Who Am I? Jewish Identity and the Faces of Tracey S. Rosenberg

Reading  January 29 7:30 pm Edinbane Hall  Workshop  January 30  7:30-9 pm  Portree

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She’s a funny lady, a self-pronounced loud poet whose cat vociferously agrees with her. When she’s not making people laugh, they might be weeping over the eloquent poems of her second chapbook, “The Naming of Cancer” (Neon, 2014), which enfolds the reader as witness to the agony and courage of patients, family and health carers. Her first novel, “The Girl in the Bunker” (Cargo Publishing, 2011), elicits a groaning sense that children, somewhere, are even today being forced to decipher truths about racism and self-identification.

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Tracey S. Rosenberg describes herself as an American who came to Scotland and never left. We will detect if she has become a wee bit Scottish, when she joins us to read her story “The Western Wall”, a fictional response to Muriel Spark’s award-winning novel, “The Mandelbaum Gate”.  As part of the celebrations of Spark’s centenary, Tracey was awarded an Endless Different Ways grant from Creative Scotland, and she travelled to Jerusalem to write the story, which depicts three modern young women whose personal identities conflict with their shared religious history.

“The Mandelbaum Gate” provides the author  prepositional angles in theology, adventure, humour, romance and mad philosophy to shimmy up, hang from and slide down, so we can look forward to her creative gymnastics inspired by the novel that Spark wrote after witnessing a few days of the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961. The novel addresses, among other issues, complex interpretations of Jewish identity.

tracey cancer

The surgeon’s finger stands in for the blade: /
it will remove her, just here.       “Touch”

The poems of Tracey S. Rosenberg have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, including The Istanbul Review, Gutter, New Writing Scotland and The Journal of the American Association. Her short story “May the Bell be Rung for Harriet!” won the Brontë Society Creative Competition, with the shortlist judged by Dame Margaret Drabble, and was selected for Best British Short Stories 2015. She can be seen performing and volunteering at multiple literary festivals around Scotland, and among the intriguing vimeos in which you can view her, my favorite for sheer, exuberant delight is the “Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremonies”.

Our Tuesday evening reading at Edinbane Hall, January 29, begins at 7:30 p.m. £5 at the door; members are free. Everyone is welcome. If you fancy joining the committee and Tracey for supper before the Tuesday meeting, show up around 6:00 p.m. at Edinbane Inn. Refreshments are served after Tracey’s reading and there will be plenty of time for Q & A, browsing our Good Reads section and general chatting. Be sure to ask about our reasonable memberships and feel free to give input on what you would like to see happen with the Reading Room in the future.

Tracey’s workshop on “Portraying Character” will be held at St. Columba’s Church, downtown Portree, in the Parish Rooms, on Wednesday, January 30th, 7:30-9:00 p.m.  No preparation is needed and participants need only bring paper and pen and £5 fee. Refreshments will be served.

Be sure to catch Tracey on Simon Clayton’s “Ever Changing Moods” program, Cuillin FM, Wednesday, January 30, 10:30 a.m.

If you need info on this event or the Reading Room, please contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

 

 

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Classical Celebration for the Holidays

Submitted by Angus Ross, Skye Chamber Music
 
SCM XMASSkye Chamber Music is producing the 3rd Classical Celebration, with the Island Chorus, Reading Room and Skye and Lochalsh Orchestra. It will be held at the Fingal Centre at the High School in Portree, on Monday 10th December, starting at 6:40 p.m. The programme is below, and it follows the huge success of the last two years.  Why not bring a party, your own wine (or preferred tipple), glasses (from which to drink) and a table decoration – for which there will be a prize for the best.  Let’s try and beat the 150 or so audience of the last two years!
 
In a change this year, we will be providing a hot buffet for everybody – so just come with yourselves, friends, and booze (including coffee and tea if you are so inclined)!  As with the previous two celebrations, there will be no charge to enter (or enjoy the food) but there will be an opportunity to take part in a prize draw and donate towards the cost of the event.  
 
Each of the supporting groups will have a stall in the foyer and representatives will be happy to talk with you, should you need more information about what we all do. The plan is to have books and CDs also for sale at very reasonable prices.
 
