As it’s February, I’d forgive you if you expected my first column to be about book recommendations for Valentines Day (as an ex-bookseller I now have two very long lists: one pro and one anti) or cute literary gift ideas to give your beloved on the big, Hallmark-sullied day (although I would feel awful for not giving these lovely folk a shout out).
The reason I haven’t is because it would be exceeding clichéd and boring, and none of us want that, right? (Unless you do, in which case I’ll email you those book lists.)
To pre-warn you, this column will be an array of reviews, interviews, ranty articles, feisty features and anything that pops into my head. Sounds a bit unhinged but if you like Scottish literature, we’re going to get along just fine.
An easy start to break you in then, and the first thing I want to do is let you know where some of the cool literary kids are hanging out this month. We’re probably all guilty of choosing to stay in over the last few months but it’s time to stop hibernating and let your mind feast on some literary goodness.
February is a cracker of a month for events, but I’m going to pick out the ones that you should be saving your pennies for because missing these will be a travesty. You hear me? A TRAVESTY.
The Accelerator with Tim Turnbull, Kevin Cadwallender, Skye Loneragan and Miko Berry
12th February, 8pm, Canon’s Gait, Edinburgh, £4/3
First up, we have The Accelerator’s explosive night in Edinburgh’s Canon’s Gait with Jem Rolls and Bram E. Gieben pulling together a fantastic line up.
This Accelerator night will deliver the best of the most electrifying poets around, featuring the talents of Tim Turnbull and Red Squirrel Press editor Kevin Cadwallender.
Joining them from the Sydney Writers’ festival is Skye Loneragan who has been bigged up by The Herald and Scotsman, and the audience will see exactly why co-founder of Loud Poets and Glasgow Slam Champ, Miko Berry, is fast becoming one of the most exciting names in performance poetry.
And if you can’t get along to this Accelerator (or you can’t get enough) they have a Glasgow performance the very next evening at The Roxy 171 with Miko Berry performing once more alongside the vivacious Viv Gee, the scintillating Leyla O’Reilly and Glasgow’s finest; Stephen Watt. Prepare your minds because they are about to get a poetry mind fuck.
13th February, 8pm, McChuills Glasgow, free
Fail Better evenings include, but are not limited to, some of the most fascinating readings of poetry and stories in Glasgow. As well as having Amal El Mutal and Amy Shipwa dishing out some hearty portions of stimulating words, Fail Better have also roped in Louie, Chrissy Barnacle and Bobby Nicholson to keep the night rocking and rolling! With the lovely Becci Wallace hosting and keeping the artists (mostly) under control, the Fail Better crowd look set to bring the house down once more.
One of the many things I like about Fail Better as well is that instead of a set ticket price, the event is free but they ask for some donations to help cover the artists’ travel fares. So for a small donation, you can end up getting yourself in to this action packed evening. Who knows? You might even meet your Valentine date in there…
21st February, 7.30pm, Summerhall, Edinburgh
Being called “John Green but grittier” Anderson’s debut novel is being officially launched in the spectacular venue that is the Summerhall in Edinburgh.
According to the Glasgow Review of Books, Swings and Roundabouts is “a devastating and fearless story about two broken people trying to fit together, told with an incredible sensitivity and compassion that will no doubt leave the reader with a tear or two” while The List celebrates the fact “Anderson succeeds in breaking down the typical stereotypes and offers a deeper understanding of mental health, which should be commended.”
Swings and Roundabouts is a first-rate debut that deserves a lot of attention for its exploration of mental health.
Expect wine, questions, wine, book buying, probably a little more wine and a stunning space to do it all in.
28th February, 7.30 pm, Summerhall, Edinburgh, £9
Ah, time for another marvellous Neu! Reekie! I must admit I have a soft spot for these nights, not just for their eccentric line ups and phenomenal performances, but the two lads that run it (Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen) are passionate about creativity and are stand up gents.
As with any Neu Reekie night, you can except spoken word, music, film and animation. The main reason why these nights kick literary ass is because each and every one of their performers you would pay to see on their lonesome – the fact you get all of these people for £9 is an absolute bargain!
There’s a lot to love about this Neu Reekie: there’s some outstanding poetry from the likes of Luke Wright and Patience Agbabi, the wonderful Band of Holy Joy are going to rock the house, Bram E. Gieben is popping his Neu Reekie cherry and Professor Electrik Al has some animations to astound and amuse.
And though I’m never one to pick favourites, I will make an exception here, as the phenomenal Momus will be stopping off on his tour that includes Barcelona, Milan, Stuttgart and Berlin to mesmerise your ears with his weird and wonderful music.
As you’ll no doubt have picked up, Neu Reekie always sell out SO BUY TICKETS IMMEDIATELY.
New Writing Showcase: Octavius Magazine, Far Off Places and From Glasgow to Saturn Journal
1st March, The Old Hairdressers, Glasgow, free
Although technically not in February, I don’t want to miss mentioning a little event I’m particularly looking forward to.
Three of the hottest literary journals have joined forces to provide an afternoon of wordy delight. Octavius Magazine, Far Off Places and From Glasgow to Saturn are taking over Glasgow’s quirky Old Hairdressers and everyone’s invited for some drink, chat and, of course, fantastic readers from all three publications.
These folk work tirelessly round the clock to publish some wonderful new voices and are definitely worth keeping an eye on – the next big things will be emerging from this lot…
So, there’s the best of the best of Scottish literature events happening this month. A stunning line up if I do say so myself.
Next month I’ll be looking at the Glasgow Women’s Library, International Women’s Day and exploring the view that women have been relatively quiet in the independence debate.