A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Scots Makar leads pledge support for Keep the Heid and Read!

Keep the Heid and Read! online totaliser launched to capture Scotland-wide support

Scotland’s Makar, Kathleen Jamie, is one of the first people in the country to pledge their support for the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign, which launched today (Mon 11 Apr).

Joining some of the country’s most influential individuals and organisations, including the Institute of Directors and the SPFL Trust, in pledging to take part in the ‘national reading moment’ on Wednesday 11 May, the Makar was happy to help drive awareness of the project.

The Scotland-wide initiative, led by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and with support from Baillie Gifford, aims to inspire and encourage people of all ages and abilities to read every day to boost their mental health and wellbeing – starting with a pledge to read for just six minutes on11 May.

Research shows that reading for six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68 per cent – in people of all ages.  With the national reading moment due to take place during Mental Health Week 2022 (9-15 May 2022), the campaign signals the perfect opportunity to take stock and establish a regular reading habit.

Kathleen Jamie, the national poet for Scotland (2021-2024), said: “Our local libraries are full of great reading material – books of course, but also comics and pamphlets of poetry, so they are the perfect places to release the imagination, whatever your ability and interests.

“Reading for pleasure can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.  I read every day, often early in the morning to set me up for the day, so I’m glad to support the Keep the Heid and Read campaign.  I’ve pledged my six minutes of reading on 11 May and would encourage everyone else to do the same.”

An online totaliser, capturing the number of reading minutes pledged towards the national reading moment, is available at: www.keeptheheid.scot.

Speaking about the inspiration behind the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign, Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at SLIC, said: “This campaign was designed to promote the positive and easy-to-implement changes which can help increase mental health and wellbeing, and highlight the part local libraries can play in that process.

“We believe starting with a simple pledge to read for just six minutes on 11 May will help inspire people to take forward these good habits in their everyday lives.”

Working in partnership with Scotland’s 32 public library services, SLIC hopes the free to use services across Scotland will encourage as many people as possible to get involved in the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign.

Pamela added: “Libraries play a valuable role in reconnecting communities and with the majority of libraries now reopened across Scotland after the pandemic – all with an abundance of free reading materials available – we hope these services will allow people all over Scotland to take part in the national reading moment.”

Individuals and groups, such as schools and workplaces, are invited to sign up now to get involved at www.keeptheheid.scot, and add to the totaliser count. Gaelic translated ‘Na bi ga do chall fhèin, leugh!’ campaign materials are also available in full.  Keep up-to-date and share your support using #keeptheheid on social media.

-Ends-

For media enquiries please email SLIC@3×1.com or call  0141 221 0707.

Reproduced from the SLIC press release.

 

 

 

April 11, 2022

Year of Stories 2022 events revealed

VisitScotland has unveiled their new Themed Year for 2022, Scotland’s Year of Stories with a nationwide programme of more than 60 events, presented by a range of partners from national organisations to community groups.

Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 embodies the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. As the year progresses, they will continue to add events throughout 2022.

Book festivals, musical journeys, favourite cartoon characters and fresh takes on our culture and heritage, will form part of a dazzling programme of events to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

The programme was launched by VisitScotland senior figures and Scotland’s Makar Kathleen Jamie, along with a new promotional video (below) featuring the voice of Game of Thrones star James Cosmo. The Clydebank-born actor, known for his role in the fantasy epic as well as numerous Scottish film and TV shows, lends his distinctive timbre to inspire visitors and locals to explore Scotland and celebrate the Year of Stories.

Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 will begin on 1 January 2022 and run until 31 December 2022. Join the conversation online using #YS2022 and #TalesOfScotland.

Read on to find out more about what the Year of Stories has in store:

The story begins across January-March with:
  • Glasgow’s Celtic Connections presenting ‘Whisper the Song’, a series of five newly commissioned events celebrating Scotland’s rich tradition of stories, interwoven with music, song and film.
  • Once Upon a Time in South Ayrshire, beginning with a celebration of Burns then featuring a varied programme of events, exhibitions and experiences that will run across the year.
  • Spectra – Scotland’s Festival of Light, returns to Aberdeen in February, celebrating the humour, seriousness and sheer gallus of Scotland’s storytellers, including ‘Writ Large’, which will beam the country’s finest contemporary storytellers’ prose and poetry in large scale projections and neon.
Turning the page into spring 2022 (March-April) events:
  • StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival presents Stories like starting points, exploring the role of stories in poetry and introducing a brand-new Young Makars poetry initiative.
  • Stornoway’s An Lanntair presents Seanchas, a series of events, films and special commissions celebrating tales from the Hebrides both real and imagined, modern and ancient.
Summer (May-September) provides plenty to write home about:
  • Borders Book Festival returns to Melrose with a special programme celebrating and exploring tales with themes from Walter Scott, to the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
  • The Wire Women project taking place as part of Perth and Kinross’ Year of Stories with community groups, creatives and cultural organisations sharing the stories of women, all connected through objects in the collections of the new City Hall Museum
  • Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Edinburgh International Film Festival will bring Scotland’s Stories On Screen to iconic and exciting places and spaces.
  • The Dundee Summer (Bash) Street Festival will hail Dundee as the home of comics, celebrating its characters, stories, history and upcoming talent. The city will be declared as BEANOTOWN, with a pop-up comic museum, workshops, talks, film screenings, street fun and world record attempts.
  • The world-renowned Edinburgh International Book Festival presents Scotland’s Stories Now – proving everyone has a story to tell with tales gathered from across the country and then shared at the flagship event.
  • In Skye, SEALL and Gaelic singer Anne Martin lead An Tinne, a collection of songs, stories and objects from across the centuries exploring the deep and fascinating connection between Scotland and Australia.
  • Moray Speyside’s Findhorn Bay Festival will offer a journey of exploration and discovery, celebrating the area’s heritage, landscape and people.
  • The Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland’s National Book Town will present two new commissions, Into the Nicht, an immersive Dark Skies tour, and Walter in Wonderland, a whirlwind theatrical tour through the history of the nation’s literature.
  • The Northern Stories Festival led by Lyth Arts Centre in Caithness promises a spectacular celebration of the stories of the Far North.
Continuing the story into autumn and winter:
  • Transgressive North bringing us Map of Stories, in partnership with the International Storytelling Festival, ‘film ceilidh’ events celebrating the most iconic voices from Scotland’s oral storytelling traditions will invoke the places and landscapes from which they emerge.
  • Stirling Castle plays host to Tales from the Castle, an after-hours event which opens the gates to extraordinary stories and takes you on a journey through language and time.
  • Scotland’s Stories – Community Campfires, led by Scottish Book Trust will take place across the country, engaging with communities and showcasing people’s tales from their own lives. It will feature Luke Winter’s Story Wagon and culminating at Book Week Scotland in November.

There are also a number of events that will take place across the year, with some touring the country:
  • Edinburgh, Benmore, Logan and Dawyck Botanic Gardens will host Of Scotland’s Soils and Soul – a multi-sensory journey celebrating stories inspired by Scotland’s rich and diverse plant life.
  • The Scottish Storytelling Centre & Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust present Figures of Speech with prominent and emerging figures responding to our iconic stories and imagining them afresh, sparking new dialogues and directions.
  • The RSNO bring us Yoyo and the Little Auk, a new story celebrating our diverse cultures for Early Years Audiences with an animated film and live performances at events and festivals across Scotland.
  • Songs from the Last Page from Chamber Music Scotland will take place at book festivals, libraries, and community spaces and will create new songs from the last lines of our great and favourite fiction: turning endings into beginnings.

The events programme will bring Scotland’s places and spaces to life, sharing stories old and new covering everything from local tales to oral traditions, iconic books, to tales told on the big screen. They will be told by diverse voices and discovered in many different places, showcasing the many sides of Scotland’s distinct culture.

Across the country, from national to community organisations and businesses, people are preparing to tell their tales of Scotland, shining a spotlight on iconic stories and storytellers, tales of our people, places and legends and stories inspired by nature.

For 2022, the Themed Year will include a brand new events programme strand. The Community Stories Fund has been designed to support organisations and community groups to take part in and celebrate the year, spotlighting the unique stories that matter to them. The fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland, with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players.

Around 100 events will be supported through the Community Stories Fund including:
  • Weaving with words: the magic of Highland Storytelling at Hugh Miller’s Birthplace Museum will feature a series of guided storytelling walks around Cromarty from April to October, inspired by the life and works of the 19th century geologist, folklorist and social justice campaigner
  • In March the distinctive story of Easterhouse will be shared in Mining seams and drawing wells: a living archive for Easterhouse, led by Glasgow East Arts Company with local residents
  • A Yarn Worth Spinning led by The Great Tapestry of Scotland will tell the story of the history and culture of textiles in the Scottish Borders from April to June, including an exhibition and fashion show
  • A cross generational project led by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, The Phone Box – East Linton voices shared down the line, will take place in August with a rich soundscape of stories, memories and music.

