Open Mic at SEALL’s An Crùbh

   My weather report for Friday, March 16, promises sunny skies in your eyes and balmy warmth in your heart for the coming spring. With clear roads to literary expression, all you need to do is get yourself ready with a bit of poetry or verse to read and head to the Sleat Peninsula for the Reading Room’s Open Mic, starting at 7:00 p.m.
   Our own Francis Mitchell has connected with SEALL’s Duncan MacInnes, to bring us to An Crùbh’s spacious modern café, with its cozy inglenook and selection of beguiling dishes, desserts and beverages for purchase. Bring your appetites and enthusiasm.

    Local and visiting writers are encouraged to come and read. English and Gaelic are welcome and perhaps a song with lyrics you wrote. Duncan has requested that readers book their 5-minute slot if possible, via the Seall website The Reading Room 16th March.

   If your inclination runs to sitting on the sidelines, we have that too. Please join us for some wonderful entertainment from our talented participants. There is no entry fee for this event.

  An Crùbh, Duisdale, is on the A851, on the right, about half a mile after passing the Isleornsay turn-off.
   Please direct questions for the Reading Room to or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.





Writers are winners

The Skye & Raasay Schools’ Gaelic and English writing competition, organised by the Reading Room (Seòmar Leughaidh), as part of Book Week Scotland 2017, proved to be a resounding success. Over 60 entries on the theme of ‘Nourish’ were shortlisted and put before a panel of experienced judges, which included four retired Head teachers and three distinguished Gaelic speakers

The objective of the Writing Competition was to encourage children and young people of all abilities to write, and to reward both the best and those who had made great progress in their writing.

The quality of the winning entries was exceptional. The young authors explored the theme of Nourish in diverse ways: feeding the heart, the spirit and the mind, as well as the body. Some entries were humorous and others were descriptive or sensitive. The judges enjoyed a feast of good writing from all age groups.

The Reading Room is grateful for the substantial prizes donated by:

        • Alexander McCall Smith
        • Ian Rankin
        • Gilleasbuig Ferguson
        • Chris Watkiss
        • Alasdair Galbraith
        • the Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company
        • Cafesia
        • Sabhal Mor Ostaig
        • Urras an Eilein
        • Glasgow Skye Association
        • the Highland Council
        • the Highland Society of London


    Many thanks are due also to all the pupils who took part, their teachers, the panel of judges and last but certainly not least a huge thank you to Ann Galbraith for all the time and energy she devoted to this project – a great achievement indeed.

CANCELLED: Open Mic to be Hosted at An Crùbh in Sleat

(This month’s Reading Room meets on Friday, January 19, 7:00 p.m., at An Crùbh, Duisdale, organised in conjunction with SEALL.)
  It’s dark outside the meagre, oval window next to my face. Below me, I’ve been watching North America switch on its evening lights, but now, as we near Greenland, no twinkles beckon in the darkness so I turn my mind to the Hebrides as the airline pilot heads toward the Continent. As Skye is denied to me for the present, those who live on the isle seem even more fortunate, and Reading Room gatherings appear with a misty golden aura around them.
   Our recent venture into open-mic-land satisfies my yearning for a platform that supports established writers and those whose writing voices have been silent but ferociously or tentatively scribbling…the latter compositions perhaps crafted on bleak days of winter, jotted down in spare moments between B&B duties, or conceived during walks on windy shores or drives for the monthly Inverness shopping spree. 
    Whence comes inspiration for the experienced and the neophyte, alike? And the passion that drives the need to write–why must we do this? Why, also, are we compelled to read what others write?
   Why would anyone miss the chance to share the essential stream of creativity that flows through our gifted people? The yield from one’s work is always a gift. Francis Mitchell is the perfect host for our Open Mic, because I believe he honors each artist who stands before our audience, and which one of us of us can’t use a champion at our back?
     As my aircraft nears the tip of Iceland, I envision my image of Skye as the rampant lion with its clawed peninsulas pawing and Trotternish roaring its lion head, and I think, “Roar, all of you wild folk down there, pick up that bright little poem you just worked out, that lovely musing verse that arose with the first spark in your morning stove, and get out there and read.”
   More to my point, read at this month’s joyful occasion when the Reading Room is connecting with SEALL (thanks to Francis and SEALL’s Duncan MacInnes) to bring us to An Crùbh’s spacious modern café, with its cozy inglenook (scrumptious dishes and desserts and beverages are available for purchase). SEALL organizers say, “Our ambition at the outset was to put Skye firmly on the map as an arts and cultural destination and to celebrate the wealth of home-grown talent in the area.” What a jolly plan to get the two organizations together and hopefully concoct more occasions.
   Local and visiting writers are encouraged to come and read. English and Gaelic are welcome and perhaps a song with lyrics you wrote. If you shy from expressing yourself in the spotlight or don’t even jot down those important but unappreciated stories and poems that pop out of the heather or kettle, come along to brighten the event and enjoy the good cheer and maybe weep a tear. Duncan has requested that readers book a slot  (via the Seall website and if possible):
   There is no entry fee for this event.
  Please direct questions for the Reading Room to or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.



