A.C. Clarke Taking Poetry to the World

…and she is bringing her varied talents to the Reading Room this month, giving a talk illustrated by readings along the lines ‘From Saxons to Surrealism’, charting her development as a poet.

She is a poet but is also a judge of poetry. This means to me that she is someone who understands what it takes to create fine poesy and who also can take us as writers to another level from simply writing poetry, to recognizing what will be meaningful to others – is our writing universal?

As a translator, A.C.Clarke is interested in the discipline of language and in getting inside the skin of the translated poet. Her penchant for gaining the perspectives of others also is gratified by writing about marginalised and historical figures like the ‘wild girl of Champagne’, ‘Wild Peter’ and Helen Duncan (the last person in the UK to be tried for witchcraft). Her fifth collection of poems, A Troubling Woman (Oversteps Books, 2017), is centred on the life of the medieval visionary Margery Kempe and serves as a companion to her poem collection about the atheist priest Jean Meslier, Fr Meslier’s Confession. Both examine the various aspects of belief and doubt.

The poet has been involved for several years in ‘polishing’ poems and short stories by Romanian writers. Her poems have been translated into Romanian (most recently in the new Anthology of Scottish Poets, Diehard Press 2016) and into Albanian, Arabic, German and Italian. She has experience of working with refugee poets and is also a qualified Further Education teacher.

A.C. Clarke moved to Scotland in 2002, after retiring from teaching and university administration. At that time, she began taking her writing more seriously and since then, the world of poetry has been acknowledging her work. She has been regularly published and invited to appear at events in Scotland. Her work has been awarded, commended, long-listed and short-listed regularly since 2004. She was Makar for the Federation of Writers (Scotland) 2007-2008 and is an active member of Scottish PEN.

” …sulphur woven into a scarf of fog, incense cloying my brain in the church where once the marble altar steps rose up to meet my forehead, seamed it for life.”

Most recently, Owersettin, a pamphlet in English, Scots and Gaelic in collaboration with Maggie Rabatski and Sheila Templeton, was published by Tapsalteerie in 2016. She was one of four joint prizewinners in the 2017 Cinnamon Poetry Pamphlet Competition and her winning pamphlet, War Baby, was published by Cinnamon Press early in 2018.

She is currently working on a harebrained scheme to translate all of Paul Éluard’s poems (at least 1,000) before she dies! and on an ever-expanding series of poems about his first wife Gala (Dali) and the Surrealist circle.

Please join the Reading Room for our Tuesday, June 26 meeting at Edinbane Hall, at 7:30 p.m., and welcome A.C. Clarke for an evening of poetry and inspiration.

Admission for non-members is £5. Everyone is welcome. Refreshments will be served and our Good Reads table will be available for perusal and purchase of new and used gems.

For information on events and our reasonably-priced! memberships, please contact us via e-mail at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

 

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Ross Sayers Brings ‘Wee Mary’ Back to Skye

Our evening reading on Tuesday, March 27, promises to tutor us on how to get successfully inside the head of a young girl, which author Ross Sayers does with gusto in his novel, ‘Mary’s the Name’, released by Cranachan Publishing, in January 2017.

8-year-old Mary Sutherland is a funny and profound lass who tells her story that appears to charm everyone who reads it. Wee Mary is an orphan who lives with her Granpa in Stirling. When her Granpa gets mixed up in a robbery at his work, the pair flee to the Isle of Skye, but trouble soon follows. The book’s main themes are family, friendship and the loss of innocence.

‘Mary’s the Name’ is all the more interesting to us Skye folk because Mary’s tale involves many of our favorite (but perhaps stuck in our scrap books?) local spots and landmarks. Her favorite building is on Quay Street…can you guess which one?

Ross Sayers grew up and attended university in Stirling, where he found his passion for writing Scottish fiction about ‘real, honest and (most of the time) swear-y characters’. He says he enjoys reading his work to a crowd, ‘especially if I get to do silly voices’.

Please join the Reading Room for an evening with Ross Sayers, at Edinbane Community Hall. We want to hear those silly voices along with the backstory of Mary and the inspirational Portree muses.

There is no charge for members; £5 for non-members, but our very reasonable membership may be purchased at the door. Refreshments are served at break, when we can schmooze with our guest and browse the Good Reads.

For information about our programmes, membership or for other questions, please contact us at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

More coming up…

April 24: AGM, with guest speaker. Everyone welcome. This is your chance to bicker and spit and hopefully offer some constructive goals for the Reading Room. –

 

Great Bloody Scotland, It’s Alex Gray!

