Alight Here: An Anthology of Falkirk Writing

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The iconic Falkirk landmark which inspired my short story.

In January, I went along to a writing workshop led by Alan Bissett which was organised to stimulate ideas on what it felt to be a bairn (the term for anyone from Falkirk). The group were encouraged to submit their piece to be considered for inclusion in an anthology which Alan was to edit.

There’s no doubt about it, out of the many anthologies I’ve submitted to over the years this one meant the most to me and I was chuffed to bits to learn that my short story, ‘Today’s Special at the York Cafe‘ was to be featured in the book, ‘Alight Here:An Anthology of Falkirk Writing.’

alight-hereThe official blurb states that, “this book celebrates the work of local professional and amateur writers from the Falkirk area. When we think of Scottish literature we think first of the urban grit which came from Edinburgh and Glasgow or the rural poetry of the Highlands and Islands. No-one thinks of Falkirk. 

The collection features established writers from the area such as Aidan Moffat, the lyrical genius behind the band Arab Strap; Gordon Legge, who was key to the ‘Rebel Inc’ movement of the 1990s; Janet Paisley, one of Scotland’s leading Scots language voices; and Brian McCabe, arguably one of Scotland’s most accomplished short-story writers. Alongside them are a host of new and young talents, as well as unseen poetry unearthed from Falkirk Archives. Together, these voices create a compelling picture of Falkirk.”

photoThe launch was a great night with readings from contributors Bethany Ruth Anderson, Paul Cowan and local literary legend, Janet Paisley. It was exciting to see my words in print and I feel honoured to have my writing published alongside the talents of Samuel Best, Peter Callaghan, Karyn Dougan, Lorna Fraser, Matt Hamilton, Brian McNeill, Gary Oberg, Constance Saim-Hunter, Lindsay Scott, Dickson Telfer, Paul Tonner, David Victor and Claire Wilson.

11181883_798627483566550_3105361756786451391_nThe event also included a preview of Alan’s excellent new one man show, ‘What the F**kirk’ which will be touring the Falkirk area over the next couple of weeks. He had the audience in stitches and I’m looking forward to seeing it again on Friday night with my two best friends and fellow bairns.

Last night was a proud moment for me as a bairn! Does your local area have a strong identity represented by the arts?

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Build It and They Will Come

As an avid reader and writer, I love attending literary events for insight and inspiration. Up until very recently this meant that I had to travel west to Glasgow or east to Edinburgh to hear readings by well-known writers.

The reason I no longer have to travel 20+ miles is thanks to [Untitled] and The Grind working hard together to make Falkirk a destination for quality literary gatherings. Following the success of previous events, the latest coup for [Untitled] and The Grind was to feature established names and exciting new writers of Scottish contemporary writing.

The event, called Nomenclature,  which in Latin, means “naming” and is the process of giving specific, descriptive names to things (a new word for me!) was an all-female line-up – ‘No-men-clature’ is quite unusual.

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Fiona gein it laldy!

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Janet sharing one of her anecdotes of family life.

Nomenclature had something for all tastes and was compèred by Jenny Lindsay, of Rally and Broad, who set the tone with her entertaining spoken word performances.

There was also hilarious Scots poetry from Falkirk born award-winning writer Janet Paisley who had the audience in stitches with her dead-pan delivery. Then there was Celtic poetry and music inspired by Scotland’s turbulent history performed by Katharine Macfarlane and Fiona McNeill.

Lucy Ribchester read her evocative short story, The Glass Blower’s Daughter, which was shortlisted for the prestigious Costa Short Story Award and an extract from her excellent debut novel, The Hourglass Factory. Writer Vicki Jarret has recently launched her collection of short stories, The Way Out and the restaurant setting of the story she read was a great taster (couldn’t resist the pun!).

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MacGillivray’s words and music were full of emotion.

The unique voice of MacGillivray was showcased with her haunting music and ethereal words in a performance the like of which I’m sure the venue (a former haunt of mine when it was Rosie’s nightclub and more used to the hits of Madonna than MacGillivray) has ever experienced!

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Janice’s use of comic timing and facial expression is priceless.

For me, and I’m sure I’m not alone, Janice Galloway, the headline act, fulfilled her top billing status. Janice has a powerful presence which permeates a room with her dramatic style and distinctive voice.

Reading a passage from her memoir, This is Not About Me, which describes her sister getting ready for a big night out in Ayr, she used her talent to brilliant effect and wowed the crowd. Janice is one of my all-time favourite writers and to have the chance to hear her read and meet her (she was very sociable considering I came across as a star struck groupie!) was the highlight of the night.

All credit to [Untitled] and The Grind as Nomenclature was proof that you don’t need to be a big city to attract big names.  Do you have access to hearing inspiring writers locally?

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L to R – Vicki Jarret, Janice Galloway, MacGillivrary, Fiona McNeil, Katharine Mcfarlane, Janet Paisley

(Thanks to Eddie McEleney for permission to use his excellent photographs from the event).