Saturday was a very full day at the CoastWord Festival with events from 11 in the morning, not finishing till just after 11 at night! As you can see from the photos above though, we managed to stretch our legs during a break before the evening event (the rain had stopped!) and had a wander through Dunbar to the harbour.
The first event of the day saw Magi Gibson joined by four local poets Ruth Gilchrist, Jo Gibson, Pen Reid and Melissa Goodbourne. The themes of their poetry included the sea, food, illness, education and home. Some were deeply personal and moving such as Pen Reid’s poetry about her husband’s degenerative illness, some were nostalgic such as Jo Gibson’s Radiogram about her parents dancing to Jim Reeves songs and some very were funny such as Magi Gibson’s An Education.
Next was Chris Brookmyre who read the very intriguing opening chapter to his latest Jack Parlabane novel Want You Gone. He talked about some of the themes of the novel in particular cyber-crime and with one question to the audience – what would your porn-star name be? – showed us how easy it could be for hackers to get the necessary information to hack into our accounts. He spoke of how he felt he was a bit like a stage magician when writing his novels, particularly when it came to twists. He said that he had to have everything in place to misdirect his reader and that if done properly, twists should mean that if you read a book a second time, it can be almost like reading a different book as you realise the clues were there all along. He revealed that later this year we can look forward to a band called The Fun Loving Crime-Writers taking part in various literary festivals!
The third event of the day saw Janice Galloway and Marjorie Gill joined by CoastWord founder Hannah Lavery and Nadine Aisha. They were all sharing work on the theme of home and belonging and all had stories to tell about their own sense of belonging. Nadine Aisha’s unsettling poetry explored the kind of sexism and racism she experienced growing up. Marjorie Gill was poet in residence at Jupiter Artland, was born in New Orleans, spent some of her childhood in Iran and now lives in Edinburgh. She has the most warm and gentle voice and it was a pleasure to listen to her reading her poems. Hannah Lavery has recently been working on her debut show The Drift. I particularly enjoyed her poem Oak Table, written as though from the point of view of a kitchen table telling all the things which happen around and on it. Janice Galloway, although known for her poetry, said it would be far too hard to follow acts of such calibre so instead opted to read a short story from her collection Jellyfish.
Coastword Nights on Saturday saw us treated to music and poetry from a large number of performers only a few of whom are pictured above. There was music from Faith Eliott, Emilie Robson, Graham Cairns and Karen Dietz with Richard Klein. I particularly enjoyed the folk style music of the last two whose voices harmonised beautifully as they sang songs inspired by American short stories. Karen Dietz will be songwriter in residence for the next year at CoastWord. We were treated to poetry from Jenny Lindsay, whose humorous storytelling style was enthusiastically received by the audience, and Carey Douglas whose poem about her childhood experiences in North East England was excellent. Colin McGuire gave an energetic performance of his poems. It seems unfair to pick a highlight but I have to say that Scott Tyrell’s poetry was just brilliant. He won the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam in 2015. He was so funny and had the audience in stitches. His poem ‘Should Have Booked’ imagines the 1* review that Joseph might have left on TripAdvisor for the Inn at Bethlehem. You can watch him performing it here on YouTube – Should Have Booked
So Saturday was a very full, enjoyable day with a great variety of talent to enjoy. I am looking forward to the final day at CoastWord, in particular to hearing CoastWord Writer in Residence Catherine Simpson talking Confessions and True Stories with novelist Shelley Day. A conversation with crime writer Val McDermid also promises to be a highlight of the day. You can watch out for my report on the events of the last day of the 2017 CoastWord Festival tomorrow.