Kirsty Logan, Paul McQuade, Carole Jones, Zöe Strachan, George Anderson
Event Review: Kin, Summerhall 09/02/2013
Last week’s British Parliamentary vote to support same-sex marriage in England and Wales perhaps gave an air of positive change to Saturday’s LGBT literary event held in Summerhall’s Dissection Room. Dubbed ‘Kin’ and organised by theatre critic and fiction writer Allan Radcliffe. The afternoon event was hosted by Edinburgh academic Carole Jones and featured readings by Scottish gay and lesbian writers Kirsty Logan, Paul McQuade, Zöe Strachan and Ronald Frame.
The large skylight in this former operation theatre provided a welcome glow for this respectful gathering. Upbeat Jones quipped about the location’s previous corporeal activity: ‘What an appropriate space for an event called Kin’. The four specially commissioned stories fell into two camps of serious and surreal, or ironic and comedic. Kirsty Logan’s ‘Ice Child’ opened with the austere image of a woman giving birth in the snow; abandoned by her family for her bi-sexuality, she is found by a kind couple and adopted by them. In ‘The Impossible Flesh’, Paul McQuade gave a surreal, Frankenstein-like response to the difficulties of gay adoption; in his narrative the medically-savvy couple construct a son of their own.
Unable to attend, Ronald Frame sent an apologetic missive that remarked on changes in social attitude: ‘Things have come a long way in thirty years – well, so they should – and this event today is proof of that’. However, Frame was there in spirit as Edinburgh writer George Anderson capably read ‘Bill and Coo’, an acerbic though patchy story about a shop-keeping lesbian couple who are run out of town. Zöe Strachan closed the programme with ‘Dyke’s Delight ‘, a light-hearted narrative about a new lesbian club. The notion of ‘home’ is inserted near the end as a passerby remarks: ‘What’s that song you young ones dance to in there? We are family. Got to remember that’.
As the natural light faded, the readings gave way to elevated chat about the state of Scotland’s bedrooms (and queer literature). Interesting, though not conclusive, points ensued. Born in the 1980s, Logan commented on how receptive the modern public is to queer literature and how she has yet to encounter obstacles in publication. Strachan commented that the image of homosexuality has been branded as cheerful: ‘It’s as if everyone gay was miserable before 1990, before Graham Norton’. Strachan also made the well-observed point that Scotland has a number of strong lesbian writers, but a visible lack of gay male writers. An alert audience member stated how important it is that gay literature thrives: ‘We are starved of LGBT material’.
Next Saturday 16 February at 3pm, Radcliffe has another dynamic line-up of local writers which includes himself, Mary Paulson-Ellis, Roy Gill and Islay Bell Webb. Expect them to dispel the slight air of trepidation that hung over an otherwise engaging and optimistic part one.