Happy 700th Birthday – a review..

The Skye Reading Room hosted a birthday party with a difference on the evening of Tuesday 25th February. The Declaration of Arbroath was sent by the Barons of Scotland to the Pope in 1320, begging for help against the bullying of the English King. The famous extract from the letter, highlighting the focus on freedom, is legendary to all Scots and many others around the World. It was thought that a discussion on the topic of Scottish Independence, in particular looking at literary output in connection with the subject, would make for a lively evening, and so it proved. Seventeen souls braved the weather and it was particularly encouraging to see so many new faces in attendance. Messages of support were received from the offices of Ian Blackford and Kate Forbes, who would have both welcomed the observation that the majority of attendees were in favour of Independence, after 700 years of waiting.

A contingent from The Common Weal were present and they had a variety of relevant publications to share. Most people brought suitable books or recommendations of appropriate writers, while the Chairman circulated the draft of a book list to assist with future reading.

Refreshments including cake, banana bread, and flapjacks were appreciated and would have kept us going late into the night, as the conversation never looked like flagging. However, eventually we had to call a halt and people were still enjoying each other’s company, as we ushered them out and locked up for the night.

A fascinating evening and particularly encouraging was the sense that everyone supporting independence seemed very clear on this being achieved in a civilised manner, thus protecting relationships for the future.

Simon Clayton – Chairman

The Reading Room invites you to a book party…

“For as long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions, be subjected to the lordship of the English.  It is in truth, not for glory, nor riches nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

 

Theme:      Happy 700th Birthday to the Declaration of Arbroath
Place:        Edinbane Community Hall
Date:         Tuesday 25th February 2020 (and, yes, we know it’s about 5 weeks early!)
Time:         7:30pm
Entry:        Free
Format:     Come and join a friendly discussion on whether 700 years is long enough to wait. Bring, suggest, or swap books involving the struggle for independence. Highlight creative works that have flowed from the situation. Suggest how the future could unfold. Above all, have a good chat and enjoy some delightful home baking accompanied by tea and coffee.

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Next event: Postponed meantime
Helen Sedgwick’s Skye launch of ‘When The Dead Come Calling’
Place:         Portree Library
Date:          Tuesday 31st March 2020
Time:          6:30pm
Entry:         Free

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If you need more information please contact us at: skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk
or via Facebook: The Reading Room – Skye.

Alastair Jackson Blethers With His Camera: Spirit of the Hebrides

Tuesday Evening, November 19, 7.30 pm, Edinbane Hall, Free Admission

Book Week Scotland is the annual event which celebrates books and reading, sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust. We invite the public to come and play with this year’s theme, Blether. Bring your passion for reading and propensity to chin-wag, and join us at Edinbane Community Hall on Tuesday, 19th November, at 7.30 p.m.

Our merrymaking will center around Skye and Raasay and island life, with Alastair Jackson, co-author of The Spirit of the Hebrides. The book combines the poetry of Kenneth Steven with the photography of Mr. Jackson and features images of Skye and Raasay in homage to one of Scotland’s leading 20th century poets, Sorley MacLean.

Alastair JacksonAlistair Jackson is a photographer who grew up on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland; the environment has inspired him to create images which reflect this. He has been exhibiting since 2016, and his interest in wandering the hills and coast bring a psychogeographical dimension to his work, along with his interest in the history and culture of the Highlands. His photographs capture the sublime beauty of the isles, and those of us who love them should appreciate the familiar haunting quality of the images.

In addition, Alastair has sought to collaborate with a range of other creators, including artists Kate McMorrine and Moira Buchanan; photographer Ingrid Budge; and broadcaster & record producer, John Cavanagh.

His latest projects broaden his scope of work to look at environmental issues which are currently causing concern.

Kenneth Steven, Skeabost Hotel, 2015

Kenneth Steven, Skeabost Hotel, 2015

Kenneth Steven grew up in the Scottish Highlands and is first and foremost a poet. In late April, 2015, the Reading Room had the pleasure of his company for a companionable, informative and inspiring afternoon workshop and impressive evening reading. His gentle, contemplative nature worked its charm on the audience and he is fondly remembered and wished well on this collaboration with Alastair. The Spirit of the Hebrides, with Alastair Jackson’s stunning photography, must have touched what Kenneth is most interested in – the link between people and their land, what makes individuals the way they are, and how that identity is shaped and changed by wild places in particular. Though he will not be with us for the evening, we will naturally be blethering about his literary contribution to the book.

This event is funded by Scottish Book Trust. Admission is free. Refreshments will be served.

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

 

Review of October Event: James Oswald

By Debbie Roberts

It was a delight to meet James Oswald last week and hear him read from ‘Natural Causes’ and talk about his writing.

It appears that this farmer, writer and all round nice guy has spend most of his life writing in one style or another – comics, fantasy, crime with a sprinkling of the supernatural – you name it he’s almost certainly tried it.

Success as an author in financial terms has only come fairly recently and holidays as a couple are well nigh impossible with an extended family of beef cattle.

One of the characters in the Inspector McLean series is named after James’ friend and fellow writer Stuart MacBride. I’m still trying to figure out whether DI Tony McLean might in fact be James Oswald!!

If ever you get a chance to hear James speak don’t hesitate – you won’t be disappointed…

Next Event
Join us to celebrate Book Week Scotland at Edinbane Community Hall on Tuesday 19th November. We’ll be having a blether about Skye and Raasay and island life with Alastair Jackson – co-author of ‘The Spirit of the Hebrides’ : Word and Images inspired by Sorley Maclean.

The event is free and everyone is welcome so don’t be shy…

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.

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