Review of September Event: Max Scratchmann

By Irene Ross

The guest speaker at our September meeting was Max Scratchmann, poet, writer and illustrator. He treated us to his Edinburgh Fringe show, ‘The Last Burrah Sahibs’, based on his book of the same name. With a background of home movies from his childhood in India and Scotland, Max described life through the eyes of the child he was, beginning with the scents and sounds of life as the child of a jute factory manager in India. He spoke of the shock of returning to Scotland where the family’s status was significantly lower than on the subcontinent and the snow was savagely cold. The return of his family to what is now Bangladesh allowed the boy to witness the end of the colonial era.

The talk was in turn comical, tragic and an historical account of a turbulent time. He was able to compare and contrast the two lifestyles: the houses, the staff (or lack of it) and the social differences between the two societies. He touched on the impact on his parents, especially his Mother, of the move from India to Scotland and then back to Bangladesh. He finished the evening with one of his poems highlighting the things he loves about Scotland, now his home, although he does not rule out a return to India in his retirement.

Next Event
Join us at Edinbane Hall on Tuesday 29th October to hear from crime writer James Oswald author of the Inspector MacLean novels set in Edinburgh.

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Max Scratchmann: Be Ready For Anything

Event: Tuesday, September 24, Edinbane Community Hall.

Illustrator, writer, performer, poet Max Scratchmann very likely will have you talking about this evening for a long time. We are pleased to give you the opportunity to meet this engaging artist at our next meeting in the intimate Edinbane Community Hall, Tuesday, 24 September, 7:30 p.m.

Max is a prolific illustrator, with work appearing on over forty book covers, various CD sleeves and T-shirts and literally hundreds of magazines in Britain, America and Japan. He is the author of over eighteen books, including the award-winning autobiography about Scottish jute workers in India, The Last Burrah Sahibs, and the unintentionally controversial account of downshifting in the Scottish islands, Chucking It All.

 The Last Burrah Sahibs is a humorous and compelling memoir of the lost life of luxury in 1960s Bangladesh, through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy.

His book on living in the Orkneys gave him short-lived and undeserved infamy. Chucking It All: How Downshifting to a Windswept Scottish Island Did Absolutely Nothing to Improve My Life was called “one of the most hilarious books you will read this year” by The Scottish Review of Books. The author’s irreverent, but grudgingly affectionate portrait of his failed attempt at living among Orkney’s denizens especially enraged locals who recognized themselves being characterized. What was light-hearted grousing apparently led to his manuscript being binned by the original publisher. We want to hear the story.

 Max’s poems and short stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines, and he runs the Edinburgh performance poetry company, Poetry Circus. An additional tidbit is that he also works as a model and has a remarkable portfolio.

He has led seminars on self-promotion for artists at the Centre for Arts Development in Liverpool and taught both collage and digital art throughout the country. He also exhibits his work The evening should include a sprinkling of his talents.

Everyone is welcome to join the group for this special event. Non-members, £5. Refreshments are served and we always have our Good Reads table open for browsing.

If anyone would like to join committee members for pre-event drinks or dinner, just pop into the Edinbane Inn around 6 p.m.

For information about this event or questions regarding the Reading Room, please contact us at:  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August at the Reading Room and around Skye

Lots and lots going on this month – here are a few suggestions to tempt the book lovers amongst us…….

Saturday 10th August  11.00am-3.00pm Skeabost – free entry
Reading Room Book Stall
at the monthly Indoor Sale at Skeabost Memorial Hall.

Skye Live Literature Weekend courtesy of SEALL
Friday 16th August 7.30pm-9.00pm at Sabhal Mor – check website for prices etc
Astronomer Royal for Scotland, John C Brown OBE and Rab Wilson, renowned Scots poet and NTS Scriver in Residence at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, come to Skye to launch their new book Oor Big Braw Cosmos in a fascinating illustrated talk with readings. http://www.seall.co.uk/events/seall-live-literature-16-august/

Saturday 17th August at An Crùbh – check website for prices etc
2pm – 3pm
Maggie Craig – Interesting Times: The Men and Women of the ’45
3.15pm – 4.15pm 
Barbara Henderson – Going Down in History: Writing workshop
https://www.seall.co.uk/events/seall-live-literature-maggie-craig-17-august.

