Our Scotland’s Stories Now project is in full swing: we have already received nearly 30 stories to our open callout, while two of our five community-based writing residences have recently begun and are unearthing some fascinating creative results. Read on to find out more about the artists and writers we’re pairing up with community groups in five Local Authorities across Scotland.
Here at Edinburgh International Book Festival, we believe that every community and every individual have a different tale to tell. Stories are a hugely important part of Scotland’s culture, and the 2022 EventScotland ‘Year of Stories’ project celebrates that. Scotland’s Stories Now is our response to this theme and brings together people of all ages and from all backgrounds, inviting them to share their experiences and tell their own stories about Scotland today.
We have brought five talented writers together with community groups in five of Scotland’s Local Authorities: Aberdeenshire, Clackmannanshire, East Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Shetland. The stories we gather will be shared and presented in a series of multi-artform events during the 2022 Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
Aberdeenshire – Mae Diansangu
Mae Diansangu is a Black queer spoken word artist, writer and performer from Aberdeen, whose work often centres on social justice themes. Her work has been published by 404 ink Magazine and she has been awarded commissions from the National Library of Scotland and StAnza. We are delighted to be linking Mae up with a group of refugee women who are based across Aberdeenshire, working with the Refugee Resettlement Team at Aberdeenshire Council to identify women who might be especially interested in writing and sharing their stories, either in English or in their native languages.
Last week, we spent a wonderful International Women’s Day in Inverurie celebrating with over fifty refugee women from Syria, Afghanistan and beyond, and are so excited to include the perspectives of these new Scots women in the project, inviting them to reflect on the discoveries they have made on their journeys towards calling Scotland home.
Clackmannanshire – Bea Webster
Bea Webster is a deaf queer Scottish-Thai actor, writer and theatre-maker who graduated with a BA Performance in British Sign Language and English from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She has published a poem in both BSL and English titled Long Lost Lover, about her birthplace of Thailand. She also wrote and performed in BBC Social's How not to be d*cks to deaf people. We are delighted that Bea has already begun her sessions with the Forth Valley Talk and Sign group, based at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre in Camelon, but with members who come from all across Clackmannanshire and further afield.
Bea’s first session involved discussions about home, childhood, Scotland’s excellent tap water and word association games to get everyone’s ideas flowing. We are really excited to be celebrating writing by Scotland’s D/deaf community at the August festival this year, and our hybrid structure means that participants will be able to share their final pieces in BSL or in written form.
A reminder that our #CreativeWriting workshop with @edbookfest led by Deaf author Bea Webster is continuing this evening from 7pm-9pm! If you’d like to come along please do a lateral flow test before you join us. Thank you! #YS2022 #TalesOfScotland pic.twitter.com/guISRCI123— Forth Valley Sensory (@FVSensoryCentre) March 14, 2022
East Ayrshire – Andrew O’Hagan
Andrew O’Hagan is an active supporter of the Book Festival’s Communities Programme, having taken part in our Citizen Winter Warmer in November, and in author visits to prisons last August. Now, the three times Booker Prize-nominated novelist is going to be exploring the themes from Scotland’s Stories Now with a group of budding writers at HMP Kilmarnock. This relationship builds on Andrew’s previous work as their Writer in Residence, and we can’t wait to see what stories the group will want to share. We’re particularly pleased with this pairing, as Andrew grew up in Ayrshire, and we hope that here, as with all the residencies, the participants feel that they can share a close connection with their facilitator.
Shetland – Roseanne Watt
It was very important for us that Scotland’s Stories Now reaches people from all across the country, and so we were really pleased when Roseanne Watt, writer, filmmaker and musician from Shetland, joined the project. Roseanne’s dual-language debut collection, Moder Dy, was published by Polygon in May 2019, after Roseanne received the prestigious Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for Scottish poets under 30. Roseanne will be working with Maddrim Media – a filmmaking project for secondary aged young people. Drawing on their experience of growing up on Shetland, the group will work with Roseanne to create film poems, which will give a young person’s perspective of life on one of Scotland’s most remote islands.
Edinburgh – Eleanor Thom
Finally, in Edinburgh, we have asked Eleanor Thom, our Citizen Writer in Residence to work with her online writing group to respond to the prompt of ‘On this day’. To practise using the present moment as a prompt, Ellie created an exercise involving webcams, which led many of the participants to explore current affairs in new ways. As Edinburgh is twinned with Kyiv, almost everyone wanted to write about the news of the war in Ukraine. Over the next few weeks, the group will be thinking about how their writing can bear witness, while navigating their own feelings of uncertainty when writing about these events from a place of distance and safety. The ways the participants’ ideas interconnect with what is unfolding at this exact moment is one of the most interesting aspects of the project, and we hope this immediacy will help us to capture the essence of what it’s like to be living in Scotland in 2022.
How you can get involved
Alongside the community-based residencies at the heart of this project, we are also inviting people from all over Scotland to submit their own 500-word stories responding to the prompt ‘On this day’. These can be fiction or non-fiction, in the form of prose, poetry, songs or play-scripts and can be submitted in a range of formats including text, sound files, video files or images. Submissions are open now and will close on Sunday 3 April, and submitted stories will be published online.
The project will culminate at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2022, where visitors will be able to create and share stories, as well as hear the stories that have already been told through the open submissions process. Watch this space!
Scotland’s Stories Now is supported by EventScotland, as part of the Year of Stories 2022.
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