Saturday July 29th

Bards for Breakfast:  Three of Galloway’s Best!
David Mark Williams

Prize winning poet David Mark Williams reads from his first collection The Odd Sock Exchange, and his second collection Papaya Fantasia featuring an all singing, all dancing papaya and other eccentricities! 

Clare Phillips

Originally from England, Clare Phillips has lived and worked in southwest Scotland for thirty-two years.  In 2019 she won the Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award, and in 2022 The Autumn Voices competition judged by Des Dillon. Clare’s recent writing has been impacted by threats to the environment and reflects her growing interest in Scotland’s island cultures after visits to the Outer Hebrides in 2021 and 2022. 

Alexandra Monlaur

Alexandra Monlaur is a retired civil servant, who has been published in a number of anthologies and appears regularly at Wigtown Book Festival. She will read some of her published work along with new pieces inspired by the Celtic Tree Alphabet and a childhood spent in the wilds of Northumberland.

9.30 – 10.30 Mill Cafe  £5.00 (including refreshments)

Hugh McMillan and friends :  Dead Good Scots

Hugh McMillan, an award-winning poet and one of Scotland’s best and most unique contemporary voices introduces ‘Dead Good Scots’, published by Roncadora Press in Dumfries. It’s an innovative and unique exhibition and anthology of poems celebrating lesser known Scottish heroes. The installation comprises a model church and graveyard designed by award-winning publisher Hugh Bryden. Each gravestone contains a memorial to a Scot, some brilliant, some quietly dynamic, some plain insane, who never quite made the history books. Guest readings by some of the excellent poets involved.  

Supported by The Scottish Book Trust

11.30 – 12.30  The River Room  £5.00

Em Strang:  Quinn – a debut novel

Award-winning Scottish poet Em Strang has spent a decade working with long-term prisoners in Scotland, trying to understand and come to terms with notions of justice and responsibility.  Quinn is her highly regarded first novel. It is narrated by a convicted murderer who gets a shot at redemption when the mother of his victim makes a gesture of what appears to be radical forgiveness. It’s a challenging read, not least because it focuses on male violence towards women – such a pressing issue of our times – and tries to treat Quinn as a whole person, rather than neatly labelling him. Sitting with that broader perspective is profoundly unsettling, but necessary: how else can we arrive at a place where restorative justice might be possible? Is it even desirable to forgive the unforgivable, and if so, what might that look like?

‘Strang is an exceptionally accomplished writer and I very much hope this is just the first book by her that I read’ Stuart Kelly The Scotsman.

‘Em Strang is a true voice, and Quinn is that rarity, an original work of fiction’ Paul Kingsnorth

Supported by the Scottish Book Trust

2.00 – 3.00  The Faed Gallery  £5.00

Don Paterson  : Toy Fights: A Boyhood
In conversation with novelist Karen Campbell

Don Paterson spent his boyhood on a council housing estate. When he wasn’t busy dreading his birthdays, dodging kids who wanted to kill him in a game of Toy Fights, working with his country-and-western singer dad, screwing up in the Boys’ Brigade, obsessing over God, origami, The Osmonds, stamps, sex or Scottish football cards, he was developing a sugar addiction, failing his exams, playing guitar, falling in love, dodging employment and descending into madness.

Toy Fights is a book about family, money and music but also about schizophrenia, hell, narcissists, debt and the working class, anger, swearing, drugs, books, football, love, the peculiar insanity of Dundee, religious mania, the sexual excesses of the Scottish club band scene and, more generally, the lengths we go to not to be bored.

You’ll be lucky if you find a more thought-provoking, hilarious, sardonic and scarily brilliant self-portrait this year. The Scotsman

Anyone wanting a quiet book should read elsewhere – it will make you laugh aloud. The Observer

4.30 – 5.30 The Faed Gallery  £8.00

Andrew O’Hagan in conversation with Tom Pow 

In a wide ranging conversation with Tom Pow,  Andrew will talk about his work, his most recent novel, ‘Mayflies’, and its brilliant  BBC TV adaptation, his  ‘ghosting’ experience, working on a proposed memoir with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and much more.  Also in the pipeline is Andrew’s huge social novel about the state of Britain, ‘Caledonian Road’, published next year, but already set to be a huge series made by those behind HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’.  

Ayrshire-bred Andrew has three times been nominated for the Booker Prize, has won the Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and the E.M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Apart from his prominence as an author, he is Editor-at-Large of the London Review of Books, a contributor to Esquire and the New Yorker. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at King’s College London.

It is an honour and a privilege to host Andrew O’Hagan at BIG LIT.

MAYFLIES is one of those novels to press into the hands of friends. Beautifully written –  wise, funny, poetic, alert to time, place and the ordinary human. I adored this book.” Carol Ann Duffy

7.30 – 8.30 The Faed Gallery £8.00

Festival Exhibtion
Ken Smyth Illustration

An exhibition of illustrations by Ken Smyth for Chrys Salt’s poem sequence on the Iraq war.  The illustrations were used for two short films by Ken based on two of the poems which were set to music by composer Kat Gillham in 2018.  The two films will be showing as part of the exhibition.

An alternative musical interpretation of the poem sequence forms part of this year’s programme on Thursday 27th with Chrys reading alongside composer and saxophonist Richard Ingham. 

Thursday 27 – Sunday 30  10am – 4pm
The Bakehouse Studio   Free