Reading Room Blether aboot books
Tuesday 27th August 7.30pm at Edinbane Community Hall – free of charge
Following the enjoyable launch of Lin Anderson’s latest book ‘Time for the Dead’ at the library in Portree there will be a chance to discuss it at the Reading Room’s monthly get together. If you’ve not got a copy they’re available at Aros and at Carmina Gadelica in Portree. If you don’t get a chance to read it beforehand you’re still welcome to come along and be sociable – remember we’re always looking for suggestions for future events.

Hope to see you at some of these events

July at the Reading Room

It looks like there’s lots on in July on the literary front so the Reading Room folk are taking some time off. You’ll probably see some of us at these other events that are happening soon:-

Christopher Whatley, author of Pabay: An Island Odyssey will be at
Edinbane Community Hall – Saturday 6th July from 5.00-7.00pm
Cafe at An Crubh               – Monday  8th July from 5.30pm
Tickets are free for both events but please email events@birlinn.co.uk to RSVP or to find out more information.

Reading Room Book Stall at the monthly Indoor Sale at
Skeabost Memorial Hall      – Saturday 13th July from 11.00am-3.00pm

Anne Pia, an Italian Scot award-winning author poet based in Edinburgh will be at
Bog Myrtle, Struan              – Sunday 21st July from 4.00pm
tickets via http://www.seall.co.uk/events/anne-pia/

Last month we had a great time at our Open Mic with guest poet and all round good guy Harry Gallagher. There will be more about the event shortly but imagine our surprise when chairman Simon Clayton opened the evening by welcoming Harry in verse thus:-

Welcome to Harry

Edinbane, on the Isle of Skye,
Hosts meetings of the Reading Room.
At best, they light a writer’s fire,
At worst, they lift a little gloom.

Our members love the written word,
More so, when read aloud.
We always welcome poets here,
We’re not an awkward crowd.

This month, we are truly blessed,
And expect a thrilling ride.
Harry Gallagher’s only here,
All the way from Tees-side.

Remember, tonight’s an Open Mic,
For visitors and members.
So, let the breath of this good throng,
Be blown on your word’s embers.

After this short, sweet, intro,
You people can show your mettle.
And read until you’re satisfied,
Or ‘til Deb puts on the kettle.

To Harry we give grateful thanks,
Awaiting poems with Northern grit.
Poetry ripe with the richness of life,
Public bar sawdust, and spit.

Now, I’ll be quiet and we can start,
Please clear your throats and ears.
And welcome Harry to this place,
With great Applause and Cheers.

 

Harry’s Back with Open Mic

HARRY GPoet Harry Gallagher will make a special appearance at our 25 June Open Mic, taking place at Edinbane Community Hall, 7:30 pm.
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Harry has just been announced as the BBC Tees poet for National Poetry Day 2019. They’ve commissioned him to write a poem from listeners’ suggestions, which will represent the area in a positive way. Look for that project. 
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Launched January of this year, Harry’s new book of poetry, Running Parallel, is a jointly authored book with p.a. morbid, of Black Light Engine Room Press. Harry says the book has two covers – get halfway through, turn it upside down and you have a completely different book! You will have a chance to purchase it at the event. 
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The well-known Tees poet will arrive fresh
from reading at three literary festivals:
‘Wirral Festival Of Firsts’;  ‘IRON Or Festival’ at Cullercoats; and  ‘Crossing The Tees’. He says, ‘I love coming to Skye. I love the people, the openness, the mountains, the sea and the way it really feels like two different countries – Sleat and everywhere north! Being a terrible industrial relics nerd, I also love spotting bits of paths that used to be railway lines!”
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The evening will kick off with Open Mic. Readers are invited to share a poem they penned or one by someone else whom they particularly admire. Share a song if you like. We encourage performances in English, Gaelic or Scots. 5-minute slots are available.
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Our special guest will take the stage after intermission, during which coffee, tea and treats will be served.
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There is no entrance fee for members and readers; non-readers pay £3. Our Open Mics are always fun and offer inspiring entertainment for the audience.  Harry Gallagher is a dynamic poet and performer whom you want to be sure to see.  Reading Room looks forward to  welcoming all of you.
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On the day after the event, Wednesday morning, 10 a.m., Harry will be interviewed on local radio Cuillin FM, by our chairman, Simon Clayton.
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For information about this event or questions regarding the Reading Room, please contact us at:  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye 

Review of May Event: Gordon Brown

By Irene Ross

Our guest speaker at the Reading Room in May was Gordon Brown, author not politician, as he was quick to clarify. Gordon is from Glasgow and, after University, spent many years working in marketing roles before finally making the jump to pursuing a career as a full time writer.