THE PROGRAMME:  
 
6.40 – Live music starts with Kevin and Chris Watkiss playing a Two piano Duet, by Brahms. Variations on a Theme by Haydn (those of you there last year might remember their phenomenal finale – and won’t want to be late and miss this!)
 
7 p.m.  Main concert starts
 
Beethoven Piano Trio Opus 1 no. 1. 1st and 4th movements. Alan Donald, violin. Bar Purser, Cello. Chris Watkiss, piano.
 
Island Chorus sing a medley from Phantom of the Opera.
 
Morag Henriksen, Stephen Plant and Helen Danter will represent The Reading Room, with a selection of WW1 songs and poems from Far, Far from Ypres.
 
John Purser, Circus Suite, piano duet: Pianists Chris and Elaine. 
Sammartini recorder concerto: Soloist Judith Bullivant accompanied by Peter MacLaren and members of the Skye and Lochalsh Orchestra.
 
Food will then be served during which the live music continues with… 
 
Alan Donald, viola. Meg Rosher, Flute.
The Broadford Trio: Peter MacLaren, Judith Bullivant and Lynne Armistace-Brown.
 
The Reading Room committee wants to thank everyone who has supported our Skye group, and we wish all of you Happy Holidays. 
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We look forward to seeing you at the Classical Celebration. For information regarding this event or the Reading Room, we can be contacted at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.
 

Margaret Elphinstone Takes Us on a Journey

October 30 Meeting, 7:30 pm, Edinbane Hall

     “…you pick up your character and you follow them. He wanders through all these          worlds, and you need to know what he needs to know. So I got out my canoe on the            Ottawa  River and we went canoeing.”

As I began to research Margaret Elphinstone’s writing projects along with my own memories of her, a thought started to niggle at me about some authors: It’s not just the reading of a book. It’s the body heat it absorbs from my hands. The placing of  my index finger on a precious phrase. The book mark reluctantly fitted against the gutter, when the real world calls me away.

In my own nomadic state, Kindle has had to suffice. As I readied to order a virtual novel of Margaret’s, I saw the words from a couple of lit reviews: “…old-fashioned.” “…slow and beautiful.” “…emotional landslide.” I knew the download would have to wait until I could hold this novel in my hands. Some books are like that.

ElphinstoneHazelnut

“My unimposing find was a scrap of roasted hazelnut, which, when carbon-dated, extended the known history of Orkney back to around 6000 BC. To the time of my novel in fact; I took this as an excellent omen. (The Gathering Night)

Margaret will be visiting the Reading Room on October 30, with the theme, “Journeys into Writing,” and will also discuss the journey theme in her books. Both will be exciting in different ways. She is a documented master of creating characters’ internal journeys from the research that takes her on marvelous adventures. She has made discoveries on archeological digs, ringed a puffin, spent days alone on uninhabited islands, got marooned on Shivinish, made a coracle on Coll (and paddled), and felt the heat through her boots on the cooling lava of Eldfell on the Icelandic island of Heinmaey.

That’s not where it ends though. The author is a child of the 1960s, and she had a bellyful of fire for civil rights, the peace movement, the second wave of feminism, anti-nuclear demonstrations and scrutiny of the values, lifestyles and institutions of the day. “In those days, we thought we would change the world,” she says, to echo American radical feminist Marilyn French.

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Elphinstone sat on the doorstep of Eirik the Red’s house. Very little had changed from what Gudrid had seen 1000 years ago. (Sea Voyageurs)

Margaret appears to have started out her life with a big bang of ideologies, which she claims are invisible from within. “The world does change, but nobody changes it…what we have perceived as the natural order of things cannot be wiped out by any effort of will.”

The era of her novel-writing seems to have popped up in the middle of her life, when she jumped off of the activist treadmill. She suggests writing her novels was an absorbing immersion but we could see it as a natural progression in her study of human nature and “where have we been, where are we going to?”

