Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Rather good



'Aye Write' for me started with the 'Poetry Slam ' at the rather late time of 9.30 - 11 pm,almost my bedtime! I walked into a jam packed theatre to loud music that I was not familiar with(I'm still with the 1960's 70's sounds!) and a very young crowd. I recognised two of the judges but no one else in the audience. Once the programmes started, Robin Cairns the MC made sure it was humourous and enjoyable. Sixteeen poets/writers braved it on to the stage, winners from all parts of Scotland. The standard was superb. The winner Kevin Cadwallender's opening rendition of his 'Dalek's Skincare' in a Dalek's voice won the crowd over. His words and delivery was perfect- it was 'Worth it' as he put it. His second round poem on the existentialist builder was even funnier. I recalled Walt Whitman's 'O Me! O Life!' What a wealth of talented poets we have in Glasgow?

The next few days were with SWC workshop and the Amnesty International's programme of imprisoned prisoner's work. Laura Marney, Sue Reid Sexton, a journalist from Gambia and a novelist read four pieces of work that showed us how we take freedom for granted. An excellent event to raise awareness of the tremendous work done by journalists like Marie Colvin who gave up their lives so that the truth could be accessed by all of us around the world.

Moira Mc Partlin staged a totally different book launch of her debut novel 'The Incomers' with a dramatisation of scenes from the book. I've just started to read the my copy that she kindly signed and it is interesting. The story of a West African woman arriving in a tiny Fife mining village written by a local person is new. The prejudices of the 1960's when the area had never seen a black woman is portrayed in the book. Some of the vocabulary is shocking but she struck a cord with the audience.I do remember my own friends advising me not to write too much about racism in my two novels, perhaps it is easier to accept it from a local writer. I wish Moira well in her new career.

Alex Mc Call Smith was a laugh a minute event. He addressed all the issues of writing about Africa in what I consider sometimes in a patronising way, but he argued that there were enough novels of a dystopian or depressing topic and he relished writing the way he did. He related how the first edition of his Botswana series started as a short story and then the book had a print of just 1500, then another 500, progressed to more when he got the New York rights signed. He celebrated his signing the New York contract by buying a pair of suede mocassins, such simplicity. Later as his success mounted he was driven in a huge limousine around NY and he rang his agent in London to reassure him that it was well deserved. His tales about Bertie and his 'pushy mum' in the Scotland series had us all roaring with laughter.A wonderful writer who is adored by Weegies and Burghers of Morningside!!

I am looking forward to Noo Saro-Wiwa and Professor Tom Devine's event on Saturday. Also the exciting winner of the Short Story Competition will be announced at the SWC 's showcase event at the 'Aye Write'on the same day.

I am sure many of you have been enjoying the other events at the Festival.

My tutor from the 'World Literature' classes invited me to their lunch at the end of this session. So kind of her when I could not attend even one of the classes. It was good to meet up with the friends there. I had thoroughly lovely day with them, first at lunch at Stravaigin then at her beautiful flat in Strathblane. The Falls of Ballgan are a backdrop to her house and the burn runs along the estate. Stunning rural setting.

Ah... life is wonderful. Now I better get that family memoir done and dusted!!

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