Poets go live with first festival

Poets will converge on Stonehaven today and Saturday for Scotland’s first live poetryfestival post-lockdown.

By Morag Kuc
Friday, 23rd July 2021, 11:55 am
Doric champion Jo Gilbert will be taking part in the weekend event.
Doric champion Jo Gilbert will be taking part in the weekend event.

Some of Scotland’s most popular and celebrated poets will join the 30-plus line-up, including Aberdeen’s Sheena Blackhall and Lesley Benzie, Hugh McMillan, Stirling Makar Laura Fyfe, George Gunn, Harry Smart, and Doric champion Jo Gilbert.

The organisers are promising “verbal fireworks and lyrical shenanigans” at a number of venues including the Trading Corner, Stonehaven Bowling Club and the Tolbooth Museum courtyard.

The free mini-festival, which has been called the ’Wee Gatherin’, has been organised The Poets’ Republic magazine, Stonehaven-based poet Neil Young, and the Trading Corner.

He said: “This festival, or mini-festival, was originally scheduled for summer 2019 to showcase the best in contemporary Scottish poetry away from the usual urban centres, but Covid has twice put the kibosh on our best-laid plans.

“Thankfully, the stars now seem aligned in our favour for what will be Scotland’s first live (Zoom-free) poetry mini-festival following the easing of restrictions.

“The fact we have poets travelling here for the weekend from so many compass points – Caithness, Glasgow and, in the case of the writer Bob Beagrie, even Middlesbrough in northern England - shows how keen people are to read live in front an audience . . . socially distanced, of course. After more than a year in our rabbit hutches, this is an event to lift people’s spirits.”

Mr Young said he hoped the Wee Gatherin could become an annual event that adds to Stonehaven’s reputation - alongside the beer and folk festivals and fireballs - as a focal point for cultural activities.

He said: “All the events are free to attend, although we will be emphasising that everyone must observe the latest Covid guidelines to ensure safety for all.

“The events at the Trading Corner are already booked out, but we would encourage young,old, middling, poetry devotees or sceptics to come along the bowling club on the Saturdayfrom 1-3pm and 7-10pm when there will be a cracking line-up of readers, plus publishers, and to the Tolbooth Museum from 4pm-5.30pm.”

For event details, line-ups and more information see poetsrepublic.online