ElphinstoneSeaRoadElphinstone remarks that as a historical novelist, her characters are constructed by history–not only do they speak and act according to their context, but they can only think and feel within that context. Is this passion she has devoted to the history of our survival the missing link necessary to her developing formula for the future? She has commented that her own generation has been unable to accept a historical cause and effect. “Over issues of climate change or economic profligacy, we have not fully experienced how the world changes.”

Now novel-writing has been retired and she has hopped onto the treadmill again. We can catch her writing essays, making speeches and causing little rumbles within mountain caverns. Margaret Elphinstone is being heard again in those earlier hallways that still echo with a human condition that needs a strong voice. The intimate energy of Edinbane Hall will surely be agitating the little grey cells of anyone thirsty enough to show up.

The evening will begin at 7:30 p.m.. Admission is free for members, £5 for non-members. Our reasonable memberships are always available at the door. Refreshments will  be served and our Good Reads table will exhibit a variety of books, including our two Reading Room anthologies.

For information regarding this event or the Reading Room, we can be contacted at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

This event is sponsored in part by Scottish Book Trust Live Lit

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The People’s Poet Harry Gallagher To Juice up Open Mic

Nurse Ratchet might have sent Harry Gallagher downstairs for irreversible treatment but his electrical poetry and delivery threaten only to send thrills down spines. He is The People’s Poet, who performs up and down the UK, sharing his rhyme and rhythm penned for anyone who toucheHarryGs his heart – and it must be big and tender, because he is champion of so many, with his words that cut, bruise and soothe.

Write in Tuesday, July 10, with a big scratchy star, to see Harry and hear a lot of super poetry by him and participants of our Open Mic, at the intimate Edinbane Community Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Harry is described by poet and Black Light Engine Room Press editor, p.a. morbid, as a “truly wonderful troubadour of the everyday”, for his latest collection, How it is – Snapshots From a Northern Town (Stairwell Books, 2018). 

HarryNorthern Lights

“Gulls idly chatter with herons on bones of conveyors, cranes, staithes lodged in silt, water topped up with ancient stevedore blood.” Ghost River

Stunningly beautiful one second, brutal the next.  He gets to the guts of what it means to be a modern human.”
Robert Francis, poet and host of Permission To Speak event, Stourbridge

In his poem, “Bevin Boy”, Harry illustrates why his work is considered a love letter to the people from the North East of England:

No bloody medal for you,
just backbreak and slack
that seeped through your lungs,
laying the eggs of the wheezes
that you always knew
would oneday sing you to sleep.

Harry Gallagher lives and writes on the North East coast. His work has been widelyHarry GChasing the Sunset published by, among others, The Stare’s Nest, Black Light Engine Room, Lucifer Press, Rebel Poetry, The Fat Damsel, Material, Alliterati, Dead Snakes, Write Minds and Clear Poetry.  He is co-founder of The Stanza, a monthly poetry night in Newcastle upon Tyne.

There will also be an opportunity for local writers to share their work in 5-minute slots during the Open Mic session. Please sign up with Francis Mitchell when you arrive or contact the Reading Room at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk.

Entrance is free for participants and members; £3 for non-members/non-participants. Tea, coffee and treats are served. Everyone is welcome. There is some parking at the hall and more on the street. Some of us stop into the Edinbane Inn for dinner around 6 p.m. Please feel free to join us.

We can be contacted at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

Saturday Afternoon OPEN MIC!

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Please note Rody Gorman is unable to be here but all else is a go! Come and enjoy an afternoon of refined and/or wacky writing at Aros on the Isle of Skye.

OPenMicJune 2

Domestic Noir Crime Writer Helen Fitzgerald Coming to Reading Room

Helen Fitzgerald

“I am not as dark and scary as my books!”

Helen Fitzgerald can make you laugh. A naughty laugh; a deep-throated huh-huh; a sly grinning diaphragm-raising bark; and she can elicit varieties of smilies, gigglies and guffaws–all the better for the reader, who will have to endure the gristle of societal atrocities the author attacks in her stories.

It is her trademark black humour that twists the contemporary crime she writes about into palatable irony the reader can actually enjoy. Of her 2016 novel, Viral, Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne novels, wrote, “A sobering fable of savagery in social media, it combines impressive storytelling with the courage to tackle the ugliness lurking beneath the shiny surface of the modern world.”