In addition to the directly funded programme of events, we will work with the widest range of partners to showcase and promote the full gamut of events and activities that celebrate Scotland’s many and diverse Stories across 2022.

From the wider programme of Burns events in January, including National Trust for Scotland’s Burns Big Night In on 22 January, to the 75th Anniversary of our World Festival City to wonderful stories from our National Theatre of Scotland, including Enough of Him, a remarkable story based on the life of one man who changed the course of history, and the ambitious programme coming to Scotland as part of UNBOXED, a UK wide celebration of creativity and innovation. Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 will be a year in which stories are shared and created on a huge scale.

 

December 14, 2021

Kathleen Jamie appointed as Scotland’s new Makar

Huge congratulations to poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie who has been appointed as Scotland’s next Makar.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon formally welcomed her to the role at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

The role of Makar involves taking a leadership role in promoting poetry nationally, as well as producing work relating to significant national events.

Ms Jamie was appointed by the First Minister for a three-year term on the recommendation of an expert panel representing Scotland’s literary sector.

She is the fourth person to hold the role since it was established by the Scottish Parliament in 2004, following in the footsteps of Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, and Edwin Morgan.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am delighted to confirm Kathleen Jamie as our national poet.

“Poetry is integral to Scotland’s culture and history. The Makar has a central role in celebrating that legacy, and preserving its future by encouraging the next generation of young writers to leave their mark.

“Kathleen is a highly accomplished poet who is known for her works in English and Scots, and the meaningful connections her writing draws between our lives and the landscape around us. I have no doubt she will continue to build on the exceptional work of her predecessors to promote Scottish poetry both here and abroad.”

Kathleen Jamie said: I am honoured and delighted to be appointed as Scotland’s new Makar. The post confirms a weel-kent truth: that poetry abides at the heart of Scottish culture, in all our languages, old and new. It’s mysterious, undefinable and bold. It runs deep and sparkles at once.

“Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay and the late Edwin Morgan have held this post before me, a trio of major poets. If I can achieve half of their outreach, humour and wisdom, not to mention their wonderful verse, I’ll be doing well. I am grateful to the selection panel for such a vote of confidence in my work, and to the First Minister for her endorsement and support.

“My task as I see it is to meet folk, to support and encourage poetry, to laugh and lament and witness, and occasionally speak to our national life. I’m excited to begin.”

Asif Khan, Director at Scottish Poetry Library said: “Kathleen Jamie is a generational talent – an exceptional Scottish writer of any era. Jamie’s poetry and prose sits with the best writing in English anywhere in the world. The poetry library looks forward to supporting the new Makar’s programme of engagement at a time when poetry is treasured as an art form that can heal and unite communities, as well as inspire our young people, including New Scots, to see the world differently and reflect on their role in it.”

Alan Bett, Head of Literature & Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “Kathleen Jamie is an excellent choice for The Makar, Scotland’s national poet. The quality of her work speaks for itself, and that work can and will speak to so many people across Scotland and beyond. The work can also speak to and challenge the current environmental context, with a strong focus on place and nature. I would like to offer my warm congratulations to Kathleen on this announcement and look forward to the creative projects that will connect her poetry with the nation.”

Background

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s selection process involved an Expert Panel being commissioned by the Scottish Government to agree a shortlist for this year’s selection and put a single nomination forward to the First Minister for endorsement.

At the panel’s recommendation, the appointment was made for a three-year term rather than the previous five-year term as it has been for the past two appointments due to the demands the role places on the Makar’s time and other work, and to help encourage greater diversity, variety and interest in the role going forward.

This appointment process will be reviewed to ensure that it remains fit for the future.

