Portrait of Linlithgow as a Literary Hub
I had a whale of a time at Linlithgow Book Festival this past weekend. The Saturday was particularly busy but hugely rewarding. I worked out that I must have done almost a 13-hour day, starting with the final prep for my poetry workshop through to leaving the Masonic Hall after the open mic at nearly 11 pm.
Much of my day involved encouraging new writers and new writing, from the workshop through to the Gutter event and the open mic that followed it. Even Liz Lochhead’s reading, which I chaired, touched on that, as she presented the prizes for the LBF Young Writers Competition.
There are some really talented school children in the Lithgae area. You can read the winning entries in the competition at the LBF YWC link above, but they represent only some of the able young writers round here. Another one, a 14-year-old winner of the RSPB WildVerse Competition and the Pushkin Prizes, came to the workshop.
The open mic was another demonstration of the developing and polished writing talent from the West Lothian and Falkirk areas. It was undoubtedly the best one yet. I was particularly struck with the strength of Hayley Shields’ poetry and performance. I hadn’t come across her before, but will certainly be on the look-out for her work in future.
The Night in The Lithgae Gutter was excellent too. It is utterly invidious to single anyone out, as all the other readers were superb, but I’ll mention the only reader I hadn’t heard before: Pippa Goldschmidt, who read some superb work, especially the piece about her grandfather. Her first novel is coming out from Freight Books next year. It will be a treat.
I headed home on Saturday tired but energised and hugely satisfied with what felt like a job I love done well. Can’t wait for next year’s fest!