Fitzgerald has received flak and admiration for the book’s memorable first line and she states emphatically what makes it so powerful: “In just a few words, I’d nailed the inciting incident, the voice of the character and a problem hefty enough to drive the novel: Public shaming defines and destroys you…I am very proud of every line in

Helen F Viral

this book.  And I don’t apologise for the first one. I believe it’s the perfect way to start a story about social hypocrisy.”

The author’s writing is pacy, sharp, funny and disturbing: “…psychologically astute and well written at the level of the sentence….It is good to know that bestsellers don’t have to be stupid.” (Nicholas Lezard for The Guardian)

Australian-born Helen FitzGerald worked as a criminal justice social worker in Glasgow for over ten years, latterly with serious sex offenders in Barlinnie Prison. Her first novel, Dead Lovely, was written on maternity leave and published by Faber and Faber in June, 2008.

 

The best-selling author has written ten other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the UK’s top crimefiction award, Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Other projects Helen has produced are BBC Scotland television’s The Ancient Greeks and The Risk Races; feature film in development with Black Camel Films, The Devil’s Staircase; and a television series in development with BBC Scotland and Synchronicity Films, Dead Lovely.

We will welcome Helen Fitzgerald at our May 29 event, in Edinbane Community Hall, 7:30 p.m. Our events are open to the public. Admission is £5; members are free and our reasonable memberships are available at the door. Refreshments will be served. Please feel free to browse our Good Reads section, which includes the first two Reading Room anthologies – these are wonderful reading and include works from some local and Scottish writers you may know!

We welcome inquiries for memberships and information on our events. We can be contacted by e-mail at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

Pain and Pleasure: AGM followed by Paul Rees!

Admittedly, our April 24 meeting is about our Annual General Meeting, which, being a legal requirement, we are bound to hold. Click here for more info: AGM 2018.  We hope our members will be content to endure it along with us if we add some spice an’ pop to entice. The Reading Room loves an excuse to draw in members who can’t always show up at events but who might find allurement in the fact that they can come and have a say in what we’ve done the past year and where we will go the next year. It is also an opportunity to see neighbours and literary friends for an evening of business and pleasure. This year’s AGM offers something for everyone.

For those who revel in accounting, business entities, economics, marketing and organization, the first half of the night is your cookie! It must represent pain to many, as it’s like pulling the tooth to get them here. A bonus might be that you can nominate yourself to be on the hard-working committee and condemn yourself to a year of creative brain-storming to bring more fabulous writers to Skye. 

If the AGM is painful for you, the pleasure will be yours as well as ours, because we are delighted that writer and journalist Paul Rees has agreed to join us for the evening and give us, as he puts it, “a broad summation of 30 years’ acquired knowledge (or otherwise) writing about music”. 

Rees served as Editor-in-Chief of the music magazines Q and Kerrang! for a total of thirteen years up to 2012. During this period, he interviewed everybody from Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Iggy Pop to AC/DC, Noel Gallagher, Take That and Adele. His work has also been published in Sunday Times Culture, Sunday Times Magazine, the Telegraph, When Saturday Comes, Outdoor Fitness, Classic Rock, Lonely Planet and a host of other national and international magazines and periodicals. He also lectures in journalism and magazine craft at Lincoln University.

Paul Rees Three DegreesOur guest is also the author of five books. Among them are Robert Plant: A Life, the first major biography of the ex-Led Zeppelin singer, and The Three Degrees: The Men Who Changed British Football Forever, which was long-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award in 2014. He has co-authored ace session guitarist Steve Lukather’s memoir, The Gospel According to Luke, which will be published June of this year and he is currently at work on his next book – the authorised biography of the Who’s legendary bassist John Entwistle.

Please join us and let us know what we are doing that turns you on and what you would like to see us do in the coming year and if/how you would like to be involved. Everyone is welcome. There is no admission fee.

The meeting will be held in Edinbane Community Hall, from 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. There is some parking at the hall and plenty on the street.

For information on Reading Room events, our reasonable membership, or for suggestions, please contact us at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.