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A Redoubling of Life: Allan Massie and Crisis

June 14, 2012

‘A Redoubling of Life’: Allan Massie and Crisis ITexts, violence and the Shirra In 2002 I alienated influential people by attacking the Edinburgh Book Festival, the first and now biggest of several such hoolies which descend on Scots towns – Melrose, Wigtown, etc. For such lese-majesté – pointing...

Underword: National Flash Fiction Day: 16/05/12

May 17, 2012

It’s claimed that Hemingway once described a six word story (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”) as the best thing he ever wrote, but such concise short stories have seldom gained recognition as a valid, fun literary form. This is one reason for the inaugural national Flash Fiction Day, which...

Brave New Words (4/4/12)

April 5, 2012

There were warnings in the Edinburgh International Science Festival’s programme that Brave New Words might “contain rocket science, brain surgery and assorted nuts”. In reality, this evening of spoken word performance from the capital’s premier purveyors of the weird opted instead for — among...

Friday at StAnza

March 17, 2012

Friday at StAnza was filled with bouts of rain, sun and a thin rainbow that hovered over the beach. In the morning’s Border Crossings event, Irish Gaelic poet Rody Gormon and Swedish poet Boel Schenlaer read to an attentive and appreciative crowd. Schelner’s evocative poems about her home country...

The StAnza Lecture: Lavinia Greenlaw

March 16, 2012

Studying poetry is an ‘education into argument’ says celebrated bard Lavinia Greenlaw in her lecture ‘A Good Argument’. To a sold-out venue in St. Andrew’s Town Hall on a mild afternoon, the East Anglia lecturer discussed how poets create argument through exploring emotional tension....

Hit & Run, by Doug Johnstone

March 6, 2012

Doug Johnstone thinks about car crashes. Not because he crashed his parents’ car when he was 18 — too biographical an explanation — but because he finds their life-changing nature fascinating. In his previous novel, Smokeheads, a car accident is the pivotal moment when a thoughtful Sideways-style...

Illicit Ink: When Words Collide (04/03/2012)

March 5, 2012

With most of us living beneath urban light-polluted skies, in which only the brightest stars (and the International Space Station) can sometimes be seen, it’s a rare thing that makes us contemplate the vastness of the cosmos. Arguably, it was therefore (somewhat) portentous that the night before Edinburgh...

Margins: Thriller: Fizgerald/Johnstone (25/02/12)

February 26, 2012

“What is it with you and car crashes?” asks an informed audience member of Doug Johnstone, after he has read from the opening chapter of his new novel, Hit & Run. It’s a fair question, given how they’ve featured prominently in his much of his past work, most particularly the pivotal plot-turning...

Margins: A Thousand Cranes (25/02/12)

February 26, 2012

It is coming up to a year since the horrendous earthquake and tsunami struck Japan; as a result, it has effectively slipped off the world’s news agenda, despite the very real affects it continues to have on the lives of millions of people around the world. So, even though the Festival’s organisers...

Margins: Scottish Writing Then & Now (25/02/12)

February 26, 2012

With its indie-music ethos, one of the defining characteristics of the Margins Book and Music Festival is its bringing together of established and up-and-coming talent. This year, there was possibly no better example of this than an afternoon’s teaming up of the award-winning and much loved author...