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Word up… Scotland’s first post-lockdown live poetry festival set for this weekend

Doric champion Jo Gilbert will be in action at the Wee Gatherin' poetry festival in Stonehaven this weekend.
Doric champion Jo Gilbert will be in action at the Wee Gatherin' poetry festival in Stonehaven this weekend.

Scotland’s first live poetry festival in the wake of lockdown will take place in the north-east this weekend.

The line-up of more than 30 writers will see some of Scotland’s most popular and celebrated poets descending on Stonehaven on Friday July 23 and Saturday July 24 for the free mini-festival, Wee Gatherin.

Those taking part will include Aberdeen’s Sheena Blackhall and Lesley Benzie, Hugh McMillan, Stirling Makar Laura Fyfe, George Gunn, Harry Smart, and Doric champion Jo Gilbert.

Poet Neil Young is one of the organisers of the Wee Gatherin’, taking place this weekend.

Organisers of the event – staged by The Poets’ Republic magazine, Stonehaven-based poet Neil Young, and the Trading Corner – promise “verbal fireworks and lyrical shenanigans”.

An event to lift people’s spirits

Neil said: “The fact we have poets travelling here for the weekend from so many compass points – Caithness, Glasgow and, in the case of the writer Bob Beagrie, even Middlesbrough in northern England – shows how keen people are to read live in front an audience…  socially distanced, of course.

“After more than a year in our rabbit hutches, this is an event to lift people’s spirits.”

He added that the event was originally scheduled for summer 2020 but was hit by the pandemic. The Wee Gatherin aims to showcase the best in contemporary Scottish poetry away from the country’s usual urban centres.

Neil said: “Thankfully, the stars now seem aligned in our favour for what will be Scotland’s first live (Zoom-free) poetry mini-festival following the easing of restrictions.”

Sheena Blackhall will be part of the Wee Gatherin line-up this weekend.

Cracking line-up of readers

Events will be held at the town’s Tolbooth Museum Courtyard, the Trading Corner shop and social hub and Stonehaven Bowling Club.

Neil hopes the festival will become an annual event, alongside the likes of the folk festival, Hogmanay fireballs and Midsummer Beer Happening, adding to Stonehaven’s reputation as a focal point for cultural activities.

He said: “The events at the Trading Corner are already booked out, but we would encourage young, old, middling, poetry devotees or sceptics to come along to the bowling club on Saturday from 1pm to 3pm and 7pm to 10pm when there will be a cracking line-up of readers, plus publishers’ showcase, and to the Tolbooth Museum from 4pm to 5.30pm.”

For more information and line-ups, visit poetsrepublic.online


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