Scottish Poetry News: August 2019

A guide to the poetry publications, events and happenings on the way in August

Feature by Beth Cochrane | 31 Jul 2019
  • Category Is Books, Glasgow

There’s a chock-a-block programme of spoken word and poetry events happening at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Go ahead and enjoy riffling through the programme to find out more, but, for now, let’s focus on the high quality work that’s happening elsewhere in the country.

Picador release Jericho Brown’s new collection, The Tradition, on 8 August. It’s Brown’s second collection to come out in the UK and has been described as daring in both form and content. A particular point of note is Brown’s inclusion of his newly devised poetic form: the duplex. Brown has combined the sonnet, the ghazal and the blues to create what he calls a ‘mutt’ of form. In a guest blog for, he notes he decided to name it such as to him it felt like 'a house with two addresses', and that it's only now many in this nation are 'empowered to live fully in all of our identities'. The collection explores fatherhood and queerness, worship and trauma, and much more besides.

Kei Miller is launching In Nearby Bushes with Carcanet on 29 August. The poet has won an astonishing number of prizes for his poetry, novel and essays, including the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2017 and the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, to pluck two from the immense list. In Nearby Bushes is only teasing audiences pre-publication, with little account of its content available before the launch date. It may be a collection whose joy lies in its strangeness; set in a placeless place, the landscape is ‘as much marked by magic as it is by murder’.

Moving away from the placeless place and into a community which is very much flourishing, the Govanhill International Festival and Carnival is back for its third year, 1-11 Aug. The programme is vibrant with all sorts of events, from the Transylvanian Ceilidh to Play in a Day, a workshop where, you guessed it, the group will devise a play in a day. The Govanhill Book Festival will be taking place across the final three days of the festival, with an impressive range of events in its programme. In what promises to be an absolute highlight of the festival, Category Is, Scotland’s only LGBT bookshop, will present an unmissable line-up of Glasgow’s up-and-coming queer writers. Taking place on 10 Aug, 1-2.30pm in The Deep End, there will be a mix of short fiction and poetry readings. With this being a free event (although donations welcome) you really have no excuse not to go.

In Aberdeen, monthly event Hysteria is back with its eclectic blend of spoken word, comedy and music from women and non-binary artists. This month Hysteria will take place on 29 Aug, from 7.30pm in Spin Aberdeen, however its line-up is yet to be announced (head over to the Hysteria Facebook page, @hysteriaABDN).

Heading west, Skye Festival has a massive line-up of theatre, traditional Scottish music, jazz, and so much more. Joining the programme this year, amidst two days of book-centric events, is renowned poet and NTS Scriver in Residence at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Rab Wilson. He will be appearing (16 Aug) alongside his co-author, the Astronomer Royal for Scotland John Brown. The event launches Wilson and Brown’s new book Oor Big Braw Cosmos, published by Luath. The book is a unique artwork-cum-guide to the stars, featuring space-inspired poetry and haiku from Wilson and hundreds of cosmic images revealing the beauty and vastness of space as you’ve never seen before.