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.
A book launch is a great night out for any writer and I’ve been at a few recently. Two of my writers’ group, Gail Honeyman, Kev Scott, and former member Maggie Ritchie had their events at Waterstone’s in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street. Brilliant nights they were too.
Last night, it was Stirling Central Library for the launchÂ Moira McPartln’s Wants Of The Silent, second in her Sun Song trilogy. It was a magic night, with lovely readings, a big crowd and… cake!
Jackie Kay, Scotland’s Makar, will lead the judging panel for Get Write In, a new and excitingÂ writing competitionÂ for all school-aged children in Scotland who are looked after or have experienced care.
CELCIS (the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland)Â has teamed up with The Scottish Book Trust, Who Cares? Scotland, the School of Education at the University of Strathclyde, and the world famous Edinburgh International Book Festival to run this distinct and exciting competition.
I’m delighted to be part of the judging panel with other excellent writers and people committed to making the lives of young people as good as they can be.
If you are a young person, or want to pass the details onto a young person you know, then just go to the CELCIS Get WriteIn page. Good luck!
I will be tutoring at the newly reformed Stirling Writers’ Group for the next couple of weeks, starting on Tuesday, 18 October. The group, still organised by Robert Ritchie, will be meeting in its new home: the Burgh Coffee House in the city centre from 7pm.
It is through Stirling Writers’ Group that I developed confidence in my writing. This was mainly under the tutorship of Magi Gibson and, latterly, Chris Powici. Many people of note have passed through the group. I hope that this new start is a sign that the energy that made it the best group in the country (in many people’s view) is now reinfected.
The evening will compered by the incomparable Donal McLaughlin, award winning short storyÂ writerÂ and translator.
Musician WillMcArthur will be there, andÂ theÂ whole evening will be free to all. If you come East to WEST you’ll have a blast.
I am delighted to be taking part in such an excellent event with such a range of talented musical and writerly artists. The writer,Â Ruby McCann, Chair of the Scottish Writers’ Centre has put a huge effort into getting this excellent evening going.
Another excellent weekend coming up of poetry, music and Â fun at Callander Poetry Weekend. This annual extravaganza is truly one of the highlights of the year. The weekend will run from Friday 2 till Sunday 4Â September.
Sally Evans and Ian King areÂ fantastic supporters of poets and poetry, and the weekends are always filled with strong words and plenty of laughs (plus excellent cakes). This year’s programme promises the usual high standard with poets coming from all over Scotland and beyond. Check out the Facebook page.Â Alternatively, go to Sally Evans’ website for more information.
Charlie Gracie at Callander poetry weekend
I have a wee spot on Sunday afternoon, reading in the final session withÂ Ray Evans, Ian King, Irene CunninghameÂ andÂ Magi McGlyn.
I hope you get along. You’ll love it! You willÂ hear well-established and wonderful poets. Plus, you will hear up and coming and wonderful poets. And, you will have your hearts and minds stretched in fabulous directions.
For ages, I’ve wanted to go to a an event run by Ian Maxtone of The Write Angle. Last week, I did, and it was brilliant. Heroes,Â in Cafe Roxy in Falkirk, was the latest of their spoken word and music nights. It was a pleasure to read alongside other wonderful writers.
The Write Angle has the ablity to connect writers across Forth Valley. Due to this, there was a huge range of people there. Many of the folks who read are used to sharing their work out loud, while others were speaking for the first time. There was music, and there were laughs, and there was a warm fuzzy feeling in the room. Ian’s compering, in additon to his behind the scenes organising, was funny, encouraging, uplifting and downright groovy.There was even a raffle. How many places can you hear wonderful writing, and excellent music and win some Mr Sheen?
The Write Angle gave the readers a wonderful attentive and appreciative audience. Most importantly, everyone had a good time with great music and brililant writing. Thanks Ian.
Uisga Beatha by Fran Baillie is a sumptuous honouring of Laphroaig, the sharp and joyous malt from Islay. She totally gets it: I think she might enjoy a wee dram herself, you know. ‘Pass owre a tummlerfuhl o the cauld, wild west, / mahltit barley, slow-distilt, pure poetrie;’. Pure poetry right enough.
In some kind of contrast (and I say this as a boy whose youthful drug of choice was the sweet cherry wine of the Monks), Buckfast is given its place in the Scotia Extremis project by Claudia Daventry with her funny and punchy Commotion Lotion. From disco to fist fights, Caludia rocks this one. This is not a relationship going well; her, the burd and the Buckie. ‘Ma skankâ€™s a steamin jakey, / she doons a few then skelps me’. Luvvy jubbly.
Scotia Extremis has been on the go for severalÂ months now. Andy Jackson and Brian Johnstone have galvanised a load of writers around our nation’s essential nature, its soul. The starting point was McDiarmid’s assertion that â€œIâ€™ll haâ€™e nae hauf-way hoose, but aye be whaur / Extremes meet â€¦â€Â Great stuff already and more to come, bevvied or not.