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Posts tagged Scotland

Burns Night burning a poet into a nation’s memory
January 25, 2015 | 8:44 pm

Burns Night, held on January 25th every year to commemorate the memory of Robert Burns, has succeeded in identifying a single poet with a whole nation more than perhaps any other country on earth. How? Well, they began soon after the poet's death in 1796, informally among hs friends and acquaintances, but then on a more organized basis after the meeting of "nine gentlemen of Ayr," at the poet's birthplace in 1801, when a haggis formed part of the meal in his memory. The first established Burns Club, the Alloway Burns Club, formed as a result of this dinner, and the Greenock...

Edinburgh International Book Festival announces special spring event with Kazuo Ishiguro
January 20, 2015 | 6:25 pm

The Edinburgh International Book Festival, which hosts the Scottish capital's key literary event of the year every August, has further expanded its program of all-year outreach events with the announcement of a special spring event starring renowned Anglo-Japanese novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. The event, to be held at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum Theatre on Thursday March 5th, 2015, presented in association with Ishiguro's Faber & Faber and supported by the recent grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery, "will see the celebrated author discuss his highly anticipated stunning new work, The Buried Giant," his first new novel for ten years. "We are thrilled and proud to...

The origins of Auld Lang Syne – the world’s most popular poem
December 31, 2014 | 10:25 am

"Auld Lang Syne" is a song you'll hear the world over, from Tokyo to Tashkent. (And after many years in Asia, I can testify to that.) Chances are that a fair slice of the world's population, of multiple ethnicities, will be either singing it or hearing it at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. That arguably makes it the single poem with the widest dissemination in the world. Even South Korea's national anthem was sung to its tune, until a new one was composed. And I'm proud to remind everyone of its Scottish origins, courtesy of Robert Burns. As...

I.M. Rob Roy, a Scottish folk and literary hero
December 28, 2014 | 2:25 pm

On December 28th, 1734, Rob Roy MacGregor, the real-life original of Sir Walter Scott's eponymous hero, died peacefully in his bed at Inverlochlarig Beg, Balquhidder, after a lifetime of reaving and rebellion that won him folk hero status in his own lifetime, and also a royal pardon from King George I which just saved him from transportation out of Scotland. Rob Roy had the distinction of being a Jacobite from the word go, fighting in the 1689 Jacobite rising on behalf of the recently deposed James II Stuart and the "Fifteen" rising in 1715, plus its aftermath in the Battle of...

Scottish Poetry Library extends fundraising drive, engages crowdfunding
December 17, 2014 | 10:25 am

Scottish poetry libraryAs already noted in Teleread, the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) has launched a fundraising drive to provide the remaining tranche of funds needed to support renovation and expansion of its facilities, including the Space for Sound Campaign "to create a flexible, contemporary space that preserves the spirit and indeed much of the Library as it currently exists, while releasing its full potential as a place to bring people and poems together." And now the SPL has launched an appeal via Just Giving, the charity/NGO donation site, to attract part of the funding it still needs. "We need to raise the final £120,000...

Edinburgh International Book Festival gets lottery grant support for further outreach
December 15, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Edinburgh International Book FestivalThe Edinburgh International Book Festival has just announced a  £175,000 ($275,000) grant that will enable it to branch out from its normal remit of organizing the summer Festival events at Charlotte Square Gardens "to give greater numbers of people access to authors and live literature events across Scotland." The grant comes from the People's Postcode Lottery, which donates to a range of charitable causes from the proceeds of lotteries based on UK postal codes. Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, spoke of "a vibrant and wide-reaching new outreach and learning initiative which will focus on engaging adults, young people and...

Liz Lochhead and the sad spectacle of Makargate
December 11, 2014 | 12:03 pm

One of the more dramatic, and sorrier, literary hangovers from the Scottish Independence Referendum has been the so-called "Makargate" controversy, when Liz Lochhead, celebrated poet and reigning Scots Makar (the Caledonian poet laureate), joined the Scottish National Party. A pro-Unionist body of opinion promptly declared that this new allegiance disqualified her from being a national poet for Scotland, and that she should resign....

Scottish Poetry Library launches appeal to fund expansion
December 6, 2014 | 2:13 pm

The Scottish Poetry Library, nerve center of the poetry community in Scotland, has launched an appeal to fund expansion plans for its building, via online donations and other fundraising exercises. The expansion program has already received considerable funding support, but needs further contributions to reach its target. "The Space for Sound Campaign is a £450,000 [$703,785] refurbishment of the Scottish Poetry Library. Creative Scotland, The Binks Trust, Robert Gavron Charitable Trust and the Wolfson Foundation have given leadership contributions to our Space for Sound campaign but there remains £150,000 [$234,600] to raise in 2014. You are invited to help us meet this goal,"...

Scotland’s winter wonderland showcased in stunning freebie
November 24, 2014 | 6:25 pm

A to Z of Winter ScotlandYes, this is a shameless puff on behalf of my beloved homeland - but it's also a chance to pick up a beautiful and useful travel guide for zero cash, and to enjoy some superb state-of-the-art digital destination marketing. For VisitScotland, Scotland's national tourism organization, has just shared "The A to Z of Winter in Scotland," a beautifully produced 76-page PDF guide to the best options in winter visiting to the land of Burns, Bruce, bairns, brains, and beauty - liberally sprinkled with hyperlinks to follow up the destination tips online (albeit mostly to its own site). Burns Night, on January...

Saltire Society’s Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland ballot includes great Scottish women writers
November 21, 2014 | 6:25 pm

Scottish cultural and intellectual advocacy body the Saltire Society is approaching the culmination of a near year-long campaign to find the Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland, still open for formal nominations until St. Andrews Day, Sunday 30th November. The list has already attracted a slate of some of Scotland's - and the UK's - most outstanding women writers and cultural figures, including such obvious choices as Liz Lochhead and Naomi Mitchison, and perhaps less expected ones such as Ena Lamont Stewart, Scotland’s first major female playwright, and Janet Paisley, writer and coordinator of the first Scottish PEN Women Writers Committee. "Members of...

Jura distillery releasing 1984 malt in George Orwell commemoration
November 17, 2014 | 4:29 pm

Jura 1984The Jura distillery, long a key sponsor at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, has now found a perhaps slightly more dubious route to literary celebrity, deciding to issue a special limited edition 1984 malt whisky, to mark 30 years since the date of George Orwell's eponymous novel. The Jura 1984 Vintage was casked in 1984 and, according to the account in The Drinks Business, "only 1,984 individually numbered bottles of the limited edition single malt whisky, casked in 1984, will be made available worldwide," at £750 ($1,176) per bottle. In one respect at least, the Jura distillery's bid for recognition is completely authentic:...

Saltire Literary Awards honor Scotland’s best books of 2014
November 15, 2014 | 2:25 pm

The Saltire Society, leading independent promoter of Scottish learning and culture, has just announced the results of its 2014 Saltire Literary Awards, "widely regarded as Scotland’s most prestigious book awards," and the Scottish Book of the Year Award in various categories. The Award categories comprise the Scottish Literary Book of the Year, Scottish First Book of the Year, Scottish Poetry Book of the Year (in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library), Scottish History Book of the Year (in partnership with the Scottish Historical Review Trust), and Scottish Research Book of the Year (in partnership with the National Library of Scotland) - as well as the overall...