The Expert Panel comprised the following members:

  • David Seers, Head of Sponsorship & Funding Team, Culture & Historic Environment Division, Scottish Government, (Chair)
  • Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing, Creative Scotland
  • Jackie Cromarty, Associate Director of External Relations, National Library of Scotland
  • Dr David Goldie, President, Association for Scottish Literary Studies
  • Peggy Hughes, Chair, Literature Alliance Scotland
  • Eleanor Livingstone, Former Festival Director, StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival
  • Marjorie Lotfi, Poet, Director of Open Book and Chair of Board of Trustees, Wigtown Book Festival
  • Dr Robyn Marsack, Independent Advisor, Editor, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library 2000-2016
  • Dr Peter Mackay, Lecturer in English, University of St Andrews and poet who writes in Gaelic
  • Michael Pedersen, Poet and Poetry Programmer, Neu Reekie
  • Charlie Roy, Co-Chair, Scottish Poetry Library

Original press release: https://www.gov.scot/news/new-scots-makar/

August 18, 2021

The Highland Book Prize 2019 shortlist

The Highland Book Prize organisers are delighted to announce the four books published in 2019 which judges deem the best titles with a Highland connection.

They are:

The Frayed Atlantic Edge: A Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel by David Gange (William Collins)

Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie (Sort of Books)

Spring by Ali Smith (Penguin Random House)

Moder Dy by Roseanne Watt (Polygon)

The winner will be announced at the Ullapool Book Festival on Saturday May 9 2020 at a free-to-attend evening event, at which all four shortlisted authors will be present and will read from their work. The winner will receive a cash prize of £1000 and a place on a writing retreat at Moniack Mhor.

The judges made their selection of which books published during 2019 would make the shortlist and concluded:

The Frayed Atlantic Edge “An impressive intellectual and physical journey, allowing the reader to experience the Atlantic Coast from a fresh, deeply informed and invigorating perspective; rarely have our coastlines and cultures been explored with such understanding and respect.”

Surfacing “A compelling collection of essays, alive with captivating details and large – indeed, vital – ideas. With precision and eloquence, we are guided through deep time, expressive place and protean culture, the better to understand ourselves and our environment. What emerges is a book that not only melds clarity and depth, but does so while offering, and exemplifying, compassion, empathy and wisdom.”

Spring “An exciting, engrossing and timely novel, richly layered with necessary themes, marvellous characterisation and a transfixing plot. That the book achieves its ambitions with such persuasion, insight and unwavering commitment to sheer human decency is, in itself, a triumph.”

Moder Dy “To encounter a debut collection that is so emotionally and intellectually vivid is rare indeed. These poems – linguistically rich, profound, imaginative – announce a talent that is already making waves internationally. This is not only thoughtful, lyrical poetry but poetry that will last.”

The Highland Book Prize was established in 2017 to help celebrate the finest work that recognises the rich culture, heritage and landscape of the Highlands. The Highland Book Prize aims to showcase the literary talent of the region and to raise the profile of work created in or about the Highlands.

On behalf of the Highland Society of London, Alex Ogilvie said: “Thanks to our discerning panel of volunteer readers, the judges were presented with a diverse and high-quality longlist. Selecting the shortlist from those titles was a challenging but rewarding process, and I am delighted that each of the four outstanding books that we chose displays the author’s unique response to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Across both fiction and non-fiction – but also, for the first time, poetry – the Highland Book Prize shortlist is truly representative of this wonderful region.”

Kevin MacNeil, writer and member of the judging panel commented: “Quite simply the most sublime shortlist I have ever read. I urge anyone interested in literature to treat their mind to anyone – better still, all – of these books. I feel like a wiser and more engaged human being for having had the pleasure of reading and re-reading them.”

Liz Beer, member of the judging panel and of the Ullapool Book Festival committee added: “2020 is our sixteenth year of running the Ullapool Book Festival. From small beginnings it has turned into a much-loved annual event for our audience, guest writers and chairmen/women not to mention the committee and volunteers. This will be the third year that we have hosted the Highland Book Prize and this year I had the pleasure of being one of the judges of this prize. It has been an absorbing process. In a weekend at Moniack Mhor the judges had in-depth discussions and debate and decided on the shortlist. I think we all feel that the list of four books is a strong one and very varied in content.”

