Soutar Festival of Words

March 25, 2019 by Perthshire Creates

Soutar Festival of Words – An exciting new Perthshire Literary Festival

This new weekend festival, organised by the charitable trust, Culture Perth & Kinross, celebrates the beauty of the Scots language, Gaelic and contemporary Scottish culture over the weekend of 26-28 April.

There are over 20 events including author talks, the Perthshire poetry slam, children’s events, music and opportunities for local people to gain an insight into the world of creative writing.  In venues and outdoor locations across Perth from the AK Bell Library and St John’s Kirk to Perth Museum and Art Gallery. There will also be the opportunity to explore the local area on literary walking tours including the Corbenic Poetry Path, a poetry walk in Buckie Braes and a chance to visit places mentioned in Walter Scott’s 1828 novel, The Fair Maid of Perth.

There’s a packed programme of events opening on Friday 26 April at Perth Museum and Art Gallery with a Crime Writers Panel Event, Denzil Meyrick, Neil Broadfoot and Douglas Skelton are in conversation about setting the scene in crime writing and beyond.  Also on that evening is In a Sma Room at Perth Theatre, a musical event celebrating the poems of William Soutar through original music written by Debra Salem, Kevin Mackenzie and Paul Harrison.

At the AK Bell Library on Friday night, Professor Kirsteen McCue will present the annual Soutar Lecture, looking at how Soutar’s experience and theories of ‘Dreams’ played their part in his growing stature as a published poet.

The festival continues on Saturday 27 April with award-winning author Alex Gray hosting a creative writing workshop at the AK Bell Library for keen writers looking to take that next step. At Perth Museum and Art Gallery, illustrator Kate Leiper will create and develop characters in a fun workshop for both children and adults.

A younger audience can enjoy the festival at the AK Bell Library on Saturday morning as staff present storytime and Bookbug Rhymetime sessions with a difference, presenting the sessions Gaelic and Scots.

In addition on Saturday morning, there is a chance to catch a screening of The Garden Beyond, produced by Douglas Eadie,a dramatised enactment of the life of William Soutar, originally made for the BBC Omnibus programme in the 1970s.

William Soutar was a Scottish poet, born in 1898 in Perth. He served in the Navy in World War I and afterwards studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he encountered the work of Hugh MacDiarmid. This led to a radical alteration in his work, and he became a leading poet of the Scottish Literary Renaissance and ‘one of the greatest poets Scotland has produced’. In 1924, he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis and from 1930 he was bedridden. He died of tuberculosis in 1943 in Perth. His journal, Diary of a Dying Man, was published posthumously and is considered to ‘put him into the rank of the great diarists’

At Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday afternoon, local author Ajay Close will lead a discussion of the unique, passionate and sometimes bittersweet bond between a mother and daughter,  while publishers Tippermuir Books, Red Squirrel Press and Big Dog Books Publisher Panel Event will help and inspire budding authors.

At the AK Bell Library, author Susi Briggs will go on a diddle daddle journey to find stories, music and wee pixies as she explores the beauty that is the Scots language.  Saturday will be capped off with a visit from award-winning author Bernard MacLaverty at the Soutar Theatre in the AK Bell Library. Forty years on from his first book, Bernard will be reading from his most recent work and discussing his life as a writer.

On Sunday the festival’s Emerging Authors Showcase Event will celebrate emerging authors with a visit from three of Scotland’s newest and most exciting authors; Conner McAleese, Tracey Emerson and Liz MacWhirter, as they look to inspire anyone thinking about writing or publishing their first book.

On Sunday afternoon, Hotchpotch appear in Perth for the first time, with a chance for writers, readers and listeners to react creatively to current affairs at an open mic event.

The Festival draws to a close on Sunday evening with a special performance of Perth Chamber choir Chansons in St John’s Kirk. Chansons will be celebrating their 40th Anniversary on Sunday, April 28 with a specially commissioned suite of songs to words by William Soutar from Edinburgh composer Tom Cunningham. The choir’s celebratory concert  Voice & Verse on Sunday evening will include the world première performance of this attractive work. Full details of this event can be found on the choir’s website

As part of the Soutar festival, poet Jon Plunkett has a 6 week poet in residency working with the community to promote the festival and produce a commissioned piece that will be performed during the festival.  As founder of the Corbenic Poetry Path Jon is joined there on Sunday 28 April, by local poet Jim Mackintosh and Scottish flute player, Munro Gauld, for a Corbenic Poetry Path Walk, where you can learn all about the founding of the path as well as its exciting future developments.

The top image relates to Mammietung / Memmetaal with poets David Eyre and Geart Tigchelaar, and event where David explores the connections and echoes between Scots and Frisian poetry, through the work of the Frisian poet Geart Tigchelaar.

The Soutar Festival of Words is kindly supported by The Friends of William Soutar, The Jimmie Cairncross Trust and The Forteviot Trust.