Our new episode of the Scottish Writers’ Centre Podcast is a soul-soothing adventure from one of the SWC’s most enchanting workshops. Grace Banks, talented storyteller, singer, author, and embodiment of gentleness, looked at what can inspire and influence creativity, the art of storytelling, and how each individual has a unique tale to tell.

Those who attended the workshop got to explore different approaches to their own writing, the results of which you’ll hear near the end. There are even some beautifully sung ballads in there too!

Grace works as a storyteller, singer and outdoor-discovery facilitator mainly in and around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. She runs workshops and sessions for adults and/or children. You can reach her on her website at https://silverhaar.com/.

 

If you want to read our interview with Grace, you can find it here, along with our blog post about the event by Rebecca Gaff.

Time is running out for you to be part of our special anthology celebrating ten years of the Scottish Writers’ Centre: midnight on 30th April is the deadline for submissions. We want to use this to help showcase the best contemporary writers in Scotland, so show us what you’ve got and submit your writing here!

This podcast was recorded and produced by Wheezy Whispers.

If you have any questions about future episodes or want to provide some feedback please email info@wheezywhispers.co.uk

The views expressed in this episode do not necessarily represent those of the Scottish Writers’ Centre.

Words by Mark Cunningham and Alastair Millar

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Posted by: scottishwriters | April 16, 2018

SWC Recommends… Spoken Word Nights in Glasgow

As you’ll probably know if you attend our events on a regular basis, the Scottish Writers’ Centre loves a good poetry and spoken word night. Obviously, we’re of the opinion that our own Speakeasies – which feature a wealth of brilliant writing from both our lovely members and the general Glaswegian writing community – are some of the best around, but for those of you who just can’t wait until our next Speakeasy or are looking to explore more of Glasgow’s wonderful literature scene, here are some of the SWC’s recommendations for some of the best spoken word nights in Glasgow!

Read More…

Posted by: scottishwriters | April 10, 2018

Writers’ Reel Episode 7 – Tom Hubbard

For this week’s Writers’ Reel, our 7th episode, I had the pleasure of talking to Tom Hubbard. Tom is an author, poet and literary scholar, who came to the Scottish Writers’ Centre back in January to discuss his latest book “Slavonic Dances”. Tom explores how the clash and blend of cultures can feed creativity and imagination in writing, as in his own work Scottish characters encounter Eastern European ones with varying results, both comic and tragic. We discussed translation, or as he prefers to call it “Trans-creation”, as well as his working methods and how he developed a love of Scottish Literature. Happy viewing!

My apologies for the slightly distorted sound at the beginning of this video, we experienced some problems with the microphone.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcomed below.

Jess, Digital Media Officer

Posted by: scottishwriters | April 9, 2018

SWC Recommends… Three Essential Scots Novels

For me, novels which use Scots language are some of the most authentic, engaging novels around. The following three texts hail from Ayrshire, Lothian and Glasgow respectively, and showcase the variations in our Scottish tongue.

The House with the Green Shutters by George Douglas Brown

The only novel ever published by George Douglas Brown, this 1901 classic is an essential read which, in my opinion, has not received the recognition it deserves.  Angry with what he referred to as the ‘sentimental slop’ which was being written about Scotland at the time, Brown resolved to write a response. The result was this bleak and bloody working class tragedy, which recounts the devastating downfall of the Gourlay family and their house with the green shutters. Set in the fictional village of Barbie in Ayrshire, the Scots dialogue is riveting and Brown’s keen understanding of the complexities of the human condition is second to none. This is one of my favourite novels and I would recommend picking up the 2005 Polygon edition, which has insightful notes, a glossary, and an interesting introduction about Brown written by Dorothy McMillan.

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

In this 2012 debut novel by Jenni Fagan, fifteen year old Anais finds herself covered in blood and accused of a crime she cannot remember committing.  She is sent to the Panopticon – an ex-prison turned care home for challenging teenagers. There she meets other troubled young people who have been disregarded and forgotten by society. This is a brave, uncompromising novel which truly immerses the reader in the life of Anais and her friends.  I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it. Anais is a witty, memorable, and likeable narrator and, despite the difficult themes (Fagan tackles child abuse in a way which is both uncompromising and harrowing), I found myself unable to put the book down, so eager was I to follow Anais’ journey to the end. The novel uses Lothian dialect, intermittently – one criticism I have of Fagan is that that I feel she should have committed to the tongue wholeheartedly. My other concern is that all her characters speak the same regardless of social standing or background. Otherwise, however, this is a fantastic thought-provoking read, which will leave you thinking about its content long after closing the last page.