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‘Brings Glasgow to life in the same way Ian Rankin evokes Edinburgh’        Daily Mail

It figures that a fresh graduate of English and Philosophy, who is dauntless enough to do time as a visiting officer for the (now defunct) Department of Social Security, would have the savvy to transform her encounters into riveting crime fiction later in her life. She also taught English to high schoolers, a profession with no small requirement for grit and wiliness.

Crime may hide in the shadows, but author Alex Gray will no longer keep to them with her reputation bounding alongside other high-ranking crime fiction novelists. The Reading Room is excited to announce her appearance for our February 27 meeting.

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‘Few have matched the sustained high quality of [Alex Gray’s] output …What she delivers is sound characterisation, convincing Glaswegian atmosphere and superior writing.’     The Times

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. She was briefly a folk singer as a student in Glasgow. She taught for ten years until diagnosis of an illness forced her to quit, in 1993; thus commenced the fulfillment of a dream to write professionally. This led to immediate success with short stories, articles and commissions for BBC radio programmes. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. 

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, her previous novels include Five Ways to Kill a ManGlasgow KissPitch BlackThe RivermanNever Somewhere ElseThe Swedish Girl and Keep the Midnight Out.

Alex Gray is the co-founder, along with Tartan Noir crime novelist Lin Anderson, of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012. These two writers, with Alanna Knight, are the Femmes Fatales crime writing trio–“intriguing, quirky and highly enjoyable”, according to Edinburgh Evening News.

 

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‘Wide-ranging and interwoven strands woven into an engrossing plot … she pulls them gleefully and artistically together . . . a writer ready to join the top rank of crime authors’            Daily Express

Gray’s forthcoming book, Only the Dead Can Tell,  will be published this March 22. It is the landmark 15th DSI William Lorimer novel.

We look forward to seeing all of you at Alex Gray’s reading on February 27, in Edinbane Community Hall. The programme begins at 7:30 p.m., with refreshments served at intermission. There will be plenty of time for Q & A, so along with a grand welcome for this acclaimed Scottish crime writer, bring your curiosity for how she done it.

Admission is £5 and free for members. Our reasonably priced memberships are always available at our meetings and online. Feel free to browse our Cheap-O Great Read selection or to add to the assortment. Also available are volumes of our anthology series, Words From An Island.

For information about our programmes, membership or for other questions, please contact us at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

More coming up…

March 16: Open Mic at An Crùbh, Duisdale, organised in conjunction with SEALL.

March 27: Ross Sayers, reading from his debut novel, Mary’s the Name, which takes place in Stirling and on Skye.

April 24: AGM, with guest speaker. Everyone welcome. This is your chance to bicker and spit and hopefully offer some constructive goals for the Reading Room – refreshments served to make it sweeter, along with a special speaker.

The Reading Room (Seòmar Leughaidh) receives support from the Live Literature Fund, Scottish Book Trust.SBT logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait for Me Cynthia Rogerson!

Our October guest reader has me hollering like the late-bloomer that I am. I will never catch up with her writing accomplishments. In my defense, I am sure she has more hours in the day than I do…

Prizewinning author Cynthia Rogerson writes mainstream literary fiction, set in Scotland and in California—two places she knows well, as she lives in one and hails from the other. Her latest of five novels is Wait for Me, Jack (Sandstone 2016) under pen name Addison Jones.  It inspired a lovely review from Tim Pears: “…this is a proper love story – that is the miracle Jones has wrought. This novel is a lesson, not in how to find love, but how to make love last.

A Dangerous Place (winner of the V.S. Pritchett Prize 2009) was lauded by AL Kennedy, Jackie Kay and Bernard MacLaverty, among many others. In fact, I could accuse her of contriving to enkindle warm fuzzies within the hearts of those inclined to write enthusiastic reviews, but can I do that to someone who is wielding weapons like “wisdom” and “brilliance” and “startling authenticity” ? Laura Marney, one of the Glasgow G7, accuses Rogerson of being a North American writer with Scottish sensibilities: “Her humour is sly, her characterisation superb, she winkles out and makes heroic the average nerd in all of us. She is a courteous rebel and currently one of Scotland’s best writers.

Janet Paisley chose Rogerson’s Love Letters from my Death Bed as her favorite book of 2007 for Sunday Herald, calling it “…zany, wise and deliciously funny…”  Laura Hird also gave the book her fave rave for Scotland on Sunday.