For further information please contact Mirren Rosie or Eilidh Smith via:

Tel:                01463741675 or 07842040165

E-mail:          highlandbookprize@moniackmhor.org.uk

Visit:             www.highlandbookprize.org.uk

Twitter:         @highlandbook1

Instagram:    @highlandbookprize

Facebook:     @highlandbookprize

High-Resolution images and of each book cover and author are available to download here: https://we.tl/t-rEmJJLyHH8

ENDS   

NOTES TO EDITORS

Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre is based fourteen miles from Inverness, just a stone’s throw away from Loch Ness. As well as five-day residential writing courses, the centre runs one-off events, day courses and works in partnership with other organisations to help people to enjoy creative writing in all its forms. www.moniackmhor.org.uk

The Highland Society of London is a charity which exists to promote and support the traditions and culture of the Highlands of Scotland.www.highlandsocietyoflondon.org

The first Ullapool Book Festival was held in May 2005. It was founded by a group of literary enthusiasts in Ullapool Entertainments, the local voluntary arts organisation founded in 1982. www.ullapoolbookfestival.co.uk

 The family shareholders of William Grant & Sons established the William Grant Foundation in 2014 as a non-profit association to oversee and direct their charitable donations. The William Grant Foundation is committed to a future where everyone in Scotland has the opportunity to thrive, a belief that is deeply rooted in the core values shared by the family and the company.www.williamgrantfoundation.org.uk

February 19, 2020

National Poetry Day 2017 – Thurs 28 Sept

National Poetry Day is coming! On Thursday, 28 September, the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) will take the lead in Scotland in promoting the UK’s annual celebration of poetry and poets.

The theme for National Poetry Day (NPD) 2017 is ‘freedom’.

In addition to providing unique resources to mark the day, the SPL is co-hosting three events and supporting the launch of BBC Scotland’s Poet in Residence.

Poets Don Paterson, Christine De Luca and Hugh McMillan will read at special events to celebrate NPD.

Award-winner Paterson will read in the unique setting of the Jupiter Artland sculpture park outside Edinburgh.

Christine De Luca will mark the end of her time as Edinburgh Makar with the publication of a collection of poems about the capital, Edinburgh: Singing the City, which she will launch at the SPL on NPD.

At the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayr, Hugh McMillan will perform his own work alongside competition winners from Alloway Primary, who have written their own poems for NPD.

National Poetry Day also marks the launch of BBC Scotland’s Poet in Residence.

Earlier this year, after an open call for submissions, BBC Scotland announced the second poet to take up the post is Stuart A. Paterson (succeeding Rachel McCrum, who held the post in 2015).

The residency, which is four months long and will conclude on Burns Night, begins with Paterson performing his own specially-written poem about ‘freedom’ to mark National Poetry Day.

The poem will incorporate a distinctive local word as part of UK-wide NPD celebrations: on that day, each of the 12 regional BBC areas will broadcast 12 poems by 12 local poets, with each poem inspired by a distinctive local word chosen through a call out for listener suggestions across the country.

The SPL is already making available resources for teachers and readers specially commissioned for 2017’s NPD.

The notes are based on six poems, all on this year’s theme of ‘freedom’, which have been turned into poem postcards.

The poems are in English, Gaelic and Scots, and are available from public libraries in Scotland for free.

The poems chosen include work by Kathleen Jamie and Julia Donaldson.

Audio and educational content – exclusive to the SPL – based on the six poems is available on our website now at http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/connect/national-poetry-day-2017-freedom.

– ENDS –

For further information, please contact Colin Waters
T: 0131-557-2876 or 0740-052-9150. E:
colin.waters@spl.org.uk

About the Scottish Poetry Library

The Scottish Poetry Library is a unique national resource and advocate for the art of poetry. The SPL is one of three poetry libraries in the UK, but the only one to be independently constituted and housed. The SPL now has over 45,000 items and has recently completed an extensive renovation of its building. Discover more about the SPL and its work throughout Scotland and beyond on the Library’s website: http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk

About National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day is an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Everyone is invited to join in, whether by organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday. National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by the charity Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience. Discover more about NPD: https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/

 

September 27, 2017

Saltire Society Literary Awards 2016

LAS warmly congratulates all the winners of the Saltire Society Literary Awards announced last night (Thursday 24 November 2016) in a ceremony at Central Hall, Edinburgh.

Now recognised as Scotland’s foremost literary awards, the #SaltireLiterary Awards celebrate and support literary and academic excellence across six distinct categories with the winner of each of the individual book categories going forward to be considered for the Saltire Book of the Year Award.

The Book Award winners are:

Credit: saltiresociety.org.uk

Credit: saltiresociety.org.uk

The Publishing Award winners are:

2016 Saltire Society Publisher of the Year:
Floris Books

2016 Emerging Publisher of the Year Award:
Leah McDowell, Design and Production Manager at Floris Books

Congratulations to the shortlisted nominees too, listed here.

November 25, 2016