Review of November Book Week Scotland Event: Alastair Jackson

By Simon Clayton

The Spirit Is Willing…

The Reading Room were pleased to welcome photographer and author, Alastair Jackson, to a ‘Book Week Scotland’ event at Edinbane on Tuesday 19th November. A pleasing number of fifteen members and guests braved the drizzly night, to hear the former Skye resident talk about his collaborative work with poet Kenneth Steven.

The ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ is a homage to legendary poet Sorley MacLean and skillfully combines the poetry of Kenneth and the photography of Alastair. In spite of his doubts surrounding the publisher’s imposed title, Mr Jackson went through the evocative and haunting images in the book, on slides, each accompanied by an appropriate poem.

Mostly seascapes and all monochrome, the photographs brought to life the wonderful boundaries of Skye and Raasay and made many of us want to visit some of the vantage points Alastair used. Many were subsequently put off when learning of the difficulties of access, and the (up to) 5-hour walks involved!

The topics brought to life by the photos and poems were very much the stuff of Skye’s history and a wider Scottish context. Depopulation was well demonstrated and one brooding picture of Storr Lochs – entitled ‘After Culloden’ – clearly told a wider story. Each image seemed to bring the ever-changeable Skye weather into play, to great effect.

After the presentation and questions, we all enjoyed the usual delicious home baking and hot drinks which helped the group have a good ‘blether’ – which is, after all, this year’s concept for Book Week Scotland. The icing on the cake was to learn subsequently that ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ has been listed for the next Highland Book Award. We wish Alastair well in the judging of that competition.

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.

 

New Poetry Collection by Kenneth Steven

Cover-1_Iona-Poems

 

 We’ve been waiting for Kenneth Steven’s new book of Iona-inspired poems and here it is.

 

The poet told us that all of the poems in this collection are Haiku-esque, but they don’t intend to be paying formal homage to the genre: ‘These are intended to be little meditations on the island and its story.’ 

 

KS-page1

KS-page2

It is a little book, so the price is pretty little too.  A single copy, with postage, is £8. Two copies, again with postage, will be £15, and three £20. This lovely gem would be a special gift for yourself and/or friends.

Correspondence and payment  may be mailed to Kenneth Steven at the address below or go to his web page. Let him know dedications you might like him to write and please include your home address to make things easier and swifter for him.

Little Narnia
Spoutwells
Dunkeld
PH8 0AZ
Scotland

www.kennethsteven.co.uk