Writing in Orcadian at the Orkney Book Festival 2017

The question of the validity of literature written in minority dialects continues to be hotly debated among writers and readers.

At this Orkney Book Festival we aim to highlight the impressive range of writing in Orcadian that has been developing over the last few years and to provide a platform for a discussion on the merits and potential pitfalls of writing in dialects other than Standard English.

On Saturday 11 November from 3.30 to 4.30pm in Orkney Library & Archive we will hear readings from Morag MacInnes, Simon W Hall and Emma Grieve, three Orkney writers who have been developing work in different versions of Orcadian. And then we will open the floor to other writers in Orcadian.

MORAG MACINNES has poems and fiction in a variety of anthologies including, recently, Working the Map, Hansel Co-operative Press, Orkney Stoor and Speak for Yourself, Abersee Press. In 2008 Hansel published Alias Isobel , her vivid reimagining in a muscular old Orcadian dialect of the life of Isobel Gunn, who sailed from Orkney to Canada and passed herself off as a man to work in the Hudson’s Bay Company.

SIMON W HALL is author of Saltire prize winning The History of Orkney Literature, and has also been building up a body of his own work in poetry and fiction. While on secondment as a Scots Language Co-ordinator, he translated The Gruffalo into Orcadian. More recently his work has appeared in Orkney Stoor, Speak for Yourself and the online magazine, The Cafe Review .

EMMA GRIEVE is a poet, singer, song writer. Her poems have appeared in Orkney Stoor and she was commissioned by BBC Radio Orkney to write a poem to be broadcast on National Poetry Day 2016. Her poetry caught the attention and earned the praise of Rachel McCrum, BBC Radio Scotland’s first Poet in Residence. She writes in English, and in Orcadian where issues of identity are uppermost.

An OPEN MIC session will follow in which other writers in Orcadian will have the opportunity to read their work. We hope that those who have been writing away in solitude will come up to the mic and share their work with us.

On Sunday 12 November from 2.00pm in The Warehouse Buildings, Stromness we are hosting a special panel discussion, chaired by Duncan McLean on Writing in Other Dialects. Along with Orcadians Morag MacInnes, Simon Hall and Harry Giles, Shetlanders Christine De Luca and Robert Alan Jamieson will explore the ins an oots. This will be followed by an Open Mic session where writers writing in any of Orkney’s languages can come up to the mic and read their work.

DUNCAN MCLEAN is the author of several works of fiction including the award winning Bucket of Tongues, Blackden and Bunker Man. He also writes plays and songs and performs with his group, The Driftwood Cowboys. In Edinburgh in the 1990s he set up Clocktower Press which published a slew of now famous Scottish writers, including Irvine Welsh, Janice Galloway, James Meek and Alan Warner. Two years ago he set up Abersee Press to publish

Orkney writers, including writers in Orcadian and English, and has already produced two anthologies, Orkney Stoor, Speak for Yourself, with two more, Dark Island and Swiet Haar in the pipeline.

CHRISTINE DE LUCA, based in Edinburgh, writes in English and Shetlandic, her mother tongue. She was Edinburgh’s Makar for 2014-2017. Besides children’s stories and a novel, she has had seven poetry collections and four bi-lingual volumes published (French, Italian, Icelandic and Norwegian) and participated in festivals in Canada, India, France, Norway and Iceland.

ROBERT ALAN JAMIESON is a Shetland-born writer, author of five novels and two collections of poetry, and has been a tutor of Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh since 2001. Much of his poetry is written in Shetlandic. His most recent book, macCloud Falls is a novel set in British Columbia, and was published by Luath Press in 2017.

HARRY GILES is from Orkney and lives in Edinburgh. Their latest publication is the collection Tonguit from Freight Books, shortlisted for the 2016 Forward Prize for Best First Collection. They were the 2009 BBC Scotland slam champion, co-direct the live art platform ANATOMY, and have toured participatory theatre across Europe and Leith.

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