Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Margaret Tait Celebrations

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018


Margaret Tait courtesy of the Estate of Margaret Tait

In November 2018 the George Mackay Brown Fellowship will share in a nationwide series of events to commemorate the centenary of birth of Orkney film-maker, director, writer and poet Margaret Tait who was born in Kirkwall on 11 November 1918.


Two events are being run by the Fellowship, alongside three further events run by other partners, over the weekend of 10th-11th November. find out more information on our Events pages!

2018 Writing Competition Open!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Henge in the Surge

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

HengeSurge OWC17


Delighted to launch Henge in the Surge, with great poems from the very talented writers on the Orkney Writers’ Course 2017. Featuring Aileen Ballantyne, Martin Malone, Catherine Eunson, Kate Oldfield, Christian Tait, Seonaid Stevenson, Fiona Sanderson and Abigail Zammit.

Christine de Luca at the Orkney Book Festival 2017

Friday, November 10th, 2017

On this Saturday 11th November 2.30-4.30pm Christine De Luca, Edinburgh’s Makar (or poet laureate) will give a creative writing workshop to which all young writers aged 8-12 are invited. The event will be held in collaboration with Wirdsmit and will take place in the Orkney Library and Archive as part of the Orkney Book Festival. This event is free.

Christine lives in Edinburgh but was born and brought up in Shetland. She writes poetry in both English and in Shetlandic. Her first two poetry collections, Voes & Sounds (1994) and Wast Wi Da Valkyries (1997) won the Shetland Literary Prize. Dat Trickster Sun, published by Mariscat Press in 2014, was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets. Her selected poems, Mondes Parallels (Parallel Worlds), won the poetry Prix du Livre Insulaire. Her first novel, And Then Forever, was published in 2011.

Acutely sensitive to the riches and expressive power of dialect speech and writing, and aware too of how quickly languages can be lost, she has encouraged the use of dialect among younger Shetlanders and has written dialect stories for a range of age groups.

Christine was the judge of this year’s George Mackay Brown and Wirdsmit Writing Competitions for adults and young people and will present the prizes at the Orkney Library and Archive at 1.15 and 1.45pm on Saturday 11 November.

She will take part in the Dialect Forum chaired by writer Duncan McLean at 2-4pm in the Warehouse Buildings on Sunday 12 November.

You can also hear Christine reading at the final event of the Orkney Book Festival with Amy Liptrot and Tim Morrison at 7.30pm in Stromness Town Hall on Sunday 12 November

Jane Harris at the Orkney Book Festival 2017

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Jane Harris

Jane Harris: Saturday 11 November 11.00am-12 noon, Orkney Library & Archive

Jane Harris will read from her latest book, Sugar Money, out last month and already attracting lavish praise in reviews. She will answer questions from Orkney Library’s reading Groups who have also read her previous two novels. They will no doubt request the presence not only of Lucien, the thoroughly engaging narrator of Sugar Money, but also the delightful Bessy from The Observations and perhaps even Harriet Baxter, the spiky doubtful heroine of Gillespie and I. Though her work explores dark and troubling themes, and the worst that human beings can do to one another, there is warmth and compassion at the heart of it.

This event is also open to the general public.

JANE HARRIS’s best-selling debut, The Observations, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and chosen by Richard and Judy as one of 100 Books of the Decade. Her novel, Gillespie & I, was shortlisted for the National Book Awards. Jane’s work is published in 20 territories. Sugar Money is her third novel.

From Orkney to the Caribbean, Shetland to Canada at the Orkney Book Festival 2017

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Readings with Jane Harris, Jocelyn Rendall, Robert Alan Jamieson, Harry Giles.

We like to think of ourselves as good folk, but Orkney, like the rest of Scotland, sent forth some of its sons to participate in and profit from the trades that used enslaved people to harvest its products, sugar and tobacco. Orkney men, and occasionally a woman, also took part in the colonisation of Canada.

In this evening of two halves, Jane Harris will read from and talk about her newly published novel, Sugar Money, which brings to life a harrowing series of events in 1765 involving a group of slaves in the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Grenada.

And Jocelyn Rendall from Papay, will read from her ongoing research into Orkney’s connections with the slave trade.

Then there will be an Interval with music too.

The second half of the evening begins with Robert Alan Jamieson reading from his latest novel, macCloud Falls, set in British Columbia, Canada, in which an Edinburgh bookseller, recovering from cancer, goes in search of a Shetland ancestor and discovers that the land rights disputes between indigenous peoples and colonists are very much alive.

Earlier this year Harry Giles travelled across Canada with Métis writer Katherena Vermette. Harry’s discovery of a form of creole with distinct roots in Orkney dialect, spoken in Manitoba until the mid 20th Century, raised interesting questions for their work about the role of Orcadians in the development of that country.

Saturday 11 November at 7.30pm in St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall

Sara Bailey and Gabrielle Barnby at the Orkney Book Festival 2017

Thursday, November 9th, 2017


On an evening that starts with Orkney’s past and its links with our patron saint, St Magnus, we move to the present with locally based authors Sara Bailey & Gabrielle Barnby. They will read from their debut novels and from other work, bringing to life the sometimes febrile relationships between adolescent girls and love rivalries amongst women, acted out against the backdrop of a landscape that stirs deep emotions.

Friday 10 November at 8pm right after the GMB Memorial lecture in The Warehouse Buildings, Stromness. This will be followed by an Open Mic session featuring members of Stromness Writing Group.

SARA BAILEY: author, consultant and lecturer, has worked with writers from Southampton to Shetland and various points in between. Currently she is working on her second novel, The Incomer, and writing the Creative Writing Degree for UHI launching in 2018. Non-Fiction: Writing the Horror Movie (Bloomsbury in 2013). Fiction: Dark Water (Nightingale 2016).

