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Shetland Arts this week has revealed some of the details of the first weekend of its annual Book Festival, Wordplay 2013, running this year from 31 August to 8 September, as well a glimpse at some of the workshops that will be available to attend throughout the Festival.

Shetland Arts’ Literature Development Officer, Donald Anderson, said: “This year’s curators have done a great job in pulling together an exceptional programme of events and we have some very interesting guests for this year’s festival with a rich mix of writers from a variety of genres from Shetland and from farther afield. We’ll be releasing more details about the line-up for the second weekend of the Festival at the start of next week, followed by a full programme of events later in the week, but we’re really pleased to give out some details now to whet the appetite!”

One of the events Festival goers can look forward to for the first weekend is a reading by poet Tom Pow in ‘Elsewheres – The Poetry of the Map with Tom Pow.’ Tom Pow has always written about “elsewheres” in his poetry and in his travel books, most recently In Another World, Among Europe's Dying Villages. Recently taking part in the NLS Bartholomew's Residency has allowed him to explore his love of maps as artefacts and as invitations to the imagination. In his reading, he will share poems about the map of Treasure Island, for example, and about the 1983 Soviet Map of Edinburgh, as well as earlier encounters with place.

Tom Pow

Tom Pow

Audiences are also invited to join Sheenagh Pugh and David Harsent for a poetry reading. Sheenagh has lived permanently in Shetland since 2009 and was a regular visitor for many years before that. She used to live in Cardiff and taught creative writing at the University of Glamorgan. Her latest collection of poems is Long-Haul Travellers (Seren 2008) and a new collection, Short Days, Long Shadows, will come out from Seren in 2014. David has published ten collections of poetry. The most recent, Night, published in January 2011, was Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2011 and won the Griffin International Poetry Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Forward Prize (Best Collection), the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Costa Poetry Prize. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

A highlight of the Festival will be an appearance by renowned performance poet Lemn Sissay. Dr Lemn Sissay MBE is Associate Artist with the Southbank Centre and was the Olympic Poet in 2012. He is the author of several critically acclaimed poetry collections, including Rebel Without Applause, Morning Breaks in the Elevator and most recently, The Listener. He is known world-wide for his performances and his first appearance at Wordplay is not to be missed!

Another unmissable event is The Entire History of Rock and Roll in 60 Minutes with Mark Ellen and David Hepworth. Mark and David have been broadcasting about, writing about, and listening to music for most of the last forty years. In that time they have been presenters in the BBC's Whistle Test, anchors of the TV presentation of Live Aid, editors of magazines such as Smash Hits, Mojo and Q and interviewers of everyone from Bob Dylan through Bananarama to Rihanna. In The Entire History of Rock and Roll they set out to tell the entire story of music via pictures, headlines, funny stories, juicy details you didn't know already and the odd serious bit. The event will be followed by a Q& A during which they'll probably make indiscreet comments about internationally famous rock stars...

Another renowned poet, Andrew Greig, will give a spoken word performance during 'Found at Sea'. Andrew has published 21 books, including ten volumes of poetry. He is widely enjoyed as one of the most versatile Scottish writers of his generation. A full time writer, he lives in Edinburgh and Orkney with his wife, novelist Lesley Glaister. His performance will focus on his latest book Found At Sea. Based on an open dinghy trip he made from Stromness to overnight on the abandoned island of Cava, this micro-Odyssey is about sailing, friendship, fear, living through physical engagement - and the story of two remarkable women who lived alone on Cava for twenty seven years. There may also be some banjo playing and a shanty!

And a local highlight of the first weekend of events is a poetry reading from Laureen Johnston and James Sinclair. Laureen Johnston from Voe has published local history book Inside the Postcard (2001); short novel Shetland Black (2002); poetry pamphlet Treeds (2007, reprinted 2010), and in March appeared at StAnza, Scotland's international poetry festival. James Sinclair, from Lerwick published a pamphlet of poems, Gulf Stream Blues, in 2007. He is on the editorial committee of the New Shetlander and has regularly given readings around Shetland and at Word festival in Aberdeen.

Wordplay 2013 will also feature a variety of workshops, covering poetry, song and fiction as well as visual art. Donald Anderson said: “One of the key ideas of Wordplay has always been participation. This year is no different and we have more workshops than ever before, with a formidable array of excellent workshop leaders.”

Some of the highlights will include a poetry workshop by multi-award winning poet and creative writing tutor Jen Hadfield, and a workshop exploring the relation between poetry and place by John Cumming and James Sinclair.

We are also very pleased to welcome David Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame, to present two workshops: one in Songwriting and one in Surviving as an Artist in the Business World. It is expected that these will be very popular.

David K 8bw

David Knopfler

Those who want to develop their fiction writing are welcomed to join Marsali Taylor for a creative writing workshop focusing on the difficulties of portraying your own community and exploring using dialect in works aimed at mainstream audiences.

And finally, we are delighted to present 'Art Walk to Art Map' with Diane Garrick. Artist Diane Garrick will lead this all day workshop which will include a short power-point to introduce the current contemporary practices of ‘maps in art,’ followed by a morning walk around Lerwick. This will focus on a multi-sensory engagement with the environment allowing participants to gather ideas, images or materials from the landscape to inspire the afternoon session - creating art work that integrates two or more senses in a two or three dimensional form.

To find out about the programme highlights for Wordplay’s partner festival, Screenplay – the annual Shetland film festival – please click here.

The full programmes for both Screenplay and Wordplay will be made available next week and tickets will then be made available for purchase via Shetland Box Office in Mareel & Islesburgh, over the phone on 01595 745 555, and online at and

Wordplay is sponsored by Arts & Business Scotland. The New Arts Sponsorship Grants scheme incentivises businesses to sponsor the arts in Scotland. It is funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Arts & Business Scotland. An arts organisation receiving an eligible business sponsorship can apply for £1 of funding for every £1 of sponsorship. The funding goes towards additional arts activity, for which the sponsor receives additional business benefits.

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