Sunday, 25 April 2010

Hieton Writers' Group, Hamilton

Once upon a time, when the days seemed longer and the weeks were full of promise, I facilitated writing workshops once a fortnight for a lovely group of writers in Hamilton. Lovely - but also talented, intelligent and warm-hearted.

Since that time, I've worked almost exclusively on teaching The Open University's creative writing courses online. Online teaching suits me very well: the OU's courses provide high quality learning; I can plan the working hours to suit myself; and I can break for coffee or eat lunch in front of the screen and no-one notices. It also suits me because I meet people from different parts of the UK and beyond. One element that is missing from most online teaching is face to face contact with writers - with only two dayschools a year on my OU courses.

For this reason, and to meet up again with old friends, I was delighted to accept an invitation by Hamilton's Hieton Writers' Group to run two workshops this April.

On an unseasonably bright April day, I took myself down to the grand blond sandstone building which is Hamilton Town House and introduced myself to the group. It was super to catch up on news with those I'd known previously and I was impressed at the way the group has developed, with a considerable number of new members, all of whom were keen writers and willing participants.

During the two classes, we looked at how to boost flagging language when writing about spring and summer, and how to boost our portrayal of momentous moments by using all five senses to help us visualise in close detail the people and places.

We worked on several exercises over the two weeks and I'm hoping to be invited to their end-of-year performance this June to hear them at their polished best!

George, Joey, Ian, Rita, Teresa, Jean and Eileen standing behind Sandra, Nan, Barbara and Jean.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Very exciting event at the Scottish Writers' Centre last week. Entitled 40 Glasgow Voices, it celebrated a special focus on the area by prestigious e-zine International Literary Quarterly. Founding editor, Peter Robertson, travelled from his home in Argentina to finalise arrangements and co-host the launch, which took place at the CCA on Thursday 8 April 2010.

40 Glasgow Voices is a special feature within issue 10 of the magazine. As the home page says: This will be the first of many features, to be published in the review, exploring the literary vibrancy and scope of different geographic locales.

Glasgow-based writers invited to appear in this issue include Anne Donovan, Zoe Wicomb, Jim Carruth, Des Dillon, Rodge Glass, David Kinloch, Laura Marney, Edwin Morgan, Gerry Loose and Suhayl Saadi. Reading on the night were six writers reading the work of seven contributors. Sue Reid Sexton read from her own novel but also read from a piece she has been co-writing with Kusay Hussein, originally from Baghdad and now living in the UK.  Gerry Fellows, Alan Riach, Peter Manson, Sheila Puri, Jane Goldman and Ewan Morrison also read on the evening and all were warmly received. MC for the night was Donal McLaughlin, who has a Liam story in the feature. Full texts and fine visuals are available for all contributors on-line.

Also worth noting in InterLitQ is a feature called Volta: A Multilingual AnthologyVolta is a poem by Richard Berengarten. Over issues 9 and 10 of InterLitQ, this poem has been translated into 82 languages. This is truly something remarkable and surely a feat like this could only be accomplished by a magazine that spans the globe electronically and is international in its scope. And all of this, accessible without charge around the world.  Definitely a site to support.

Well done to all involved for such an animated launch night at the Scottish Writers' Centre!