Saturday July 20th

Donald Adamson, Douglas Lipton, Derek Ross – A Beatin Hert: Poems and Photographs from Rheged:
Bards for Breakfast

Through their poetry, Donald, Douglas and Derek pick out atmospheric strands woven into the area in Dumfries & Galloway north of the Solway which formed part of the ancient kingdom of Rheged. Derek’s accompanying photographs combine with the words, to form a unique and evocative account of the region.
Donald Adamson is a poet and translator from Dumfries, writing in English and Scots. He currently lives in Tampere, Finland. His most recent collection, Bield, was published by Tapsalteerie.
Douglas Lipton was born and educated in Glasgow. He came to Dumfriesshire to live and work in 1977. In response to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, he collaborated with artist, Keith McIntyre, and composer, Karen Wimhurst, to develop Songs for the Falling Angel, which was performed at the Edinburgh International Festival, and in Dumfries and Glasgow.
Derek Ross is a poet and photographer whose work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, as well as TV and radio. He lives in Dumfries but came originally from Stranraer, so his Scots is highly influenced by the Galloway Irish of his native Galloway. 

10.00-11.00   The Mill Café   £5.00

Alan Spence – Mister Timeless Blyth

Longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, Alan’s biographical novel is based on the extraordinary life of Reginald Horace Blyth, an Englishman who lived in Japan from the 1920s to the 1960s.  After being imprisoned during World War One as a conscientious objector, Blyth moved to Japan and began a lifelong immersion in and love of the region’s culture, languages and literature. Zen Buddhism in particular, became a constant focus in his life’s patterns and writings until his death in 1964.

Alan Spence is a leading Scottish award-winning poet and playwright, novelist and short story writer. His books include Its Colours They Are Fine, The Pure Land and Glasgow Zen. His play, Sailmaker, is a set text in Scottish schools.  Alan is the Professor Emeritus in Creative Writing at The University of Aberdeen, (where he founded the WORD Festival), and from 2017 to 2021 was the Edinburgh Makar (Poet Laureate). In 2018 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun from the Government of Japan. With his wife he runs the Sri Chinmoy meditation centre in Edinburgh.

A remarkable novel and Blyth’s part in the reconstruction of Japan is fascinating…magnificent.   Alan Massie, The Scotsman.

12.00-1.00  The Mill on the Fleet, Faed Gallery   £10.00

Gerda Stevenson – AONGHAS MACNEACAIL (1942-2022) and BEYOND 

Aonghas was a major Scottish writer from Skye. He was also a leading journalist, broadcaster, script-writer, translator, librettist and songwriter.  Among Gaelic-speakers he was known as Aonghas Dubh – Black Angus. He was winner of the 1997 Stakis prize for Scottish Writer of the Year, and recipient in 2015 of the Saltire Society’s Fletcher of Saltoun Award for contribution to the Arts and Humanities. His New & Selected Poems, laughing at the clock / deanamh gaire ris a’ chloc, published by Polygon, 2012, was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award. 

Aonghas became famous as a Gaelic-language writer, though, in fact he composed work in all three native languages of Scotland. He was a founding member of the Scottish Poetry Library.  beyond is a posthumous collection of his English language poems, edited by poet Colin Bramwell with Aonghas’s wife, the writer Gerda Stevenson. Gerda will introduce the book and read from it with Aonghas’s long-time friend and fellow author, Alan Spence. 

A giant of Scotland’s poetry scene.  The Scotsman.

3.00-4.00   The Mill on the Fleet, Faed Gallery  £10.00

Margaret Elphinstone – Lost People

In a fractured dystopic future, amid the trauma and desolation, hope can still be discovered. The child Rue has lost identity, family and home to conflict but finds sanctuary in the garden of a mysterious community.  Adulthood requires a courageous journey through a landscape of despair yet ultimately – fortified by music, animal companionship and skills as an herbalist – Rue finds hope of regeneration from unexpected sources. Margaret’s new novel is timeless yet disturbingly relevant, and offers healing, peace and refuge to a world ravaged by war and desolation. 

Margaret Elphinstone is the author of eight novels as well as poetry and short stories. She is an Emeritus Professor of Strathclyde University.  Apart from academic posts in the USA she spent her working life in Scotland and once again lives in Galloway, where she was working as a gardener when her first novel was published in 1987. 

Elphinstone’s is a distinct voice in Scottish literature, a quieter voice than some perhaps, but in a time of crisis, those are often the ones worth paying most attention to. Bella Caledonia.

5.00-6.00  The Mill on the Fleet, Faed Gallery  £10.00

Mark Bridgenam – Trial by Jury

Would you send a man to the gallows? A unique audience participation event, guaranteeing fun, entertainment, and some interesting insights into how our judicial system operates. Based on a real-life murder case from one of Mark’s books, you, the audience, get to decide if the defendant is guilty or innocent.

Wiltshire born writer Mark followed in his father’s footsteps and became a published author in 2019. His stories have been dramatised on Canadian radio and featured in newspaper serial form.  A story from Mark’s collection of Yorkshire mysteries, The Dark Side of the Dales, recently featured on Channel 5’s documentary series Manhunt. His 2023 title Erased is perhaps the first hybrid paperback with its trademarked logo. Nominated for the John Byrne Award and the James Tait Black Award in 2022, his adventure biography The Nearly Man, is currently in development in the US for TV/film, in collaboration with leading Hollywood scriptwriter and producer Alan Roth. 

Best thing we’ve ever seen at a book festival!  Audience member.

8.00 – 9.00  The Mill on the Fleet, Faed Gallery  £10.00