Wordplay 2011, the tenth Book Festival is run by Shetland Arts Development Agency. The festival will be held in Islesburgh Community Centre, in Lerwick and will feature a stunning cast of writers, comedians, journalists, broadcasters, visual artists, no less than three makers (poet laureates) and at least one CBE. It will run from 6.30pm on Friday 2nd September until 7.30pm on Sunday 4th September.
Kicking off the two-and-a-bit day book bonanza, on Friday 2nd September, will be Mark Kermode. The leading film critic, writer and broadcaster will talk about his new book, “The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex”, answer questions and sign books. Mark is also co-curator of Screenplay 2011, Shetland’s 5th Annual Film Festival.
Friday evening will also see the Launch of Ecstatics: A Language of Birds, a collaboration between artist Laura Drever and poet Lesley Harrison. The book is published by Brae editions and the the publisher acknowledges financial support from Creative Scotland. The festival will also feature an exhibition of Laura’s original artwork for the book. Publisher, Alistair Peebles will also present an illustrated talk, entitled, “Up The Brae! Adventures in Small Press Publishing.” The evening’s fare will be rounded off by “Horseplay”, the book and film based Improv Show starring, Allen Chalmers, Sandy Nelson and Raymond Mearns, three of Scotland’s most talented comedians.
The spirit of Wordplay has always been one of participation, and there is plenty for folks of all ages to get stuck into. Saturday morning will see two writing workshops: one run by poet David Wheatley, for poets, entitled “Poetry & Place”. The other run by Roger Hutchinson, author of “Calum’s Road”: “Local People, Local Places” will encourage writers to use local and family history as a starting place for their writing. Another book related workshop will be run by Carol Dunbar, Education Officer at the Pier art Centre in Stromness. This all day workshop will introduce simple book binding techniques, including traditional Japanese stab bindings. Carol will also run a shorter workshop for young people on Sunday 4th at 3.15pm in which 10-15 year olds will find out how to make a hard-back bound concertina book – no glue, no stitching.
Further workshops include Blast Off! Led by celebrated author and illustrator, Sally Kindberg, who has drawn pictures for three Bloomsbury comic strip books and is currently working on a fourth one about dinosaurs. The interactive comic strip workshops are suitable for 5-11 year olds and will run on both Saturday and Sunday.
Also for young people (7-12), will be “If I Can Write, You Can Write’, which will feature, perennial children’s favourite, Viv French who will be running an interactive session, in which she will talk about her series, “Tales From the Five Kingdoms”. Viv will also run a workshop for adults about writing fiction for children.
One of the three makars, is Magi Gibson, the first Stirling Makar for 3oo years, who also writes under the name Maggi Gibson for young people. Maggi will run an event for 8-13 year olds, featuring the fun and feisty “Seriously Sassy” books, published by Puffin. She will also appear with her partner, the comic novelist Ian Macpherson, in BeMUSed, an entertaining session of poetry and stories, which will round off the entertainment on Saturday.
The festival line up is rich with poets, many who are also celebrated as writers in other forms. Making his first appearance at the festival is Simon Armitage CBE, the poet, novelist and broadcaster whose event will take place on Saturday afternoon. The multi award-winning writer will read from his work and answer questions from the audience.
Another celebrated writer, poet and dramatist, Liz Lochhead, Scotand’s Makar is making a very welcome return to the UK’s most northerly book festival. As well as reading from her work, Liz will be in conversation with broadcaster James Naughtie, making his first appearance at Wordplay.
James Naughtie, has one of the best known voices on Radio, presenting Today and Bookclub for BBC Radio 4. James’s session, on Sunday afternoon, is entitled, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Studio”.
Andrew Greig will need little introduction, as a poet and novelist of renown. He will appear alongside his friend Ron Butlin, the Edinburgh Makar, a novelist of international renown and a celebrated librettist. Mr Greig will also appear in “At The Loch of the Green Corrie”, talking about the life and work of another of his friends, the late, great Norman MacCaig. Poetry will also feature on Sunday afternoon with a joint reading by David Wheatley, one of Ireland’s finest contemporary poets, who will be joined by Scotland’s very own John Glenday.
The festival also features novelist and broadcaster, Jonathan Meades. As well as an appearance by the man himself, in which he will read from the book he is currently working on and speak more generally about places and their relationship to fiction there will be screenings of two of his films, “The Isle of Rust” and “Surrealism”.
The relationship between Islands and both fiction and non-fiction is the subject of another session featuring journalist and author of best selling “Calum’s Road” Roger Hutchinson and the celebrated novelist, poet (and organic gardener) Margaret Elphinstone.
Shetland has a vibrant writing community, which is reflected in several of the events, including the Shetland launch of “These Islands We Sing” (Polygon 2011) edited Kevin MacNeil and featuring no less than twenty one poets, either native to Shetland, and/or currently living here. The event will feature Kevin himself, Alex Cluness, Lise Sinclair, and Roseanne Watt.
Lise Sinclair a poet and song writer from Fair Isle will also playing a few songs from her current work in progress, “A Time To Keep”, a cycle of songs inspired by George Mackay Brown’s book of the same title which she is writing with Icelandic composer Astvaldur Traustasson. Lise’s project has received support from both Creative Scotland and Scotland’s Islands.
Launching her first novel, “And Then Forever” (Shetland Times 2011) is another native of Shetland, Christine De Luca, who has also has five collections of poetry published. Christine is also an active member of Shore Poets, Edinburgh and a member of Hansel Co-operative Press.
Hansel Cooperative Press is a not-for-profit cooperative for writers and artists, which promotes literary and artistic works relating to Orkney and Shetland. The festival will host the launch of their new publication, a translation by William (Billy) Tait’s of Francois Villon’s “Grand Testament” which will feature readings by local broadcaster, Mary Blance and poet Jim Mainland as well as contributions by another local poet and scholar, Mark Ryan Smith and the Archivist, Brian Smith.
Another feature of Wordplay over the last few years, has been the Prize Giving for the Shetland Young Writers Award. The competition, now run by Shetland Library has been going for twenty years.
Wordplay also has a long history of supporting Shetland Dialect and Shetland writing and this year sees the showing of an exciting new multi media production, “Kirsty and Da Snarravoe Njuggle”. The show will feature a mixture of live acting, original film sequences and shadow puppetry. This project is funded by Scotland’s Islands and run by Shetland Islands Council’s Creative Links and Drama Co-ordinator.