Andrew Greig Coming to Sligachan Hotel Saturday 14th May

We are delighted to present two events on Saturday, May 14.

In the evening, we will meet at the Sligachan Hotel, for poetry and music with novelist, poet, writer and musician, Andrew Greig. He is the author of eiAndrewGreigght novels: the last, Fair Helen, was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize 2014, and his fifth novel, In Another Light, won the 2004 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year award. He has published nine poetry collections, four non-fiction books, and we look forward to hearing selections of the music he has recorded.

AndrewGriegGreenCorriesGreig says his second poetry collection, Men on Ice (1977), changed his life. He had been what he calls an ‘armchair climber’, attracted by ‘the imagery and intensities’ of climbing – however, mountaineer Mal Duff took Greig’s metaphors literally and invited him on a real Himalayan expedition. Greig climbed on three such expeditions, which led him to write books on them, which took him on to writing novels. Distinctions and prizes in three mediums have established Andrew Greig as one of the leading Scottish writers of his generation.

Andrew Greig and Lesley Glaister

Andrew Greig and Lesley Glaister


Yet Greig considers poetry to be a higher art form – second only to music- using the analogy: ‘Prose is draughts, poetry is chess. Chess in four dimensions…. the additional element of sound, of cadence and phrasing.’ He carries this attention to the music of language into his prose, which reviews have described as ‘lyrical’ and ‘dazzling’.

Grieg is currently writing a book with Mike Heron, of the ex-Incredible String Band, and says, ‘Its working title is Footsteps of the Heron, due out in October 2016. It will be appropriately unconventional, a combination of Heron’s first ever autobiographical writing about his life and times in music that changed my life and that of many others. This will be intercut with my memoir of growing up provincial in the latter 60s… it is some kind of parallel  memoir thing, in the course of which Deep Themes may emerge.’

AndrewGreig2For the evening, entry is free for members; non-members £5 on the door. Join us there for supper, from 6 p.m. Andrew Greig will take the floor at 7:30 p.m.

In the afternoon, in central Portree, we will host a Writing Workshop with Lesley Glaister– fiction writer, playwright and teacher of writing. She received both a Somerset Maugham and a Betty Trask award for HonourAndrewGreigLesleywalking Thy Father (1990), won the Yorkshire Post Author of the Year Award in 1993, for Limestone and Clay, and has been short and long-listed for literary prizes for her other novels. Several of her dramas have broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and her first stage play, Bird Calls, was performed at Sheffield’s Crucible Studio Theatre, in 2004.

Glaister’s workshop will be a treasure for writers, due not only to her gift as a writer, but her  cache of experience in surviving the rise (accolades and awards), fall (being dropped by a longtime publisher) and courageous slog back uphill, in her publishing career.

