Saturday, July 16, 2011

Poetry and music at CatStrand this Wednesday - The Wood and the Water

Make the most of a summer evening of poetry and music as artists find creative ways to respond to aspects of rivers, seas and forests.

Come along to The CatStrand to hear hugely talented D&G based poets Vivien Jones and Jackie Galley alongside musicians Michael Hendry, Richard Jones and Rebecca Hendry. Music is woven around the spoken word to create a really special performance. Not to be missed.

Wednesday 20 July, at 7.30pm, tickets £8/£6 from CatStrand 01644 420374, or on the door.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Shard Box selected by Scottish Libraries Summer Reads

More good news to chalk up on Dumfries and Galloway's literary record! Liz Niven's latest poetry collection, 'The Shard Box', has been selected as one of the books in the 2011 Scottish Libraries Summer Reads promotion, so the book should be available from all Scottish libraries. The promotion will be launched on Reading Agency's National Readers' Day on 25th June, and will finish in September, so take this opportunity to discover a most rewarding book.

Our warmest congratulations Liz!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heads up for 15 June - save the day for laughter

'A Penny Spitfire' will be presented at Gracefield Arts Centre Cafe on Wednesday 15 June at 7pm by well known and much awarded writer Brindley Hallam Dennis, aka Mike Smith. I think we can safely say this will be a most entertaining author event: Brindley Hallam Dennis has a well-deserved reputation as a raconteur, whose dry wit and laconic delivery already has a following in D&G.

'A Penny Spitfire' is set in October 1947, in a town inspired by his childhood memories of Burton Upon Trent. To a background of industrial steam engines, hauling their trains between the dark brick walls of brewery buildings, the characters struggle with the changes that war and history have forced upon them and their town.

Brindley Hallam Dennis writes poetry, prose and drama. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and his comic monologues, That’s What Ya Get! Kowalski’s Assertions, were published recently by Unbound Press. Mike teaches Creative Writing at Cumbria University, runs fiction writing workshops, and blogs regularly at

Monday, May 23, 2011

JoAnne McKay runner up in Callum Macdonald

Our heartiest congrats to Penpont poet JoAnne McKay, who was announced runner up in the Callum Macdonald Memorial Awards for pamphlet poetry last Thursday, at a rather glam ceremony in the NLS in Edinburgh. JoAnne's beautiful pamphlet 'Venti' was pipped at the post only by the winner Anna Crowe, with 'Figure in a Landscape' from Mariscat Press. Well done JoAnne, and all our warmest!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Visual Poetry Workshop at the Crichton

Sign up for a free Visual Poetry Workshop with Lisa Otty on Friday 3 June, 2pm to 4pm at the Rutherford McCowan Building, Crichton Campus, Dumfries.

Poetry Beyond Text is a hands-on workshop explores Visual Poetry, an experimental genre that uses not just words, but also properties such as space, colour, line, and typography. Championed by two of Scotland’s most celebrated poets, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Edwin Morgan, Visual Poetry challenges us to ask what poetry is and how different styles of textual presentation change our readings.

Exploring the aims and ambitions of poets and investigate how individual works are constructed and read, you will experiment with creating your own visual poems. The workshop draws on the new Archive of Reading, housed at the Scottish Poetry Library. This holds eye-tracking recordings and other documents showing how people engage with different layouts and visual strategies, so we can judge how these affect interpretation.

Lisa Otty is a research fellow at Dundee University working on the Poetry beyond Text: Vision, Text and Cognition project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Her interests focus on experimental literature, print history and modern art, and she regularly publishes and teaches in these areas. She is based in Edinburgh, and is working on the Archive of Reading at the Scottish Poetry Library.

If you're interested, please email Carolyn Yates, Literature Development Officer at dgArts on

This is Like Attracts Like, by Emmett Williams. Just to get you going.

Jules Horne's new radio play - this Thursday 2.15pm

The life and crimes of Dumfriesshire bicycle inventor Kirkpatrick Macmillan will be revealed in a new BBC radio play by former dgArts writer in residence Jules Horne on Thursday 19th May.

Many of us in D&G remember Jules with affection and gratitude (she certainly helped my writing along) - so will be listening out on Thursday when her new radio play is broadcast, 2.15 on Radio 4, with all the usual helpful options for catching it later...

MACMILLAN’S MARVELLOUS MOTION MACHINE is based on the story of Kirkpatrick ‘Daft Pate’ Macmillan, the Dumfriesshire blacksmith who invented the pedal bicycle, rode from Penpont to Glasgow and committed the world’s first cycle crime in 1842. It includes a cast of thousands played by six Scottish actors, including John Kazek (Spooks, Batman Begins), Isabella Jarrett (Faust, Barry) and Gabriel Quigley (Festival, Rab C Nesbitt), and is directed by Rosie Kellagher of Newcastle’s Theatre Live.

