Hosted by Jenny Lindsay of Rally & Broad, the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writer Showcase is the opportunity for 2014’s winners to show what they’ve been working on, reading snippets of their books to collections of their poetry. You can also download an eBook with extended versions of work by those from the night’s event.
This has ended up being a cobbled together piece from notes at the end of each part of the night, but know that all the writers are ridiculously talented, so definitely check out the eBook at the very least to check out their work!
Gail Honeyman‘s Eleanor Oliphant turns to an evening after an average romantic encounter, detailing the smallest of details from the ankle length nightgown reminiscent of childhood sweets, to the magic of Jane Eyre, being able to open at any page and jump right into the story. In the small space, you still get a good feel for the character, such is the ease of her style, as well as being both dark and funny.
Jonathan Durie‘s poems show the brilliance of live poetry, bringing his rhythmic telling to the diverse mix of topics. It’s these settings, in the performance, when you can really appreciate poetry, seeing how the author intends it to be read, and this collection proves very entertaining.
Lindsay McKrell‘s Lily Wicked feels similar (although, from such a short extract, who can be sure!) to Lemony Snicket’s work, but has some real powerful lines as Lily’s mother is wooed by a strange man. She knew her enemy and, “Little girls can be as dangerous as charming men.”
Orla Broderick‘s tale of a young girl at Catholic school who’s being spoken to about periods, The January Flower, is one of the surprises of the evening, a hysterical and frank handling of the topic, with the added ‘only your husband can stick things in there’ argument against Tampax from a Sister.
Martin MacInnes‘ story is slow and touching, using salt as a key theme as one that can preserve but can also decay. A very well crafted piece of work, and definitely indicative of his style as you read the his excerpt in the eBook. Calum MacLeoid‘s work in Gaelic was prefaced by a short synopsis: character is collecting bottles when he stumbles across a corpse. The reading is animated, and though I don’t speak Gaelic I do appreciate the fact I heard Taking Back Sunday mentioned!
Alison Gray‘s reading takes places on a train in Japan, and in that short time the sheer knowledge and research of the area is clear. It feels authentic, but remains a really funny, snappy piece. Em Strang‘s poetry trio of poetry is varied and entertaining, another reinforcement to the difference in seeing poetry live vs. on the page.
Phil Murnin‘s Scots submission nails the dialect as he recalls how ‘Kenny Boyle is your fault’, how the new boyfriend came into the character’s mother’s life. ‘Post the Jammy Dodgers and fuck off. Love Mum’. Steaphan MacRisnidh is the second Gaelic reader of the evening, detailing a story of a boy who pinched some money from the church collection and wanted to return it.
Bridget Khursheed‘s poetry is really fantastic; the way in which she approaches describing the colour of snow is so well conceived that it’s beyond the skill of many. Juliette Forrest‘s story Twister, in which a young girl is introducing herself on her first day of a new school, is almost lyrical in its approach, told in a mid-western drawl that manages to use childlike language to describe stuff wtihout feeling childish.
Ann MacKinnon‘s collection of poems are all in Scots and with the theme of coming home, all snappy and able to raise a smile. Malachy Tallack‘s snippet from travelogue Sixty Degrees North (published July 2015 – Polygon) details an encounter with a bear and how to avoid being dead over playing dead. It’s on point and witty, bringing a real sense of humour to the end of the evening. “Pepper spray is pretty much the last resort when faced with a brown bear.”
These little snippets evidently do very little justice to an evening of incredible talent.