Scottish Poetry News – November 2018

Radical celebrations of literature, new poetry collections a-plenty and the return of Book Week Scotland feature in this month's spoken word round-up

Feature by Beth Cochrane | 05 Nov 2018
  • Book Week Scotland 2018

There’s plenty of poetry heading your way early this winter, with Iain Morrison kicking things off with his debut collection I’m a Pretty Circler, released on 2 November. Do you like your poetry with a splash of Emily Dickinson, drag culture, experimentalism and heart wrenching intimacy? Whether your answer is yes to just one or all of the above, I’m a Pretty Circler is unquestionably a jewel in the crown of Vagabond Voices’ catalogue.

A second debut collection for recommendation is Mouthguard by musician and poet Sadie Dupuis, published by Seattle-based Gramma Press on 1 November. Dupuis holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is the lyricist for Speedy Ortiz. The collection is one of self-discovery and, as Gramma Press have described, reading it is ‘like crying alone in a movie theatre’ (was the popcorn forgotten?).

Nat Raha is releasing her collection, Of Sirens, Body and Faultlines, via Boiler House Press this month. It’s a ‘book of prophecy against the Brexit era’, and Raha’s consistently explorative and remarkable use of language is sure to shake readers awake. Of Sirens, Body and Faultlines will cohabitate a launch event on 28 November with Harry Josephine Giles’ The Games (check back to September’s round-up for more details). This double launch is being held at Lighthouse, Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop from 7.30pm.

It’s an incredibly busy month for Lighthouse, with its annual Radical Book Fair taking place on 1-4 November at Assembly Roxy. A particularly excellent addition to the programme this year is The Poetry Corner, happening at various intervals on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the Fair. Programmed events will be preceded by some of Scotland’s favourite poetic voices. Starting the weekend off is Jay Whittaker at 6.30pm on the Friday night before the ‘On Being' event on diversity in art and writing. Other poets involved include Claire Askew (3.30pm, 3 Nov), Georgi Gill (3.30pm, 4 Nov) and Carly Brown (5pm, 4 Nov).

Neu! Reekie! has something new up its sleeve for us. They’ve partnered with writer and producer Bréon Rydell to take It Is Easy To Be Dead (a play with music and poetry by Neil McPherson) to the Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen (6-7 Nov) and Glasgow’s Òran Mór (11-14 Nov). It Is Easy To Be Dead is a historical drama which tells the story of much-loved First World War poet Charles Hamilton Sorley. Born in Aberdeen in 1895, Sorley was killed in battle in 1915 aged 20, leaving behind some of the War’s most evocative and ambivalent poetic work. The play remembers Sorley through his letters and poetry, fusing his story with music and song from his era’s greatest composers. A remarkable poet, it’s excellent to see his light shining so brightly in the centenary of WWI.

There is a huge selection of excellent events programmed for Seachdain na Gàidhlig – Edinburgh Gaelic Festival – running 2-10 Nov. One to highlight is Na Balaich Aighearach | Na Buachaillí Aerach at The Waverley on 10 November, 8-10pm. Featuring ‘two gay poets who write in the Gaelic languages of Scotland and Ireland’, it includes the much-loved Marcas Mac an Tuairneir and Scott De Buitléir performing their poetry throughout the evening (fingers crossed for a song or two), with some English explanations/translations for the Irish work.

A key week in the literary calendar is the Scottish Book Trust’s Book Week Scotland, this year running between 19-25 November. There are events running all over the country, celebrating everything Rebel. There’s bound to be plenty of poetry in the extensive programme, so be sure to check out their website and indulge your rebellious side – whatever that may mean to you.