Glasgow’s week long Book Festival began on Friday and Mr D and I de-camped to the city for a literary adventure. Held at the Mitchell Library, Aye Write! is celebrating its 10th anniversary and when we arrived on Friday evening, laughter and excited chatter crowded the corridors and rippled up and down the queues forming outside various rooms.
Determined to pack as much into the weekend as possible, we’d studied the festival brochure ahead of time and agonised over which events to attend. As anyone who knows me will attest, I’m not so good on the making of choices and thanks to a glistering array of possibilities, agreeing on a final selection was particularly difficult. After much deliberation we settled on a programme of events that allowed no time for eating and barely enough time for toilet breaks: it was worth it.
Over the weekend we pledged to read dangerously, vowed never to get into a taxi driven by Juice Terry, and toasted 10 years of the festival with four authors, a poet laureate and a singer-songwriter.
There were brief encounters with authors in the green room (thanks to Mr D’s PhD and ‘access all areas’ pass), champagne chit-chat with a publisher and a discussion about Patty Smith and silver ankle boots with a member of the organising committee.
We reminisced about Jim Morrison, listened to tales of Moira’s dog, almost got bitten by a black widow spider, discovered a boy trapped in the margins of a book, and tried to erase from our memories the conjured image of Tony Blair in a crop top aping Mick Jagger in an attempt to be a rock star.
The incongruity of horrifying images risen from beautiful words caused discombobulation of the mind. Poems of drones and war cast dark shadows to chill bare flesh, warmed only by the enthusiasm of the poets for their craft.
And then there was George.
The words of George the Poet quickened my breath and enlivened my imagination. His were the words of intelligence, wit, social conscience and compassion. And truth. His were the words that pulled my shoulders back, sat me up straight and disciplined my attention. His were the words that convinced me that the fight for social justice will always be worth the effort. So we bought the book of his words and these are the words he wrote for us:
Truth doesn’t care who tells it … it shines regardless!
His were the words Mr D and I talked about back in our bargain hotel room where we dined on pakora and cheap red wine and feasted on the view of the Mitchell Library against the darkening Glasgow skyline.
The Aye Write! Book Festival runs until next Saturday 25th April (also Mr D’s birthday – cards optional) and there are lots of fantastic events still to come – all to be found on the festival website. See you there.
The events we saw were:
- Andy Miller: The Year of Reading Dangerously
- Irvine Welsh: A Decent Ride
- Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Lousie Welsh, Alan Bissett & Jim Carruth: There’s Only One Aye Write!
- Dylan Jones on Jim Morrison
- Alan Bissett: Greatest Theatrical Hits
- Mark Ellen: Rock Stars Stole My Life
- Harry Giles, Marion McCready and JL Williams: Vagabond Poets
- Introducing George the Poet: Search Party – A Collection of Poems
- Nathan Penlington: The Boy in the Book (hosted by Mr D)
Our next Aye Write! outing begins on Thursday through to Saturday and includes:
- Karen Campbell and Fiona Rintoul: Glasgow University MLitt – The First 20 Years
- Lebo Mashile & Niq Mhlongo: South African Writers
- Ian Buxton: Legendary Whisky Tasting (hosted by Mr D)
- Zoe Howe and Douglas Hart: The Jesus and Mary Chain
- UNESCO City of Music: Rock Sessions
- Ghada Karmi: Return – A Palestinian Memoir
- Ben Okri: The Age of Magic
- Tony Barrell, Lewis Gordon & Hector Bizerk: All About the Drums