GABRIELLE BARNBY moved with her family to Orkney in 2011. She writes in a variety of styles and enjoys being involved in local writing workshops and events. Her first novel The Oystercatcher Girl and her collection The House with the Lilac Shutters and other stories are both published by ThunderPoint.

Writing in Orcadian at the Orkney Book Festival 2017

Wednesday, November 8th, 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.

From Page to Screen: Writing and Film at the Orkney Book Festival

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

A strand running through this year’s Orkney Book Festival is the close connection between writing and film.

Film is a powerful medium for story-telling in today’s society – and begins with the creative act of writing and crafting of a script. Dr. Sara Bailey is a writer and lecturer with many years of experience of working with authors and screenwriters. Writing the Horror Movie was published by Bloomsbury in 2014 and her novel Dark Water was published by Nightingale Editions in 2016. She is currently developing a Creative Writing degree for the university of the Highlands and Islands and completing her second novel.

You can join Sara in a writing workshop Introduction to Screenwriting on Friday 10 November 2-4pm, Cromarty Hall, St Margaret’s Hope. Places are still available and can be booked by email ( or by telephone 850992).

‘Not as good as the book’ is a complaint often uttered by readers with a sense of disappointment or even betrayal at screen adaptations of their favourite novels.

Not so in the case of Mike Nichols’ 1967 film The Graduate based on Charles Webb’s first and most famous novel, written soon after he graduated from Williams College, Massachusetts.

This will be shown at West Side Cinema in collaboration with Film Fortnight in Stromness Town Hall at 7:15 for a 7:45 start on Thursday 9 November.

2017 Orkney Book Festival: Press Release

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

Last week The Orcadian published our press release about the Book Festival. Here it is in full, packed with information about what to expect. Remember events kick off this Thursday evening – hope to see you there!

The third Orkney Book Festival begins next week and will run from Thursday 9 until Sunday 12 November in venues in Kirkwall, Stromness, St Margaret’s Hope and Shapinsay.

Organised by the George Mackay Brown Fellowship with its partners the Orkney Library and Archive and West Side Cinema, and funded by Creative Scotland and the OIC Culture Fund, an exciting line-up of events will share new writing in all the languages of Orkney and explore links across the Atlantic and with the Caribbean, uncovering challenging journeys, dislocation and connections.

The Festival will include readings, writing workshops, open mic sessions, a renga and the annual George Mackay Brown Memorial Lecture. Events celebrating Magnus 900 and Stromness Per Mare will also feature and, in partnership with West Side Cinema and Film Fortnight, a screening of Mike Nichols’ 1967 film The Graduate based on a novella by Charles Webb.

Visiting writers are Christine de Luca, Harry Giles, Jane Harris, Robert Alan Jamieson and Amy Liptrot and published writers based in Orkney include Sara Bailey, Simon Hall, Morag MacInnes, Tim Morrison, Jocelyn Rendall and others.

The Festival will include four writing workshops: Aspects of Fiction with novelist Robert Alan Jamieson, whose latest novel, MacCloud Falls has just been published, is on Friday 10 November 2-4pm, Warehouse Buildings, Stromness; Introduction to Screenwriting with novelist and screenwriter Sara Bailey is also on Friday 10 November 2-4pm, Cromarty Hall, St Margaret’s Hope. Places for these are still available and can be booked by email ( or by telephone 850992). A workshop on Life Writing with Amy Liptrot, author of the award-winning nature memoir The Outrun, hosted by Elwick Bookwrights at the Boathouse, Shapinsay, 10.15-12 noon on Saturday 11 November is sold out. A Wirdsmit session with Edinburgh Makar, Christine de Luca, to which young writers aged 8-12 are welcome will be held 2.30-4.30 in the Orkney Library and Archive, Kirkwall (no booking required).

Award winning writer Jane Harris whose most recent novel, Sugar Money, was published by Faber last month, will be at the Reading Group session in the Orkney Library and Archive, Kirkwall, chaired by Alison Miller on Saturday 11 November 11am-12.30pm.

The George Mackay Brown Memorial Lecture, given this year by writer, musician and academic Sarah Jane Gibbon on Magnus in Birsay, will explore recent findings being uncovered on the site of the medieval Christ’s Kirk, Birsay. It will take place at 7pm in the Warehouse Buildings, Stromness on Friday 10 November.

Shetland poet Christine de Luca will award prizes for this year’s George Mackay Brown Fellowship/ Wirdsmit writing competitions for adults and children celebrating both Magnus 900 and Stromness 200 in the Orkney Library and Archive from 1.15 pm on Saturday 11 November.

The Festival embraces writing in all the languages of Orkney and on Saturday 11 November Orkney writers Emma Grieve, Simon Hall, Morag MacInnes will read, joined by other writers in an Orcadian open mic session 3-4.30pm in the Orkney Library and Archive. On Sunday 12 November a dialect forum chaired by writer and local businessman Duncan McLean will take place 2-4pm in the Warehouse Buildings, Stromness with Christine de Luca, Harry Giles, Simon Hall, Robert Alan Jamieson and Morag MacInnes.

Jane Harris, Harry Giles, Robert Alan Jamieson and Jocelyn Rendall will read on Saturday 11 November at 7.30pm in the St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall and the closing event of the Festival is a reading on Sunday12 November, 7.30pm Stromness Town Hall with Christine de Luca, Amy Liptrot and Tim Morrison.

Admission to events is £5 (concessions £4; carers free) and a Whole Festival Pass is also available at the door. Full details of all events will appear in next Thursday’s issue of the Orcadian and are available on the George Mackay Brown Fellowship website and Facebook page.