Macmillan worked in the smiddy at Drumlanrig Castle, and Jules was inspired by seeing a velocipede at the Vintage Cycle Museum there. To find out what it was like to build and ride the first bicycle, she worked closely with the museum’s velocipede expert Tony Dymott, and carried out research at Dumfries Museum and the Ewart Library. She also visited Cousland Smiddy and spoke to resident blacksmith James Fleming to find out about the life of a Scottish blacksmith in the 1800s.

She says: ‘Macmillan’s design was way ahead of its time, but he didn’t get proper recognition. It was a fascinating period in history, with so much social and industrial change, and it’s wonderful to think a rural blacksmith was in on the start of such an important invention. It’s been great fun to bring his story to life. ’

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Betty Tindal launches new work

We're delighted to show you Betty Tindal launching her poetry pamphlet Journey at Solstice at A’ the Airts in Sanqhuar last night. The pamphlet is a Norse narrative illustrated beautifully by Hugh Bryden. Doug Curran and Betty then read a few poem snapshots from her collection in progress, ‘Family Album’.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PEN pic - Liu Xiaobo in Castle Douglas

Here is a picture from the South West Scotland PEN reading in the King's Arms in Castle Douglas, for Liu Xiaobo. The King's Arms kindly donated the room free of charge.

Excellent recordings can be found on America Pen of Liu Xiaobo's poetry read by writers including Edward Albee and Paul Auster. As well as the postcard poem 'A Small Rat in Prison', poems for his wife were read, including 'Longing to Escape' and the powerful, 'You Wait for Me With Dust'.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Bakehouse Welcome on Sat 30 April

We absolutely recommend an evening at The Bakehouse in the company of Liz Niven and John Burns on Saturday 30 April. The theme is Exploring China, be there 7pm for 7.30pm.

Chrys, Richard and John tell us they're delighted to be opening their new season with Liz and John who will be bringing their perspectives on China.

Liz Niven reads from her latest poetry collection ‘The Shard Box’ which takes its title from Chinese boxes constructed from wood and inset with smashed porcelain. In English, and in Scots, Liz recounts experiences of travelling in Asia as well as closer, domestic concerns. Other poetry collections include Burning Whins, Stravaigin and Cree Lines. Liz’s writing and editing in support of Scots Language in education has been twice awarded the TESS/Saltire Awards and her poetry, the McCash/Herald prize.

'Alternately tinkling and refracting like fragments of fine porcelain and clattering percussively like Olympics construction works, The Shard Box is a vivid portrait of modern China', The Skinny (Feb 2011)

Poet and fiction writer John Burns reads from his Scots version of "Monkey", the Chinese classic that was a huge cult hit on television in the early 1980s. John writes in both English and in Scots. Books include "Celebration of the Light, Neil Gunn and Zen Buddhism", "Series of Dreams: the Vision Songs of Bob Dylan", and "Open Sky" - a collection of poems.

‘Monkey is a story for our times, and the vigour of the Scots language brings it vividly to life…it’s a Buddhist parable wisdom text but above all celebrates the irresistible nature of the central character Monkey, the wee ned who wins through to wisdom’

Tickets £8.00 (£7.00 concessions) includes a glass of wine

Ring 01557 814175 or email


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A few places left on free workshops at Homage to Wordsworth TODAY

There are a few spaces left on this FREE workshop, talk and reading, today at Gracefield Arts Centre! Ring up now! 01387 262084

2.30-4pm Poetry Workshop – ‘At home: living in the poem.’

With Helen Mort

What makes a landscape ‘home’? And how best to write about places we know well? Helen Mort, Poet in Residence with the Wordsworth Trust at Dove Cottage (Wordsworth’s home when he wrote much of his greatest work) will look at how to make familiar landscapes strange and how writers from Wordsworth to Philip Larkin and Ian McMillan have explored and reinvented the idea of ‘home’ in poetry.

6.30-7pm William Wordsworth: Selected Poems

Helen Mort and Andrew Forster, Poet in Residence and Literature Officer with the Wordsworth Trust, will read and talk about some of their favourite poems by Wordsworth along with new poems inspired by living and working in Wordsworth’s home.

7.15-8.15pm An illustrated artist talk by Charlie Poulsen

Charlie introduces the work in his exhibition and further afield. Find out how plants and landscapes have inspired some of his recent living installations.