She writes, ‘For the last few books with my main-stream publisher I had felt a subtle pressure to write something a bit different, to move away from my own style of gothic, darkly humorous novels towards something approaching the psychological thriller, with more ‘normal’ characters… to write something more marketable.  Being dropped meant I could stick two metaphorical fingers up and write exactly what I wanted, just as I had when I first started writing.  And this rather exhilarating freedom enabled me to return to Little Egypt, a book I’d been struggling with for years for several reasons, important amongst which was a suspicion that my publisher wouldn’t like it.  So, set free, I wrote just what the hell I wanted, just the way I wanted to.’AndrewGreigLesleyegypt

The author received a Jerwood Foundation Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, for Little Egypt, and her poem, Visiting the Animal, was chosen as one of Scottish Poetry Library’s 20 Best Scottish poems of 2015.

Her workshop will place emphasis on using memories & visualisation to start writing.

Places are very limited. Reading Room members have priority in booking until the end of April, at the discounted fee of £5. If any places remain, they will be £10 per head. The workshop includes tea, coffee & home baking.

To book or for more information on these May 14 events, mail or message us through Facebook.




An Evening with Poet Mark O. Goodwin

Mark o goodwin

Our February guest for the Skye Reading Room is poet Mark O. Goodwin. He will be reading a selection of his work written over the last fifteen years. 

His standout publication is Dà Thaobh a’ Bhealaich / The Two Sides of the Pass (Ravens Press, 2009), a collaboration with poet Maoilios Caimbeul. This unique book is a bilingual poetic conversation that takes place from the two sides of Skye’s Trotternish peninsula, with an exchange between two cultures, English-speaking and Gaelic-speaking. It is about the places to which you belong, families and kinship, and ties to the land.

In a 2009 interview, Goodwin stated that one thing that struck him was the great sadness in the Skye landscape and he wanted to find out why. This is interesting, because the poem selected by the Scottish Poetry Library from this book to be included as one of the best of Scottish poetry in 2009, is a delightful, humorous and ironic poem, titled Skye. In it, the narrator is having a relationship with the Isle of Skye: 

Skye, are we falling out or is it

that we are spending too much time

in each other’s company…

Tha thu gam chur às no chiall. You’re driving me nuts.

The poet said he tried to make (Skye) ‘a lived and loved place with all the confusions that an incomer might have, especially when feeling a Gaelic word or two in the mouth for the first time’.

 Mark O. Goodwin’s poems have appeared in various anthologies, including the Reading Room’s first anthology, Words from an Island. His work has been published in Northwords Now; Literal World Magazine; The Eildon Tree; and Nerve Magazine. He has received numerous special awards and performed at StAnza festivals and others  throughout Scotland.

Our Tuesday, February 23rd meeting will convene from 7:00 p.m., at Tigh na Sgire, on Park Lane, in Portree, next to the Community Center.

All are welcome. Entry is free for members; £5 for non-members. Teas and coffees will be available and our Book Stall will offer a variety of good reads for sale.

Mark O. Goodwin’s appearance is partly funded by Live Literature via Scottish Book Trust.


Anthology Launch: Volume 2

7:30 pm


Volume 2 of our ‘Words from an Island’ Anthology Series


This was Volume 1
IMG_1217What colour will volume 2 be?

Come and see!


                                                       SKEABOST HOTEL                                



ENTRY £5 AT THE DOOR Members & contributors free



See you in September

The Reading Room will be dark in August, while everyone enjoys the summer weather that has come upon us.

Join us for our long-awaited evening with author and journalist, Roger Hutchinson, on Tuesday, September 29. Hutchinson will discuss his book, St Kilda: A People’s History, which delves into the highly romanticized lives of the Scottish Gaels who lived on this group of islands.  

While you anticipate our next meeting, be sure to fill the void with the exciting Skye Book Festival/Feis Leabhraichean An Eilein 2015, at Aros, in Portree, September 3-5.  With the line-up of favorite writers and artists, and the PBFA Antiquarian Book Fair, you may stave off hunger for author contact for the next few weeks until we see you again. Check out the Festival here:  Buy your tickets here:

The Reading Room regrets that there will be no Baker Prize competition for 2015, but the launch of the Second Reading Room Anthology will take place on October 27 of this year.

Mum is the word for now, but we are running up to a big event in November, which should bring a little froth to your literary mugs. More on that soon, so til then, keep reading and writing those books.