love. The latter was shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards and the Green Carnation Prize and nominated for the London Book Awards. She teaches creative writing at the University of Glasgow.
Alice Thompson is a novelist and lecturer in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh. Her first novel, Justine, was joint winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. Her most recent is Burnt Island.
David Torrance is the author of The Battle for Britain: Scotland and the Independence Referendum (Biteback, 2013). His previous books include biographies of David Steel and Alex Salmond.
Colin Waters, from Bonnyrigg, attended the University of St Andrews. Formerly deputy editor of the Scottish Review of Books, he now works at the Scottish Poetry Library.
Gordon Wright is a guitarist, photographer and publisher who once co-owned a body-building business in Portobello and dated beauty queens. His memoir, A Great Idea At the Time, is the first part of a trilogy.
Translation Transformed conference in Moffat, south Scotland 20-22 Sept 2013
By Elizabeth Roberts,...
I will wear your tartan
With the pride and strength
Of my history and tribe.
I will weave in its pattern
The breadth and length
Of five rivers that subscribed
To my wealth, which I will now
Lend to your tartan
and make it mine.
‘Tartan and Turban’ by Bashabi Fraser...
In October, the Scottish Poetry Library will launch Lugs Tae Arthurs Seat, Scotland’s smallest festival. It will feature live music by Wounded Knee, poetry, food and the great outdoors, and will take place at the top of Arthurs Seat.
Every year the Edinburgh Festival gets bigger, but this October, the Scottish Poetry Library continues to reinvent the poetry reading with Lugs Tae Arthurs Seat. Over the past year, the SPL has organised events pairing poetry with perfume at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and a webcast that linked a reading by Kathleen Jamie in Edinburgh and Jen Hadfield in Shetland....
September, 2013 – The Scottish Poetry Library marks National Poetry Day (October 3rd) with readings by a double bill of poets from New Zealand.
National Poetry Day 2013 will culminate in a joint reading by C.K. Stead and Kapka Kassabova. Celebrated author of poetry, novels and memoir, C.K. Stead has published over 40 books and has as many awards to match. Stead is joined by poet, novelist and tango enthusiast Kapka Kassabova, who was born in Bulgaria, began her writing career in New Zealand, and lives in the Scottish Highlands. Poetry doesn’t recognise boundaries and although the day is billed as National Poetry Day, the appearance of two NZ poets at the SPL testifies to poetry’s ability to travel beyond borders....
Such are the wonders of modern technology, that I was able to use my phone to read Gavin Hewitt’s latest BBC post on Europe outside the Baillie Gifford Theatre before listening to the man himself inside it. The BBC post concerns the recent .3% growth in the Eurozone with Hewitt briefly breaking it down by country – Germany and France strengthening/Greece, Italy, Spain still struggling. From this he draws a fairly obvious conclusion: ‘Confidence in the Euro and the wider European project depends on being able to deliver jobs’.
As it turns out, close-structure, balance and fairly obvious conclusions are Hewitt hallmarks. His lecture began with the issue of youth unemployment in Europe and a series of dire, country-by-country, statistics. He then returned to the early days of Euro-profligacy to remind us of the great building boom in Spain (which resulted, for instance in the building of airports that had no airplanes); Ireland throwing up houses with 300,000 of them never occupied; Greece following the Onassis advice ‘If you borrow, borrow big’. Hewitt examined the origins of the EU project: its attempt to balance German power, the fudging of its own deficit rules to ensure that Italy and Greece got in, the romance of the project against the practical problems of making it work. Eventually, the lecture melded seamlessly with the BBC post and the discovery of ‘some green shoots’. Hewitt concluded that ‘Europe is in a period of profound change and upheaval’ which didn’t have anyone jumping out of their seats....
Anais Hendricks is the fifteen year old protagonist in Jenni Fagan’s debut novel. Anais is not the only name she has had, but it is the one she currently goes by. It was given to her by her prostitute foster mother and reinforces her dream of living in Paris where, like Anais Nin, she would adopt a bohemian lifestyle....
Scottish Poetry Library and Aye Write! join forces
The Future, Al Gore (WH Allen £25)
Eight years ago someone asked Al Gore ‘What are the drivers of global change?’ He listed what he calls ‘the usual suspects’ but subsequently decided that the question deserved closer attention than he had given it. The Future is his considered response and at 558 pages including 154 pages of endnotes, nobody can say he hasn’t put in the time....
Lesley Duncan and Alan Riach (eds), The Smeddum Test, 21st Century Poems in Scots: The McCash Anthology 2003-2012 (Kennedy & Boyd £12.95)
The Glasgow University McCash endowment established an annual Scots poetry competition in 1973 and this anthology showcases some of the best entries from the last ten years. In some of those years a theme was set. In 2012 it was Thomas Campbell’s ‘The Pleasures of Hope’....
