It’s been a good few weeks with launch events for my new poetry collection. In November, I was asked to read at the Allingham Festival in Ballyshannon, County Donegal with noted Irish poets Annemarie NÃ ChurreÃ¡in and Denise Blake and English poet Chris Sparks.
The next event was at the Scottish Writers’ Centre in Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts with Donal McLaughlin and Finola Scott. Donal is an award-winning Derry-born short story writer and translator; Finola, launching her first pamphlet with Red Squirrel Press, is a widely-regarded poet who share an Irish heritage.
Following this, I read with the wonderful writer, publisher and singer Linda Jackson in my publisher, Sally Evans’s bookshop in Callander. Never was poetry read on a more dreadful night, with the wind and the rain nearly battering the door down to get in. Linda was reading from her beautifully written memoir The Siren Awakes.
And so now, in 2020, I’m heading to HighlandLIT in January and plan other launch events, again with Finola Scott, in Baillieston Library, Stirling Central Library and Edinburgh over the next few weeks.
It’s a tough thing to get a poetry book out and about, but a pleasure to share the words with fellow writers and the people who come to hear you and buy your books. I’m looking forward to it.
Everything I went to was interesting: some things enlightened me, others blew me away. Henry Bell’s autobiography of John McLean is set to lift this hero of Scotland further into folks’ hearts and minds. Karin Fernald‘s depiction of the life of Florence Nightingale was immense. Bernard MacLaverty graced Saturday with a wonderful talk and readings from Midwinter Break. Rosemary Goring spoke with such ease, Alan Taylor was funny and smooth. And (of course) Chrys Salt wove her magic words and positive presence in among the whole thing.
And all the time at Big Lit, volunteers rush to make the readers and other contributors welcome and to guide the listeners and foot-tappers easily from one event to the next. The hospitality of Chrys Salt and her husband Richard McFarlane is open-hearted; the support of key Big Lit people like Hilary Hawker and Ken Smyth is genuine and consistent. Soup, salmon, vegan, gluten-free everythings for the performers – all we needed – all thought-through with ease.
A few highlights then. Of course, the chance to share bits of my novel and some poems with a very good-sized crowd at the Crafty Crow. And not only that: to do so with my new friend David Mark Williams (Odd Sock Exchange & Papaya Fantasia), an excellent poet and short fiction writer and a top man. We will now, he and I, travel the country as The Skinny Guys (maybe The Skinny Bartirts for Glesga; maybe The Slender Fellaes for Dumfries).
Another highlight. Sasha Mitchell and Pete Moser made Friday night explode with songs and poems of Sasha’s father, Adrian Mitchell – joy and punchiness and then more joy.
Another. Reading with fellow Dove Tales writers and Angela Shapiro, sharing moving poems and accounts of the Nazi holocaust. Added to by the presence of Heather Valencia who brought insights and poetry from her bi-lingual translation of Avrom Sutzkever’s work.
And more. Discovering poets Annie Wright and Nicola Jackson and listening to Alan McLure‘s lyrics and voice. Shooting the breeze with John Cavanagh and Brian Johnstone after their poetry and music gig. Bill and Caro Barlow’s wonderful puppetry. Chik J Duncan always. Being part of the launch of Southlight 25.
One thing more. Peter Marinker read ‘Birth Was The Death Of Him’: words spoken and stage directions spoken. This was done with all the poise Beckett intended. He held us all for half an hour, pauses announced, words delivered beautifully, until the final stage direction: 30 seconds silence. What a 30 seconds that was. In the middle of creative activity and energy, a Beckettian silence.
Baillieston Library welcomed Charlie Gracie with the excellent poet Finola Scott on 7th March for a launch event for Charlie’s novel, To Live With What You Are.
A crowd of thirty people – writers, library users, members of the local book group, friends and family – helped to make it a very interesting night. After readings from Finola and Charlie, the question and answer session became a broader discussion on the literary process.
Baillieston Library staff, especially Susi Hunter, pulled out all the stops to support Charlie and Finola and all those who attended, to have an enjoyable night.
Isabel Addie took excellent photographs on the night and captured the atmosphere.
Loki, Rana Marathon & Victoria McNulty – what a line up at Saint Luke’s on the 23rd! The Scottish poetic voice is alive and well.
I’d never heard Rana Marathon before. She’s a kick-boxer of a poet, a wordsmith with a sharp smile. She’s rhythmic and funny and straight to the point. Everything she spoke and rapped was worth listening too, and was delivered in a way that tells you she works hard to get the words right.
Victoria McNulty is an important voice in Scottish culture. She makes the links that need making: history, social policy, real lives. Lesley Traynor says Victoria McNulty is fearless – she was certainly fearless in Saint Luke’s and everybody loved it. Her work references politics and poetry and the lives of people in a catchy, energetic way.
Loki hits the stage like a train. There’s really very little to say. Genuine, he is. I always feel challenged and inspired by what he says, even if I’m not sure I agree completely. This is artistic integrity. At one point Darren McGarvey, author of the powerful Poverty Safari, turned away from the audience and revealed the depth of both his pain and his poetry – beautiful that a man has the courage to be so honest.
And when someone uses cunt and metatextual in the same sentence you know you’re in the presence of greatness.
Getting close folks! I hope to see you at one of the events to launch ‘To Live With What You Are’, the new novel by Charlie Gracie: Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh dates below. We are waiting for confirmation of the Newcastle Upon Tyne date early in the new year, and I’ll be doing other readings over the next few weeks and months.
15 December, Edinburgh. Scottish Poetry Library. 1pm. But Shelley Day will be there alongside Thomas Stewart who will read from his debut poetry pamphlet â€˜Empire of Dirtâ€™, published by Red Squirrel.
Come along to Sunrise Holistic on Saturday 1st September for an excellent opportunity to tune in to your creativity. Writer Charlie Gracie and holistic therapist Teresa Johnston give you the opportunity to combine meditation and creative writing in the company of like-minded other people. The workshop, Our Inner Emotions and The Written Word, will run from 10.30 am till 4 pm.
Teresa’s background in radiation oncology in Seattle, Manhattan, Glasgow and Edinburgh led to her passion for delivering care as an Energy Medicine Practitioner. Teresa says, ‘As a holistic health carer, I consider health with regards to illness and disease as impacted by factors of environment, nutrition, and exercise. Furthermore, my holistic approach also takes into consideration a personâ€™s stress levels, and helping each person to find balance in life.’
Charlie is a writer of poetry and fiction. His first poetry collection, Good Morning, will be followed up later this year by his debut novel, To Live With What You Are, and early next year with his second poetry collection, Tales from the Dartry Mountains. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies and journals and he is a member of the Board for the Scottish Writers’ Centre.
Teresa and Charlie are experienced in running workshops and supporting people to dig deep into their creative selves.
When, where and how much?
We’re looking forward to seeing you on Saturday 1st September at Sunrise Holistic in Bo’ness. To book a place, call Teresa onÂ (44) 0784 140 8120 or e-mail her at SunriseHolistic@gmail.com
The full-day course, with lunch included, costs Â£55.00. (Let us know of any dietary requirements you have.) Meditation and creative writing are guided and supported by Teresa and Charlie. This is a great chance to energise and express yourself.
Charlie Gracie is developing an exciting partnership with Teresa Johnston from Sunrise Holistic. Teresa has established a centre for spiritual and emotional balance in Bo’ness over the last few years – now she’s brought a poet in to tip it all up with creative writing workshops!
We had our first venture in April this year and it was a fantastic evening with an excellent group of people. The group brought such a lot of energy and I’m convinced that the space Teresa has created in her centre really adds to the creative energy. We have other creative writing workshops planned for Wednesday 25th August (evening) and Saturday 1st September (all-day with writing and meditation).
