Scottish Poetry News – September 2018

September's spoken word calendar sees Wigtown and Islay host their festivals, and a bumper crop of new poetry collections to enjoy at home

Feature by Beth Cochrane | 05 Sep 2018

Need a new poetry collection? September’s got you sorted with a lengthy list of new titles to choose from. Jenni Fagan releases There’s a Witch in the Word Machine with Polygon on 6 Sep. Although known primarily as an award-winning novelist, this is Fagan’s second full poetry collection and is sure to advance her reputation as a bewitching and beguiling poet. There’s a Witch in the Word Machine was written during her residency at Shakespeare & Co., Paris, and on the Outriders tour (an Edinburgh International Book Festival project) across the USA.

Polygon are also publishing Jim Carruth’s verse novella, Killochries. A young man leaves his home in the city for work on a remote farm, where he meets an old shepherd who couldn’t care less for the modern world. The two men work together for the duration of a year, and Killochries is the map of their growing and unexpected relationship.

Also this month, Harry Josephine Giles releases their new collection with Out-Spoken Press. The Games is written in Scots and English, and is a savage exploration of poetry in many forms: sound, found, computer-generated and much more. Harry Josephine’s work drives at the boundaries of what poetry can be, and their new collection pushes this, with effortless joy, steadily further. With themes of ecology, power and sex, how can you not pick up a copy ASAP?

Kate Tempest also releases her third poetry collection Running Upon the Wires via Picador Poetry on 6 September. Hailed as ‘one of our most important poetic truth tellers’, Tempest’s new collection is a deeply personal tale, yet one that's relatable to all. Running Upon the Wires is Tempest’s journey from break-up and self-destruction to the redemption, and challenges, of falling in love again. This is a collection which investigates and reaffirms relationships based on the passion of romantic love. 

Also out on 6 Sep, Gaia Holmes releases her third collection, Where the Road Runs Out, with Comma Press. Although Holmes is based in Halifax, much of her collection was written during an extended stay in Orkney. Where the Road Runs Out was much inspired by the Orcadian landscape and people. The book is, however, conceptually unfamiliar, with each poem inspired by and linked through sinkholes (both physical and metaphorical).

In the events calendar there are two exciting festivals happening in September. Wigtown Book Festival – Scotland’s second biggest book festival – is running 21-30 Sep and has some wonderful poetry events lined up. The festival is set in the heart of Scotland’s official Book Town, boasting 14 (mainly secondhand) bookshops. On 22 Sep, Dumfries favourite Hugh McMillan will be reading from his new collection Heliopolis. Tom Pow will be presenting Barefoot: The Collected Poems of Alastair Reid on 23 Sep. This collection is the first time Reid’s poems have been published under one cover, and Pow – Reid’s friend and the editor of Barefoot – will be discussing the life and work of this great Galloway poet. Marjorie Lotfi Gill, on 24 Sep, will be reading from her latest poetry pamphlet, Refuge, and will discuss her experience of the Iranian revolution and journey fleeing Tehran. This event, titled A Persian Supper, will also include a gourmet Iranian meal.

Islay Book Festival will run 27-30 Sep, and has a varied line up of poetry events in its packed programme. Flight of Poets (28 Sep) features short readings from a variety of poets: Ian Stephen, Ciara MacLaverty, Chrys Salt, Donald S. Murray and Brian Johnstone. There’s a strong strand of events surrounding the WWI centenary, with poetry coming into play within these discussions. Events include Trevor Royle’s WW100 Reflections: Flowers of the Forest (30 Sep) and multi-media performance WW100 Reflections: The Fields of War (29 Sep) with Chrys Salt and Brian Johnstone.