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Rogerson has also published a collection of short stories. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, been broadcast on BBC radio and has been translated into five languages.

She holds a Royal Literary Fellowship at Dundee University and supervises on the Creative Writing Program at Edinburgh University. Originally from the San Francisco area, she has been based in the Scottish Highlands since 1985 and lives with her husband and hens near Inverness.

On Tuesday, October 31, at 7:30 p.m., everyone is invited to join the Reading Room at Edinbane Community Hall, to welcome this gifted writer, enjoy the readings of her work and learn some of her secrets about the art of writing.

Admittance is £5 for non-members; our reasonable memberships are available at the door, so please ask. Our good reads table is always there for the browsing and refreshments are served.

For more information about this event or about the Reading Room, contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

*Cynthia Rogerson’s appearance is part-funded by the Live Literature Fund via the Scottish Book Trust.

 

Mark Douglas-Home Coming to Edinbane

Calling all beachcombers, maritime curiosity seekers and amateur detective-cum-sea watchers who might get a thrill from finding a severed foot on a Scottish shore–the three-novel series of our September guest reader is for you.
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Mark Douglas-Home is the creator of Cal McGill, a compelling oceanographer who is an expert on using shipping records, ocean currents and prevailing winds to track the movements of mysterious items that show up on the coastline of Western Scotland.
In tracking the movement of his 2011 novel The Sea Detective, and sequels, The Woman Who Walked into the Sea and The Malice of Waves (2016), I’ve found a cache of readers who find his protagonist’s forensic adventures fascinating, and who are further enamoured of the books because of the author’s use of oceanography and the landscape and culture of the Scots.
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The Literary Review  named The Sea Detective one of the Top Five Crime Novels of the Year, and it was the Sunday Times’  “Crime Book of the Month”  in the UK. The review of the book in the Scotsman said,There comes a time when a novel raises the bar for a particular genre, and Mark Douglas-Home’s debut The Sea Detective does just that for Scottish crime fiction. Elegantly written and compelling, it introduces a new, thoroughly modern hero into the crime-fighting canon.”

Douglas-Home has a rich history of fine journalism. Senior roles with The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and Sunday Times Scotland culminated in editorship of Scotland’s leading daily newspaper, The Herald, from 2000-2005.
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Something quite jolly has come out of Douglas-Home’s earliest career experience. As a student newspaper editor in Johannesburg, South Africa, a number of his editions were banned and he was deported from the country. The heart of his first protagonist may just have been conceived in the spirit of that young man so many years ago at the University of the Witwatersrand.
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The Reading Room presents Mark Douglas-Home on Tuesday, 26 September, at 7:30 p.m., in Edinbane Community Hall. Everyone is welcome. Entry fee for members is free, £5 for guests. Extra parking is on the street.
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For additional information on the Reading Room, please get in touch with us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Face Book at the Reading Room – Skye.

*This event is part-funded by the Live Literature Fund via the Scottish Book Trust.

What’s the Story? Folklorist Margaret Bennett to discuss a lifetime fascination with local tradition


A meeting with Margaret Bennett requires no enticement unless you are not aware of who she is. If a stirring has brought you to Scotland and the Isle of Skye, and you find yourself absorbed in the traditions of the people who have lived here and you endeavour to visit and study historical sites, listen to the music and read the books about them, our July meeting should be marked with a star and arrangements should be made to bring your friends who have these same interests. It should not be missed.

A little more allurement…if you have become obsessed with the culture of the Gaels and Scots and the Lowlands and the Highlands and the Isles, and if you hear the whisperings of the past that have created the voice of today and they send a trilling through your own spirit, Margaret Bennett right now is being added to your calendar and there is nothing that will prevent you from an evening with “Scotland’s foremost folklorist”!

Margaret comes from a family of tradition bearers, whom she describes: “A Hebridean, Gaelic-speaking mother and Lowland, Scots-speaking father, who both spoke English. One sang Gaelic songs, the other hee-durram-haw-durrams and played the bagpipes. One leaned far to the left, the other did not. They raised four children between two cultures, three languages, surrounded by a wealth of domestic, social, religious, cultural and political paradoxes.”

Bennett has written over ten books, including Scottish Customs From the Cradle to the Grave. She is a member of the Scottish Storytelling Forum. Her life has been filled with music, traditional and revival, and she has featured on media productions and music productions with her son, the late, sensational international star of the Celtic music scene, Martyn Bennett.

The folklorist, writer, singer and broadcaster will bring her wealth of talent and knowledge to the Edinbane Hall for an evening event at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25, to talk about what inspired her to write about the traditions of Scotland and the Scottish diaspora. Her talk will be illustrated with fieldwork examples of recordings and photos of Skye tradition bearers, whose way of life, songs and stories are now recorded for posterity.

Everyone is welcome. Admission fee is £5; free for members.

Workshop: Earlier that day, Margaret will lead a workshop at the Shinty Club in Portree, at 2:00 p.m. She will instruct on how to research and record oral traditions for local archives and/or as an accurate resource for writers. The workshop will begin with an overview of the exemplary work undertaken by the School of Scottish Studies fieldworker, Eric Cregeen (1924-1983), colleague of Calum Maclean and founding member of the Oral History Society. Cregeen is regarded internationally as one of the most influential oral historians of our time.

The afternoon session offers an informal and practical introduction to oral history interviewing, with an opportunity to handle recording equipment and discuss some of the issues around oral history, life stories and memory. Topics include how to document the material to preserve local tradition and how writers can research and use the material in their own writing. The fee is £5; members are free. Please feel welcome to show up if you find you would like to attend. Skye Camanachd Shinty Clubhouse (Pairc Nan Laoch) is located on Struan Road across from the West Highland College, on the way out of Portree.

For more information about these events, Reading Room membership or general questions, please get in touch with us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Face Book at the Reading Room – Skye.

Both the evening talk and the workshop are part-funded by the Live Literature Fund via the Scottish Book Trust.

Brian Johnstone and Trio Verso: Book Week Scotland on Skye.

The Reading Room is privileged to present Brian Johnstone and Trio Verso, for our Book Week Scotland 2015 celebration on Wednesday,  November 25, at Skeabost Memorial Hall.

Trio Verso: Brian Johnstone, Richard Ingham, Louise Major. Photo credit: Al Buntin

Scottish poet, Brian Johnstone, is a well- known figure on the Scottish poetry scene. He is a published poet with six collections to his name, a literary event organizer of broad experience and a live performer of his poems, both as a solo reader and with various musical collaborators.

Johnstone’s poetry has been published extensively across Scotland, in the rest of the UK, in the USA and Latin America, as well as in various European countries. The poet has given readings at numerous literary venues in Scotland, and at poetry festivals and other locations in England, around Europe and in Central and North America. His work has been translated into over a dozen European languages and is published in the respective countries. His latest poetry collection is Dry Stone Work.

As a live performer, Brian Johnstone is the poet/reader with Trio Verso, also featuring Richard Ingham (saxes, bass clarinet) and Louise Major (bass). Performing poetry & jazz improv since 2007, the trio has appeared at festivals and literary venues across Scotland, making its first appearance in England in 2011, at the Ted Hughes Festival. Their CD Storm Chaser appeared in 2010.

The recipient of a Scottish Arts Council Writer’s Bursary in 1998, Brian Johnstone has also received a number of Development Awards from the SAC and Creative Scotland. A prizewinner in the National Poetry Competition in 2000, he has won several other competitions, including the Writers’ Bureau Prize, the Mallard Prize and Poetry at the Fringe, during the Edinburgh Festival.

In 1991, he was a founder of Edinburgh’s Shore Poets and, throughout the 1990s, ran the Cave Readings series for the Pittenweem Arts Festival. From 1998-2003, he taught creative writing in poetry for The University of St Andrews Centre for Continuing Education, and from 1998-2000, for the Open College of the Arts. A founder in 1998 of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, he was Festival Director from 2001-2010 and remained on the staff as Festival Consultant until 2013. In 2014, he was appointed an Honorary President of StAnza.

Over the years, Brian Johnstone has organized poetry events for the Words Out! Festival, Perth; for Visual Arts Scotland; and for the American literary tour group, Book Adventures. He has been a frequent events chair for the Edinburgh International Book Festival and has judged poetry competitions, including the Wigtown Book Festival International Poetry Prize and the William Soutar Writing Prize, as well as serving on the panel for the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers’ Awards.

This event is sponsored by Scottish Book Trust and begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to join us for this lively gathering. We look forward to seeing all of you. Please note that there is no bar, so bring your own bottles.

Directions to Skeabost Memorial Hall: grid NG420484. A850, 4 miles from Portree on Dunvegan Rd. Last right before Skeabost Bridge, at Tote/Prabost/Peinmore turn. Immediate Left – look for lights. (18 miles from Dunvegan).