Creative writing is important. It’s important for us all that people dig into themselves and lay it out for others to read and feel and think about. It’s also important for us all as individuals to tap into what’s inside us; I know I couldn’t survive without writing.
So, if you’re new to creative writing, need to get your spark back or are looking to link in with other like-minded people, this could be for you. We create a friendly, supportive atmosphere with plenty of encouragement and no pressure. Our aim is to help you learn how you can bring your words to life. We want you to leave feeling refreshed and energised, with your inner emotions more connected to your expressiveness and creativity. Sunrise Holistic is all about improving your health and helping you to re-balance your life – your creative spark is an important part of who you really are.
Get in touch with Teresa at Sunrise Holistic to book your place at either of the creative writing workshops.
It’s easy to book your place: contact Teresa at Sunrise Holistic on FacebookÂ by phone on 07841408120 or by email at SunriseHolistic@gmail.com
This free Speakeasy event gives members a chance to share their writing with a wider audience and has become much-loved over the last few years.
The Scottish Writers’ Centre is ten years old later this year, so look out on our website for information about submitting for the celebratory anthology being brought out in partnership with the wonderful Red Squirrel Press.
Would you like to take part in an emotionally and creatively energising workshop in beautiful surroundings? I’m delighted to be working with holistic therapist Teresa Johnston to offer this opportunity.
We are excited to offer a day retreat focused on the many benefits of mindfulness in relation to inspiration and creativity. The cost is Â£55.00 and includes a morning walking meditation, then creative writing, followed by lunch (with vegetarian and gluten-free options). In the afternoon, we will introduce further writing techniques complimented with seated meditation.
The workshop takes place on Saturday 24th March 2018 in rural Stirlingshire.
Teresa, originally from Seattle, teaches mindfulness meditation at Sunrise Holistic, her healing practice in Falkirk.
Based on the beautiful West Moss-side Farm by Thornhill, youâ€™ll be surrounded by gorgeous scenery and enjoy the comfort of like-minded people to fuel your both your writing and meditating practices. West Moss-side is run by organic farmer and basket maker Kate Sankey. Kate’s place is a hub for all sorts of natural creativity, based on the edge of Flanders Moss in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
Space is limited to 15 participants and booking is essential. To reserve your place, call Teresa on 07841408120 or email SunriseHolistic@Gmail.com
We are looking forward to sharing a wonderfully creative and peaceful day.
I was really honoured to be one of the judges for the first Get Write In! competition for children with care experience.
The judging panel was chaired by Raymond Soltysek. Our Makar, Jackie Kay, also a judge, presented the prizes and gave a humorous, warm and encouraging speech in praise of the winners.The winners were presented with their prizes by Jackie and Mark McDonald, Scotlandâ€™s Minister for Childcare and Early Years, at a special event at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. The fantastic prizes included a trip to the Harry Potter Experience in London with overnight stay and travel, a storytelling and creative writing workshop, and tickets for Scottish Book Trust Authors Live events.
The junior winner was Joseph Ness for his entry â€˜Dumbâ€™, and winner in the senior category was William Cathie with â€˜New Lifeâ€™. All the young writers submitted moving work, some of which was funny and much of which reflected their lives in care: strong and articulate young people.
Get Write In! was supported by The Scottish Book Trust, Who Cares? Scotland, the University of Strathclyde, and the world famous Edinburgh International Book Festival. The other judges were Fiona Buggy fromÂ Who Cares? Scotland, Niall Walker from The Scottish Book Trust and Dr. Graham Connolly from CELCIS.
Participants from throughout Scotland were encouraged to submit a 500 word creative story in either English or Scots, capturing the theme of â€˜Random Momentsâ€™ about an unexpected surprise, a moment that was a turning point, or a fork in the road, which could be transformed into an inspiring story. CELCIS (read their piece on the competition here) led the development of the competition and, as usual, were able to bring lots of energy from writers and people who support looked after children.