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

DUE TO HEAVY SNOWFALL ON SLEAT PENINSULA, OPEN MIC HAS BEEN CANCELLED, TO OUR REGRET. THANKS FOR BEING HERE–RE-SCHEDULED ASAP!!
(This month’s Reading Room meets on Friday, January 19, 7:00 p.m., at An Crùbh, Duisdale, organised in conjunction with SEALL.)
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  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): http://www.seall.co.uk/events/the-reading-room-19-jan/
   There is no entry fee for this event.
  Please direct questions for the Reading Room to skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

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looking forward to 2018

A quick preview of the next few events planned for the Reading Room – suggestions welcome for future dates/events etc

7pm Friday 19th January 2018 – an Open Mic evening at  An Crùbh, Duisdale – organised in conjunction with SEALL –  all welcome. More here

7.30pm Tuesday 27th February 2018 –  an evening with crime writer Alex Gray Edinbane Community Hall.

7.30 Tuesday 27th March 2018 –  another evening event at Edinbane Community Hall awaiting final confirmation – watch this space

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.

Roger Hutchinson Reads From New Book (AGM follows)

Our guest reader for Tuesday, April 25, will be Roger Hutchinson, who will be giving us a glimpse into his new book, The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker : The Story of Britain Through It’s Census Since 1801.

Brave Roger. To have taken on the quest to create a cohesive (and interesting) statement about Britain’s census with any number of pages suggests to me 700 milliliters of whisky at 43% and 100 grams of 84% chocolate. What was he smoking?

Thank goodness census records aren’t all numbers. Or at least the digits tell stories that we wouldn’t have without them. With the national census, people began to lose anonymity. We began to find out what the population was, who died and from what, and the numbers became the colour and texture of life–a self-portrait of the British Isles.

For example: Britain in 1801 still had its share of nomadic descendants and the enumerators had to follow them to their haunts: “The numbers living out of houses vary with the seasons; in winter they shrink into dwellings, and in summer they swarm again in the fields, which have irresistible charms for the vagabond race, as well as for their near relatives, the hop-pickers and haymakers. Mixed among them are found some of the victims as well as some of the outcasts of society.” *

In The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker, Roger Hutchinson looks at every census taken at the beginning of each decade for 200 years. All human life is here, from prime ministers to peasants and paupers, from Irish rebels to English patriots, from the last native speakers of Cornish to the first professional footballers, from communities of prostitutes to individuals called ‘abecedarians’, who made a living from teaching the alphabet.

Hutchinson is adept at producing books that talk about the people. He has over twenty publications, many of which you will see in every shop that sells books in Scotland, including Calum’s Road; St. Kilda: A People’s History; The Toon; Silent Weaver; and A Waxing Moon: The Modern Gaelic Revival. Because he is a journalist with the West Highland Free Press and a Raasay resident, he is also a local favorite author.

Following Roger’s presentation, we will have refreshments and then have a short AGM meeting to report on 2016, tell you about our programme for 2017-2018 and find out how you’d like to see the Reading Room develop in the future.

The event will be held at Edinbane Community Hall, starting at 7:30 p.m. The lighter evenings should make parking easier, and rumour has it that Edinbane Inn is open Tuesday nights again, for anyone wanting to make an evening it.

Admission is free to members and £5 for non-members. Everyone is welcome. Our reasonable membership is available at every meeting. Reading Room anthologies, Island Life and A Stillness of Mind, are for sale at £8.50 each, and we have a Good Read selection of literary works at prices that will make them jump into your hands.

For further information about the Reading Room, please email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook, at The Reading Room-Skye.

This event is sponsored in part by Scottish Book Trust.

* Great Britain Historical GIS Project 2004-17. The GBH GIS is a network of collaborating academic researchers. For details please contact Humphrey Southall (Humphrey.Southall@gbhgis.org).

Storybones, Storyskin with Margot Henderson

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Margot’s work requires creativity, resourcefulness and the ability to be with people where and how they are.

The Reading Room presents an evening of poetry and stories by Margot Henderson, who will perform some of her work and share stories of her engaged practice as a Community Artist. She will also hold an afternoon workshop called ‘Words for Well-Being’.

This Scots-Irish poet and storyteller is one of those ‘list people’. You know the type–the ones who make us flush green and cringe and throw half-empty teacups and whisky glasses at walls…the ones who have accomplished such an incredible amount of creative work, it requires much space and headings to organize it all and we are loath to believe a word of it.

With over 30 years of experience in leading Community Arts projects and workshops, Margot was Reader in Residence for Inverness, Storytelling Fellow for Aberdeen and Writer in Residence for the Cromarty Arts Trust. She has led Expressive Writing groups for Maggies Highlands, CLAN and the Highland Hospice  She is a regular workshop leader with LAPIDUS and the WEA in Wellbeing. She also leads Mindfulness workshops and retreats.

The central themes of Margot’s work, which takes place in a huge range of venues, are: encouraging creative self-expression; exploring roots and heritage; deepening connection to self, community and place; and generating a sense of belonging. She has a deep love of nature and a keen sense of our interconnectedness.

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Margot as a Garden Pea in a Pod, ‘Connecting with the Intelligence of Nature’, at a 2008 celebration of Findhorn Community co-founder, Dorothy Maclean.

She has taken part in cross-arts collaborations and has been commissioned by a range of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Findhorn Foundation, Ballet Rambert, the Barbican Centre and the Tate, to create and perform her work.

Everyone is welcome to join us at Edinbane Community Hall, on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for members and our reasonably priced memberships are available at the door. Non-members: £5. Refreshments will be served.

Write Here

Margot’s Afternoon Workshop will be mainly aimed at carers and people who work in the caring profession. She says, ‘Sometimes we are so busy caring for others that we don’t find it easy to take space for ourselves. This workshop is a chance to take some time to relax and reflect, create and express.

‘We will share some playful and practical writing prompts that can support our own happiness and well-being. These tools can also be helpful in working with others.

‘Writing can be a wonderful way of becoming more present helping us get in touch with and express our feelings. We can resource ourselves through writing in groups, sharing concerns and inspirations, responses and reflections as a way of finding greater meaning and well-being in our lives. It can also be a way of developing empathy and creative imagination. Sharing our writing together can be satisfying and fun.’

The workshop will be held on February 28, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at the Caledonian Hotel, downtown Portree (upstairs from street). Admission is free of charge but please register with us, as space is limited. Message us on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye or email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk.