At its heart, Edinburgh International Book Festival is about the importance and value of sharing stories: connecting with each other and with the world around us, through personal stories, fiction, poetry and new ideas. We believe everyone has a story to tell, and our Scotland’s Stories Now project celebrated that each and every day of the Festival this August.
It all began back in January, when we asked five talented writers to deliver story-making workshops in five Scottish local authorities: Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, Edinburgh and Shetland. The stories that emerged from these sessions became the basis for our Scotland’s Stories Now showcase event. The eye-opening creative work they shared included a film-poem from Maddrim Media, a film collective who worked with Roseanne Watt in Shetland; stories by three inmates from HMP Kilmarnock, who have been working with Andrew O’Hagan; a piece of reflective writing from a refugee women’s group based in Aberdeen which was shared in both Arabic and English; BSL stories from a D/deaf group at Forth Valley Sensory Centre, and hilarious tales from the kids at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, shared by Siân Bevan, who worked bedside with the patients over a number of weeks.
Towards the end of the showcase, Andrew O’Hagan reflected on how encouraging it was to hear the voices of unheard writers from across Scotland, and said “to my mind, it’s one of the most important events to happen at the Book Festival this year.” Echoing his sentiments, event host Val McDermid reflected, “This has been an extraordinary experience… the stories have touched us, moved us and surprised us.” If you would like to catch up on this special event, head to the event page and click ‘Watch Online’.
The project also welcomed some of Scotland’s most esteemed writers to the stage as part of a dedicated series, with Douglas Stuart, Ali Smith, Louise Welsh, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and Liz Lochhead. You can explore the strand and catch up on many of these events here.
Another vital element of our Scotland’s Stories Now project was our Open Call, when we invited everyone with a keen interest in writing and a connection to Scotland to submit 500-word stories inspired by the prompt ‘On This Day’. We received almost 100 submissions, with songs, stories and poems that captured memories, both recent and distant, of Scotland. Throughout the August Festival, over 60 of these writers were invited to share their contributions at our daily slot in the Storytime Yurt.
The yurt provided the perfect intimate space for moving and insightful tales, and every reading provided a snapshot of contemporary life across Scotland. At the end of the sessions, the audiences themselves were invited to add their own new stories to the rich tapestry we have already collected. You can explore these, alongside submissions to the original Open Call, here.
It is important for us that our Communities Programme participants have the same experience as professional writers sharing their work at the Book Festival, so we were delighted to hear Helen’s thoughts afterwards: “thank you for organising such a great event yesterday. It was very professionally done and I think we all felt like we had been made to be special for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the fabulous offerings from the other three writers.”
We were delighted to welcome so many new talented writers to the stage and hope to continue to invite people to contribute to new open calls throughout the year.
We are very grateful to EventScotland, who supported this Scotland’s Stories Now as part of the Year of Stories 2022.
Share this Post