Gordon’s talk was hugely entertaining, veering from humorous tales of finding inspiration in strange situations to key intelligence on writing and editing. He painted a wonderful verbal picture of watching a fight between two Glasgow drunks and observing the complete disengagement of the only other customer in the bar and then posing the typical writer’s question of ‘What if?’. Ultimately this led to the first of his series of books about Craig McIntyre, the possessor of a very strange skill. He also has a series of crime novels based in Scotland (Charlie Wiggs series), with an accountant as the rather unlikely lead protagonist.

Having books set in the UK and in the US, he is well placed to highlight the potential pitfalls in terms of vocabulary, location and editing of mixing the two. He also regaled us with tales of his own shortcomings when, even after several readings and major editing, the eagle-eyed reader spies the error which everyone else has overlooked – even down to making his hero go to the wrong side of the platform on the Glasgow underground!

He is one of the founding members of the Bloody Scotland book festival and touched briefly on its history, although he was unable to give us too much information on the 2019 festival, as he was speaking to us before the official launch. For more details on the event, which takes place from 20th to 22nd September in Stirling, see https://bloodyscotland.com/

Gordon finished the evening by reading one of his short stories to us. A tale which had us laughing out loud but had a gruesome twist in its tail! For more information on Gordon and his work, see his website at: https://www.gordonjbrown.com/

Join us at Edinbane Hall on Tuesday 25th June for our next meeting, featuring performance poet Harry Gallagher and an open mic session.

Gordon Brown Talks About Writing THAT Book

Tuesday, May 28, 7:30 p.m. at Edinbane Hall

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The bio of crime thriller author Gordon Brown suggests two things: He has a bona fide writer’s heart and he is qualified to give advice on survival. 

He has been writing since his teens, and earlier in life, Gordon delivered pizzas in Toronto, sold non-alcoholic beer in the Middle East, launched a creativity business, floated a high-tech company on the London Stock Exchange, compered the main stage at a two-day music festival and was once booed by 49,000 people while on the pitch at a major football Cup Final. He currently runs a strategic planning consultancy, while working on book after book that thankfully don’t molder inside of suitcases any more.

Deepest_Wounds_Cover_frontGordon Brown has six published crime thriller novels set in Scotland and the U.S. The latest in his Craig McIntyre series is Book 3: Deepest Wounds (Strident, 2017), in which McIntyre is the key to an explosive secret that could change mankind forever. The first two books of the trilogy are Darkest Thoughts and Furthest Reaches. His writing is compelling – readers are hooked immediately and are gripped by the relentless pace.  

As a founding board director of Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, Bloody Scotland, Gordon wonders what people seek there… “Knowledge? Insight? Hope? What happens between authors ears explained, or more often, not explained?” At our May 28 meeting with him, perhaps aspiring novelists will find what they seek and this crime thriller writer’s grey cells might be illuminated.

Gordon will talk about writing the one book that everyone talks about having in them. Don’t know where to start? He will share his experience of writing and publishing – the good & bad, the ups & downs and, of course, the dos & don’ts. There will be plenty of time for Qs & As, after refreshment break.

For a free delicious taste of Craig McIntyre, try this:

Come along and join Gordon for the evening, as we dive deep into the murky waters of crime and thriller writing. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at Edinbane Community Hall. Non-members pay £5, though they can take advantage of our 2019 membership for £20 at the door.

The evening usually starts at 6 p.m. with a few of us stopping for a pre-meeting supper at Edinbane Inn. Everyone is welcome to join us.

Our chairman, Simon Clayton, will be interviewing Gordon at the local radio station, Cuillin FM, on the Wednesday morning following the meeting, between 10 a.m. and 12 noon.

For information about this event or questions regarding the Reading Room, please contact us at:  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye 
This event is partly sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust.