An Introduction to Jura Unbound 2014

Feature by Roland Gulliver | 03 Jul 2014

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is 18 days of bookish brilliance bursting out of the tents inside Charlotte Square Gardens. 16 of those days transform into nights of literary delight with Jura Unbound, the Book Festival’s eclectic programme of fantastic, free events, inviting you to discover the makers of some truly magnificent stories.

Jura Unbound is a mischievously magical thing. Quietly created from dreams and schemes, ideas and frivolous fancies, it unleashes our unique creative chaos onto the world from inside the magnificent Guardian Spiegeltent. Each night, enveloped by the velvet roof and mirrored walls, a little bit of magic happens. Maybe it's because of the mysterious stilt-walking Belgians who build the venue, or perhaps it’s the audience, who are looking to fend off the festival frenzy that make it so special. Whatever it is, people gather together after a day of sunshine or rain to restore themselves with stories, to be entertained, enthralled and surprised, but most of all to share their love of storytelling.

This year’s Jura Unbound programme grabs the themes and ideas from across the wider Book Festival programme, plays with them and celebrates them. It presents an astonishing array of Scottish and international writers, artists and performers, capturing the indefatigable energy and creativity that continues all year round. We open proceedings with the Empire Café, a project created by author Louise Welsh and architect Jude Barber to mark the Commonwealth Games. For Jura Unbound, they bring a wealth of performances ranging from Caribbean poets to Scottish hip-hop.

After last year’s incredible celebration of Iraq, we’ve invited back Reel Arts for a tribute to Syrian poetry and culture, and no doubt some dancing!  Working with poet Luke Wright and producer Becky Fincham, we are exploring the many sides of spoken word with Nasty Little Press profiling a range of writers making the jump from stage to page. And the independence debate will be settled once and for all with a word-wrestling battle-to-the-death: Scotland versus England, produced by Page Match.

We’ve teamed up with Scottish publisher Canongate for a heady night of Losing Ourselves, looking at when and why we need escape. Neu! Reekie! present their world-beating, genre-redefining night of words, music and performance and we welcome a special edition of the iconic Jim Lambie’s Poetry Club, which comes to us on the back of his major exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery. 

Born To Be Wide takes a close-up look at how Scottish music and words intertwine, while Edinburgh’s own Rally & Broad present a special Ampersand Edition created and hosted by Rachel McCrum and Jenny Lindsay. The best of Scottish meets best of international when Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature celebrate their 10th anniversary by inviting Krakow, one of the world’s newest Cities of Literature, to present an evening from Poland.

It wouldn’t be a proper Jura Unbound programme without a delicious collision of words and music. The lovely Willy Vlautin returns – he appeared at the inaugural Unbound in 2010 – joined this time by some North American friends, and Vic Galloway hosts a night of independence with writers and singer-songwriters from Scotland’s finest independent record labels and publishers.