Britain’s Last Frontier: A Journey Along the Highland Line, Alistair Moffat (Birlinn £17.99)
Alistair Moffat’s latest idea is to imagine his way along the Highland Line, exploring history, geography, geology, language and culture as he goes. It is a meander on both sides of the line and across disciplines and time. Unfortunately, an introduction by James Naughtie is not a particularly helpful send off. He seems more concerned with making the case for North East Scotland’s exceptionalism (his own village in particular) than setting up Moffat’s potentially fascinating quest....
Ronald Frame in conversation with Adrian Searle
Ronald Frame eschews the uniform of the contemporary male Scottish writer: untucked shirt, jeans and sannies. Instead, it’s Harris Tweed, pressed trousers and polished brogues. He’s a bit Richard Fordish or maybe a woolly Simenon, sans specs and pipe. The only blemish in an otherwise immaculate ensemble is that the sleeves of his jacket are a tad long. He’s wee....
The end of the political conference season is a good a time to have a belated look at David Torrance’s edited ‘Great Scottish Speeches’, republished in paperback earlier this year. Torrance put the collection together by taking suggestions from Facebook and then adding a few favourite speeches of his own.
Even though it has a precedent in ‘Great Irish Speeches’, ‘Great Scottish Speeches’ is a tri-loaded title by any standards. Torrance uses the early part of his introduction to deconstruct it. A speech ‘is any piece or oratory that sources confirmed had been delivered by its author’ which can be anywhere from a paragraph to several pages in length. ‘Great’ is judged primarily on content though coherence, argument, brevity, delivery and moment should also be taken into consideration. ‘Scottish’ is a speech made by anyone in Scotland or a Scot anywhere else. Mercifully, ‘Scot’ remains undefined....
A month back I posted a piece bemoaning the fact that no Scot had won the Booker Prize since James Kelman in 1994. It came as a bit of a surprise, then, when this morning’s twitter crowing seemed to suggest that this year’s prize had been won by Scotland’s very own Ewan Morrison for ‘Tales from the Mall’, especially as I don’t remember him being on the short list and the Booker announcement isn’t due until later today.
Closer inspection of my tiny Blackberry screen revealed that it is not the Booker Prize that Morrison has won but ‘Not the Booker Prize’, a ‘dubious and coveted honour’ organized by The Guardian. Morrison effectively hammered the opposition with the silver medal going to a book called ‘Pig Iron’ and the bronze to an author called ‘Ironmonger’. But as it turns out, it is Oor Ewan who will have to show his mettle....
Andy Coogan is Sir Chris Hoy’s great-uncle, but you will find no mention of that in this remarkable book. Judging by the way Coogan presents himself, he is far too humble to play on such a lofty association.
In fact, Coogan is a somewhat reluctant memorialist. At 95 he is just telling his story now, inhibited in earlier years by the possibility that he might offend family and friends. He even seems concerned about an undertaking he signed with the British Government at the end of Word War Two not to talk about his imprisonment or what he saw of the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki....
A rather dense looking book on railways wouldn’t normally recommend itself for review especially as I don’t know a BRCW Type 2 from an A3 Pacific. However, I make an exception for David Spaven’s Waverley Route: the life death and rebirth of the Borders Railway.
I was a youngster in Galashiels when the Waverley line closed in 1969 on the back of the Beeching Report. At the time, I didn’t see that much to be concerned about. My friends and I would no longer be placing coins on the track to see how trains distorted them. On the other hand, nobody had to put an ear to the rail and listen for approaching trains before we passed through the Torwoodlee tunnel in search of more productive fishing spots....
Read Ian Jack 'What is true Scot'? here
There are no Scots on the 2012 Man Booker Prize shortlist. This is hardly a surprise given that there weren't any on the longlist either. Cue the usual complaints, though Irvine Welsh set the hares running even earlier than usual this year by declaring the Booker “highly imperialist orientated” during a session at EIBF. A ‘rudimentary grasp of sixth form sociology’ is all you need, he said, to refute the Booker’s claim that it is non-discriminatory. But statistics work too according to an ‘open letter’ I just read directed originally to Professor Louise Richardson, Principal of St. Andrews University.
A strange letter in some ways, it starts by pointing out that only one Scot has won the Booker and five made the shortlist since 1969 but grants that Scots are a ‘negligible 0.2% of the population of the Commonwealth’ and this may be seen as ‘an over-representation of Scotland.’ The English, however, are over-over represented with 24 winners while ‘England accounts for a paltry 2.5% of the population of the Commonwealth’....