A tale of two book fairs

3 Nov

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Last Saturday I found myself, through a lack of planning, in the predicament of needing to attend two book fairs in the one day, with the added complication of beginning to develop a heavy cold.

The fist event I attended was the Linlithgow Book Festival.  Although one of the smaller festivals it appears to have growing steadily over the years and is now attracting an impressive array of names speaking on a vast array of subjects.

The first thing that attracted me to the Linlithgow Book Festival was the annual poetry workshop lead by Andrew Philip.  Andrew is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting contemporary Scottish poets around  and, without wishing to appear like a stalker, I had no wish to miss his workshop on the subject of form.

Personally I have always let the poem announce its form to me and then work it into the shape it has declared for itself.  Andrew instead gave us rules to obey from the outset.  Although we had been given ten words to include in a ten line poem (one of the words in each line) all on the rough theme of Halloween, I found myself writing on the theme of Eve.  When I got home and reviewed the poem, I actually realised I had been writing about myself, something I don’t find easy to do.  A perfect illustration of what Andrew had been trying to tell us, that by giving yourself rules, or restrictions, you can sometimes unlock part of your creative subconscious.

The poem I wrote was very rough, and needs a lot of work if I am ever to feel confident to show it in public.  However there were some excellent creations from the other participants.  The group also collaboratively wrote a poem which is soon to be available on the Linlithgow Book Festival website.  A chocolate bar to anyone who can guess which two lines came from me.

The second book fair I attended was the 13th Edinburgh Independent and Radical Book Fair, organised by Word Power Books.  This book fair I approached with trepidation.  With Word Power and AK Press both in the same city my family has managed to spend a sizable portion of disposable income in these shops.  If ever there was a family likely to ruin itself because of an instable lust for radical text it is mine.  I was very aware of the massive, yet to read pile by my bed, and had no wish to add further to it, while perusing all the books I had to keep on reminding myself that I could not afford the time for more.

I had mainly attended to hear the talk by Alexander Moffat and Alan Riach on “Arts of Resistance:  Poets, Portraits and the Landscape of Modern Scotland.”  I shall go into more detail about this talk in my next blog post.  I can report from the festival that there was an outstanding number of books, covering a host of subjects that will ge the intellectual sparks flying.  I must mention SelfMadeHero for their standout graphic noveles of A Picture of Dorian Gray, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Crime and Punishment, The Master and Margareta and The Trail; and Popshot a magazine of poetry and illustration.

I, of course, bought two books, and barely stopped myself going back the next day to buy more.

2 Responses to “A tale of two book fairs”

  1. Andrew Philip November 3, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    Glad the workshop worked for you, Mairi. I definitely think you’ve got something worth working on there.


  1. LBF 09 « Website and blog of the Scottish poet Andrew Philip - November 8, 2009

    […] participants, one of whom had brought a friend and another of whom has blogged about the event here. Even if the room was a bit on the chilly side, the atmosphere was lively and warm. I was very […]

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