 

Buddha Da by Anne Donovan

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize and Whitbread First Novel Award, Anne Donovan’s ‘Buddha Da’ is reasonably well-known, however, it’s an essential read, for Donovan’s brilliant and entertaining use of Glasweigan dialect. What is particularly impressive about this novel is how its three narrators – husband and wife, Jimmy and Liz, and their daughter Anne Marie – all have distinct, well-established voices. Otherwise a stereotypical Glasgow dad, Jimmy decides one day to visit the Buddhist Centre. Shortly afterwards, to the derision and annoyance of Liz, he becomes vegetarian and celibate. This light-hearted story is a joy to read, and essential for anyone who enjoys reading stories which fully commit to Glasgweigan dialect.

Words by Claire Kennedy

 

As we said in the last episode, SWC EP 6 is going to be a little bit different. It’s going to be an audio-visual experience!

Before we get going, make sure to listen all the way to the end for an interview with Andrew Smith about the upcoming SWC anthology deadline!

Since our next event is “Short Films for Creatives,” with Lesley Traynor of Fierce Poetry in Motion on Tuesday 10th April 2018, this week’s cast is a recording from last year’s event, “Poetry In Motion: Sharing And Discussing Poetry Films” in this episode.

Throughout this episode, you’ll hear the film being introduced as normal. There will be a pause…where you’re free to pause the podcast, watch the film in question and then come back to the podcast to hear what was discussed!

You can follow Fierce Poetry in Motion on Twitter @motionpoets or contact them via email: fiercepoetrymotion@gmail.com. Their Vimeo account with all of the films featured is: https://vimeo.com/user74893934 .

Films In Order Of Appearance:

1 ) Lesley Traynor – ‘Thrawn’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHDYfOpavN8

2 ) Katharine Macfarlane – ‘St Enoch’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcKmdBBKlVY

3 ) Max Scratchmann – ‘Corridors of Dreams’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0Mr6EDQSpQ

4) Stephen Watt – ‘Slow Dancing in the Kitchen’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJnDo0r_Wp8

5 ) Angela Hughes – ‘The Heart That Beats Within Me’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYDebxz7CFA

6 ) Carla Woodburn – ‘Armageddon’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-MbtkNz8UU

7 ) Donal McLaughlin – [new trees!] haiku
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aboPrh6VDp4

8 ) Janet Crawford – ‘Beacon’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0NREGmrMMA

9 ) Savannah Dodd – ‘Glasses’*
https://vimeo.com/244250646

10 ) Sabina England – ‘Deaf Brown Gurl’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvu7BWSmoO0

*This film does contain strong references to sexual violence.

We hope you enjoy the films and their discussions. Listen on!

If you want more on this event then check out Rebecca Gaff’s wonderful blog: https://scottishwriters.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/fierce-poetry-in-motion/

This podcast was recorded and produced by Wheezy Whispers.

If you have any questions about future episodes or want to provide some feedback please email info@wheezywhispers.co.uk

The views expressed in this episode do not necessarily represent those of the Scottish Writers’ Centre.

Posted by: scottishwriters | April 2, 2018

SWC Recommends… Scottish Classics To Rediscover

Here at the Scottish Writers’ Centre, we love Scottish literature of all kinds. New or old, fiction or poetry, lyrical or straight to the point. But new writing certainly – and deservedly – gets a lot of attention on our blog, so today we are celebrating Scottish classics. Read on to find out some of our favourites…

Read More…

Posted by: scottishwriters | March 27, 2018

Writers’ Reel Episode 6 – Jean Rafferty

This evening’s instalment of Writers’ Reel features the fascinating Jean Rafferty. Jean is an award winning journalist turned fiction author, who came to the SWC in December 2017 to deliver her event “The Dark Side of Reality”. We discussed how she is drawn to disturbing subject matter that some writers may shy away from, both in her factual and fictional works. Jean goes on to talk about the various responses she has received to her work, and the difficulties she has faced when writing about subjects such as satanist abuse. if you’re interested in writing which is fictional but rooted in the truth, this one is worth a watch.

