Scottish Poetry News: November 2021

This month's poetry and spoken word round-up includes celebrations of classic Scottish poetry, a return for Damian Barr's BBC Scotland show, and some exciting live performance

Preview by Beth Cochrane | 03 Nov 2021
  • Damian Barr by Jonathan Ring

Live, in-person poetry events are back, and it’s a delight to see Kevin P. Gilday (formerly of Sonnet Youth) hosting The Scribbler’s Union LIVE, 6 November at 13th Note in Glasgow. Help the Scribblers celebrate their poetic triumphs at this COP26 special (and at £6 a ticket it’s a steal, with poets such as Iona Lee, as well as comedian Richard Brown, taking the stage).

Taproot Press has an incredibly exciting title ready for publication: Brian Holton’s Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst Winds: Li Bai an Du Fu in Scots. Holton has not only taken the works of 8th-century Chinese poets Li Bai and Du Fu and – as you may have guessed – translated them into Scots, but has also transposed the poets’ worlds into Scotland’s own, modern living. The book will likely be available at the end of November, with the final publication date TBC.

I Am Loud Productions is continuing season two of Return to Form: a digital project aimed to increase accessibility and awareness around poetry in all its forms, from spoken word to villanelles and back again. Resident poetic producer, Dr Katie Ailes, will lead audiences through this succession of poetic forms, with guest poets such as Joelle Taylor, Kate Tough, and Tyrone Lewis bringing new work to the platform. 

Entropie Books, in association with Edinburgh College of Art Library, is hosting a celebration of Leonard McDermid. The exhibition, Fair Winds and Following Seas, has been curated by Jane Furness and Entropie’s Barbara A Morton, and will run in the Library until the end of November. Fair Winds features a personal selection of McDermid’s own work, alongside appreciations of his art from friends such as Julie Johnstone and Thomas A Clarke.

Vahni Capildeo’s highly anticipated new collection, Like a Tree, Walking, will be available to purchase from 25 November. Publishing with Carcanet, the poet relishes in their interest in ecopoetics and silence, and – as ever – continues to use the page in fresh, innovative ways. 

Damian Barr’s Big Scottish Book Club is back on BBC Scotland and iPlayer for a third season. Barr’s stellar line-up of established authors includes Denise Mina and James Robertson, but his list of poets and spoken word performers is just as exciting. Expect work from Scots word-of-the-day Len Pennie, renowned storyteller Mara Menzies, Bee Asha Singha (formerly of The Honey Farm), and Neu! Reekie!’s very own Michael Pedersen.