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Past Words 2012

Black Isle Words 2012 took place on Friday 7 - Sunday 9 September  in Cromarty.

Salty dogs and Sea Tales

Black Isle Words coincided with a fantastic series of events being organised by the two artists in residence at Aberdeen Lighthouse Research Station, Stephen Hurrell and Mark Lyken. Find out more about them on their blog and the Inverness Old Town Art (IOTA) website (they’re the supporters of the residency)
2012 Programme

Friday 7 September 19.30

We kick off Black Isle Words 2012 with a double performance from Andrew Greig and Lesley Glaister, partners in life, but in writing established and respected in their own right. The two pieces will be:
Found at Sea

Andrew Greig will read from his poem sequence written after a memorable open dinghy sailing trip from Stromness on mainland Orkney out to the abandoned island of Cava.
Hailing from the side of the Bannockburn, Andrew’s life has covered a varied terrain since, several showing a continued attraction to water, with homes in South Queensferry and Stromness, Orkney. His writing has been similarly varied, and includes poems, novels and non-fiction. At the Loch of the Green Corrie, combines meditations on Assynt, Norman MacCaig, personal memoir, and male friendship - and water sides once again - with the story of a three day fishing quest. To find out more, take a look at Andrew’s website

Little Egypt

We’ll be highly privileged to hear Lesley read an extract from her current work in progress, Little Egypt, set in the 1920's and featuring a child's voyage across the sea to Egypt.
Lesley is a fiction writer, playwright and teacher of writing. Her first novel was published in 1990 and since then she’s published 11 further novels and numerous short stories.  Lesley has won a number of awards and literary prizes, and several of her dramas have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Her first stage play, Bird Calls, was performed at Sheffield’s Crucible Studio Theatre in 2004.
Lesley also teaches creative writing at the University of St Andrews and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her special interest is the study of narrative perspective, voice and point of view, how the delicate and invisible manipulation of reader response can mysteriously elevate a work of fiction.

Saturday 8 September

10.00 Ian Stephen

A regular at Black Isle Words, always popular and always showing a wonderful enthusiasm and joy of life, Ian will be sharing his maritime poems that reflect a love of the sea. He’ll also be including some short films made with Andy Mackinnon of Taigh Chearsabhagh in response to navigating the routes of 3 Gaelic songs in community-owned vessels.
Ian became a full-time writer of poetry, prose and drama in 1995 after 15 years in the coastguard. He is internationally known as an inspirational leader of storytelling and poetry workshops, and his writing has been published in many countries.

11.30 Brian Wilson
Postcards from Atlantis

Brian will be giving an illustrated talk about his intrepid kayaking voyages and how these inspire his writing. His two books Blazing Paddles and Dances with Waves are known for their interweaving mix of adventure travel, environment and folklore, showing the drama, humour and philosophical connections between people, places and events. Appropriately for a weekend of sea and lighthouses, Brian says that Robert Louis Stevenson is one of his sources of inspiration.

Comments on his books include:

'As good a maritime sage as has ever come out of the Scottish seas.’ The Scotsman
‘I don’t know whether the adventure itself or the story of it deserves the greater admiration; the combination strikes me as a triumph – which I hope will have many successors.’ BBC RADIO 4 – A Book at Bedtime

Brian lives on the West Highland shore, near to Ullapool. He continues to write, contributing a monthly column Stern Words to Ocean Paddler, and works as a freelance environmental contractor and trainer specialising in traditional stonework and thatching - he is currently thatcher to HRH Prince Charles at Birkhall.
You can find out more about Brian on the Two Ravens website and at the Scottish Book Trust site

2.00pm Ronda and David Armitage

Caught reading a book!

If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of the Lighthouse Keeper childrens’ stories you won’t be able to resist this workshop. The books are full of adventure and humour, with the most beautiful illustrations - not just in content, but in their rich and vibrant colours. Immerse yourself in them and imagine yourself at the sea's edge - if you are joining Mr Grinling, the lighthouse keeper, then hopefully you’ve brought a picnic, as he has a definite fondness for food, as the titles of the books reveal.

This workshop is aimed primarily at 4 - 7 year olds, but adults are very welcome too, you’ll be treated to a lighthouse keeper story and to seeing David create a picture before your very eyes.

Ronda Armitage is from New Zealand and David from Tasmania. They met on the ship that brought them across the globe to Britain and married here, before returning to New Zealand for a while. They’ve been back in Britain since 1974 and live in the country near East Hoathly in East Sussex.

3.30 pm Peter Aitchison
Black Friday - The Story of the Eyemouth Disaster of 1881

Peter Aitchison will be telling the story of Scotland's worst fishing disaster when 189 east coast fishermen - 129 of whom were from Eyemouth - were drowned in a single afternoon. The loss was of more than just men. Over 90 widows and 260 children were left in penury and the bustling and vibrant Berwickshire port, which was the Peterhead of the south, never truly recovered from the effects of the Disaster. The tragedy itself is stark enough. But in telling the story, Peter also explores how for decades before 1881 the fisherfolk of Eyemouth were at war with Church and State. Did the Kirk have a role in the events which led to Black Friday?
Peter Aitchison was brought up in Eyemouth, worked as a news journalist with the BBC for twenty years and is Depute Director of Media at the University of Glasgow. He has written three non fiction books -  Black Friday, The Lowland Clearances and The Noblest Work of God, all published by Birlinn Press.


7.30 pm Ceilidh at the Old Brewery

A chance to share some words with the writers, to listen to their work and to contribute some of your own if you’d like to. An evening of words, wine and song - and perhaps the occasional sea shanty -  spiritedly hosted by Janet Macinnes.

Sunday 9 September


11.00 James Moore, Andrew Dowsett, Russell Turner
Eilean Dubh

James and co-photographers and authors Andrew Dowsett and Russell Turner self-published a richly illustrated book all about the Black Isle, the landscape, its people and wildlife. As the Cromarty Post Office website says, ‘Magnificent new photographic book of the Black Isle by Andrew Dowsett, James Moore and Russell Turner, with chapters covering the villages, the land, the wildlife, the coast and much more. A beautiful souvenir or present for anyone interested in the area.’ Its success has far exceeded their expectations. In this workshop the authors will be talking about the rewards and pitfalls of self publishing, and how you might go about it if you want to have a go yourself.

2.00 pm Alison Morrison-Low
Lighthouses, Literature and Robert Louis Stevenson

The perfect end to a sea-themed literary weekend. Alison will be talking about her love of lighthouses and Northern Lights: The Age of Scottish Lighthouses the book that resulted from this passion  - and the National Museum of Scotland exhibition.

As a child, Alison was fascinated by the Shipping Hall and Lighthouse Gallery in the Royal Museum, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, little knowing that one day she would be responsible for the material in it.

Alison has been a curator with responsibility for the history of science collections at National Museums Scotland since 1980. She has produced collaborative works on the historic scientific instrument trade in Scotland and Ireland, and her doctoral thesis, Making Scientific Instruments in the Industrial Revolution was published by Ashgate in 2007, winning the Paul Bunge prize for 2008.

More recently, she has been involved in producing an exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the lighting of the Bell Rock Lighthouse in 2011, which provided the excuse to re-examine the important collections relating to sea-marking, some of which were donated by the Stevenson family of engineers.

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