I would be delighted to read your responses and comments in the section below

Jess, Digital Media Officer

Posted by: scottishwriters | March 26, 2018

SWC Goes… to Aye Write!

Aye Write! is sadly finished for 2018. But two of SWC’s volunteers, Rachel Walker and Claire Kennedy, were lucky enough to go along to several of this year’s fantastic events – you can find their thoughts about the events below. And if you’re still craving some literary magic, then we hope you’ll join us tomorrow at the Club Room in the CCA for our speakeasy in collaboration with New Writing Showcase. We can’t wait!

Writing Television Drama Workshop

For me, one of the best parts of Aye Write! is the workshops where successful writers have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with budding writers. Faced with the daunting task of writing a television adaptation as part of my university course, I decided to attend the ‘Writing Television Drama Workshop’ at the Mitchell Library, hosted by Ann Marie De Mambro and Chris Dolan. Both teach on the MA Television Fiction Writing course run by Glasgow Caledonian University. De Mambro is a prolific playwright and television screenwriter, who has written for countless TV dramas and soaps including Take the High Road, Eastenders and Casualty. Dolan is a successful novelist, poet and playwright. Both are extremely warm and approachable and offered an engaging and entertaining workshop which was accessible to everyone, from those just starting out in screenwriting to writers with a little more experience looking to brush up on their skills.

After an introduction by Dolan, De Mambro took over the running of the session. She asked attendees to pick headings from a hat (‘character’, ‘dialogue’, ‘Eastenders‘ and so on) to decide the order in which she would cover topics. De Mambro is a vivacious speaker who spoke honestly about her experience writing for television. Within the hour and a half a lot of ground was covered, from the essentials to writing dramatic dialogue and developing characters, to the roles within the writing team of soaps like Eastenders.

Suitably she finished with her invaluable top ten tips for writing for television. At the end of the session, De Mambro and Dolan offered attendees the chance to approach them with any questions they may have about screenwriting in general or their much esteemed MA Television Fiction Writing course. The workshop succeeded my expectations: not only did I leave with much more confidence and knowledge about writing for television than I could have hoped to have gained in one session, it appears a little of De Mambro’s passion for the craft has rubbed off on me, as I now consider screen writing a possible avenue my writing may take in future.

aye-write-beige

Graeme Macrae Burnet – Accident on the A35

As the author of the Man Booker shortlisted His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet’s event was attended by a large and enthusiastic audience – one member even whistled as Burnet took the stage, to the author’s modest claim that that doesn’t usually happen! Hosted at the Mitchell Library, where Burnet writes his novels, the event launched the paperback edition of the second instalment in the Inspector Georges Gorski trilogy, Accident on the A35. Following on from the highly accomplished, The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, the novel centres on seventeen-year-old Raymond Barthelme as he embarks on his own investigation to solve the mystery of the whereabouts on the night of his fatal accident on the A35. Meanwhile, the official investigator of the case, Gorski, experiences highs and lows, having been recently left by his wife Céline with his daughter in tow. Burnet claims that he set himself the challenge to write ‘a crime novel without a crime,’ and described it as the most challenging of his books to write to date. Burnet is an engaging, charismatic speaker, and his conversation with Chris Dolan was littered with humour, honesty and intriguing insights. As an audience we learned that Burnet was surprised about the similarities between his novels (particularly the recurrence of seventeen year old males – ‘I’ve written the same book!’) and sees character Manfred Baumann (Disappearance of Adele Bedeau) as an exaggerated version of himself. Burnet also talked in depth about his admiration for author Georges Simenon, and recounted a humorous conversation he had with the author’s son, John, where John corrected Burnet’s own opinion of the true nature of fictional detective Jules Maigret. The audience had some intriguing and well-thought out questions for Burnet. Notably, one woman praised Burnet for including confident and self-assured female characters in his novels, such as Gorski’s wife Céline, and asked whether it is Burnet’s deliberate intention to write such characters? Burnet replied that when writing female characters, he aims to suggest that there is more to the woman than perhaps the male characters are aware of, and that despite giving Céline a hard time in his Gorski novels, he actually really likes her. Burnet confessed that he experienced crippling self-doubt whilst writing the Accident on the A35, however, judging by the rapturous applause he received and the endless queue of fans waiting to have copies signed by him, it is clear that Burnet needn’t have worried. Aside from his fantastic writing and speaking, Burnet is also notable for his memorable modesty and kindness. Taking the time to talk to every single fan who approached him with a book to sign, Burnet answered questions and even asked fans questions about themselves (for example, in my case, Burnet asked me about my own writing and was very forthcoming with advice). His return to festivals like Aye Write! in future, with a new addition to his already accomplished literary career, will certainly be hotly anticipated.

Claire Kennedy

Tessa Dunlop – The Century Girls

The 100th anniversary of (some) women gaining the vote in the UK has produced a multiplicity of fascinating new books celebrating, commemorating and pondering over the past and future of feminism. And Tessa Dunlop’s The Century Girls – which charts the lives of six British women, all of whom are either past or approaching their 100th birthday – is one of the best. With a cast of geographically, economically and professionally diverse women, the book aims to investigate the themes that have characterised women’s lives over the past century, as well as exploring the lives of six extremely remarkable women. The subject matter is covered deftly and amusingly, as Dunlop provides a quick introduction to the six Century Girls and their varied lives, before launching into a wide-ranging sketch of some of her favourite discoveries. Dunlop is dynamic and engaging in person, and the inclusion of Century Girl Phyllis is an inspired idea. A lovely way to spend an evening – although there’s no denying that Phyllis, with her wit and verve, gained the biggest laughs of the night.

-Rachel Walker

Posted by: scottishwriters | March 22, 2018

Ten Poems (Possibly) Impossible to Write: with Richard Robbins

To quote John Berryman, as remembered by Philip Levine: “You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise you’re merely imitating yourself.” This was the point of departure for American poet Richard Robbins, who we had the pleasure to host at the Scottish Writers’ Centre on the 13th of February. How can we push beyond the boundaries of the impossible in poetry?

IMG_9206

To commemorate our 10th anniversary, Robbins chose ten poems by other poets, including William Stafford, Louise Bogan and Philip Larkin, to demonstrate how each poem achieved the ‘impossible’. Marked by an X on the page, Robbins pinpointed exactly where each poem takes a turn from the comfortable and moves away from the familiar trajectory of epiphany, revealing each poem’s ground-breaking potential.

While Robbins admits that such an exercise is ‘presumptuous’, to deconstruct a poem in this way can be instructive and help inspire a poet to breathe new life into their work. While so much academic discourse is pessimistic in tone, focussing on the futility of language itself, Robbins turns away from this familiar trope and demonstrates that language still has the capacity to create something unique and powerful, if the poet dares to step out of their comfort zone.

Words by Rebecca Gaff

Photos by Clare Patterson

 

This episode of the Scottish Writers’ Centre Podcast brings all the joy of last year’s nEW wRITINGS sHOWCASE, in partnership with Glasgow University, straight to your ears! A whole array of talented writers took to the podium for some of the best readings we’ve ever heard. Dealing with themes ranging from love and death to technocracy and the monotony of labour, these works show off some of the most exceptional writers you’ll ever hear. Listen on!

As a heads up, this episode does contain some strong language and reference to sexual violence.

Readers in order of appearance:
Derek Parkes, Ann MacKinnon, Phil Thomas, Mark Haw, Elaine Gallagher, Cailean McBride, Colette O’Connor, Jill Korn, Rachel Tennant, Elissa Soave, Sean Wai Keung, Gabe Cohen, Chris Powici, Mary Irvine, Laura Tansley, Maria Sledmere

 

 

You can keep up to date with all of the news from the Scottish Writers’ Centre via their website: https://scottishwriters.wordpress.com/

Thank you to the team at the SWC for their contribution and help with coordinating this podcast series.

This podcast was recorded and produced by Wheezy Whispers.

If you have any questions about future episodes or want to provide some feedback please email info@wheezywhispers.co.uk

The views expressed in this episode do not necessarily represent those of the Scottish Writers’ Centre.

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