Ladies Who Launch: ‘Compass Points’

Thursday April 19th

Leonie Ewing, Jackie Galley, Vivien Jones, Gillian Mellor

Four writers - one a water scientist, one a biologist, one a chemist, one a generalist, all close observers - have been meeting once a month over the last year to walk, talk and write in the landscapes they love. Their individual voices speak through prose and poetry in this illustrated pamphlet that reflects the broad diversity of Dumfries and Galloway and the interaction between it and the people that live, work and play in it.

3.30pm – 4.30 pm  The Scone Kitchen. £4.95 includes tea and scone.

With support from Wigtown Festival Company

 

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BIG LIT Sing-in at the Masonic Arms

Thursday April 19th

The Masonic Session and its doughty band of die-hard regulars has been the backbone of the Gatehouse music scene for over a decade. Having spawned numerous bands, an unmissable annual festival and countless friendships, the session is once again delighted to launch Big Lit with the best lyrical offerings - some classic, some home-grown, all tailor made for joining in with voice, tambourine or hurdy-gurdy (if you have one). The best way imaginable to kick off 2018’s literary extravaganza.

9.00pm onwards. The Masonic Arms  A free event

Katy Ewing and Donald Adamson: Bards for Breakfast

Friday April 20th

Poets Katy Ewing and Donald Adamson offer a croissant combo of idiosyncratic insights, ironies and illuminations.

'(Donald’s) writing combines gravitas with impish humour and sensitivity with intelligence.'  – Martin Bates

‘Katy Ewing is a curator of the places and times when the past rears up and recedes again, leaving us with a single, fragile, moment.' - Dr David Borthwick

10.00 – 11.00    Franca Brunos Free event.   £3.00 for croissants and coffee

Due to unforeseen circumstances Elspeth Brown is now unable to read at BIG LIT, but we are delighted Katy Ewing is able to take her place at short notice. 

 

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Joanna Lilley: In the Middle of Nowhere.

Friday April 20th

What makes us leave our family and roots behind and move thousands of miles away to ‘the middle of nowhere’? Why is moving to the back of beyond judged by some as opting out and others as making a dream come true? What is it that lured Joanna from her home in Scotland to the wilds of the Yukon? By sharing observations through her poetry, Joanna explores the complicated relationship many of us have with the places we’ve lived in and have chosen to leave, and her own evolution into a Canadian immigrant.

11.30 – 12.30 The Mill on The Fleet  £5.00

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Alison Searle: Love, Religion and Politics in the Letters of Samuel Rutherford

Friday April 20th

Alison Searle, academic fellow at the University of Leeds, examines the heady mixture of divine eroticism, political activism and passionate pastoral care that distinguishes the letters of Scottish Covenanter and Anwoth minister, Samuel Rutherford. Sent to a tight-knit network of correspondents during the British Civil Wars, these letters played a key role in strengthening the cause of Scottish Presbyterianism in Britain and making God’s presence palpable in daily life.

1.30- 2.30  The Mill on the Fleet  £5.00

(includes tea and biscuits)

Following Alison Searle’s presentation there will be an optional walk to The Rutherford Monument, led by Alison Searle and David Steel. It  leaves  The Mill Cafe at 3.00pm, weather permitting.

FREE.  All welcome. Strong footwear advisable.

 

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Ajay Close. The Scottish suffragettes: ‘A Petrol Scented Spring’

Friday April 20th

Suffragette Arabella Scott set fire to a racecourse stand, Frances Gordon to a mansion. Fanny Parker planted a bomb at Rabbie Burns’ cottage. Maude Edwards slashed the King’s portrait. Jailed in 1914, they refused to eat or drink, and were force fed by prison doctor Hugh Ferguson Watson. Ajay Close, novelist, playwright and award-winning journalist, will discuss the extraordinary characters who inspired her novel, A Petrol Scented Spring. The event includes photographs of the suffragettes and their targets.

3.00 – 4.00 The Mill on the Fleet  £5.00

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Chik Duncan and Jane Overton: The Random Tandem

Friday April 20th

After a sell-out appearance at last year’s BIG LIT  The Random Tandem is BACK with Chik Duncan – last year’s Poyum Performer in Residence at the Braemar Creative Arts Festival – and Jane Overton who spent the year committing random acts of poetic strangeness in aid of good causes. In the spirit of being random in tandem they haven’t a scooby what they’re going to do yet. Can you bear the suspense?

4.30 – 5.30 The Scone Kitchen  £4.95

(includes tea and scones).

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Iestyn Edwards: My Tutu Went AWOL

Friday April 20th

Unable to do a straight book talk, for whatever reason, Iestyn is bringing a Vaudeville version of his  best-selling memoir My Tutu Went AWOL ( pub: Unbound)  to BIG LIT. Classical ballet, opera, tallish stories. We follow him in his tutu touring for Combined Services Entertainment across the warzones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Dressed down for drying his ballet tights on the anti-blast wall, for demanding his custard creams back from the President of Estonia to return to their rightful camels, hoiked offstage by Stacks, a fuming Royal Marine Commando, and dumped on the turret of the Naughty Tank.

‘Fascinating, moving, completely hilarious.’  Miranda Hart.  ‘Achingly funny!  Daily Mail.

7.30 – 9.00 The Mill on The Fleet  £10.00

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Hugh McMillan and Alan McClure: Bards for Breakfast

Saturday April 21st

Hugh McMillan has always been from Dumfries and Galloway, writes inside it, about it, beyond it. He has three new books pending, including a poetry collection from Luath called Heliopolis and a pamphlet (in collaboration with the Australian poet and academic Jane Frank) inspired by emigration from our region. He’s joined by Gatehouse based teacher, poet and songwriter Alan McClure whose work is informed by a fascination with nature, the concerns of fatherhood and his hopes and fears for the children he teaches and the country he lives in.

10.00 – 11.00  Franca Bruno’s Free event. £3.00

(includes coffee and croissant or tea and teacake)

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WagTongues Pop-up Bookshop

Saturday April 21st

WagTongues is Dumfries & Galloway’s only itinerant bookshop that pops up all over the Region to showcase books written by local authors. As well as the opportunity to browse and buy from a wonderful range of books – fiction, travel, memoir, poetry, young adult – you can meet and talk to writers and listen to readings from our ‘Human Books’ throughout the day. Come along and celebrate the wealth of Dumfries and Galloway’s writing and publishing talent. Entry is free and you will be entered into a free draw with the opportunity to win one of the books.

10.30 – 5.30 Mill on The Fleet. Free event

Chrissie Gittins: Writing poetry for children

Saturday April 21st

A writer’s workshop with Chrissie Gittins

Explore how writing poetry for children differs from writing poems for adults. How much research do we need to do, if any? What can we use as inspiration? Come prepared to be playful and to tell the stories which stay with you. We will write, re-write, and entertain each other with our new poems.

Chrissie has written five collections of poetry for children. She began by self publishing her first three collections, which all won awards, then was taken on by Bloomsbury who published her new and collected poems Stars in Jars. Otter-Barry Books published her latest collection Adder, Bluebell, Lobster which featured on BBC Countryfile. Chrissie is the judge for this year’s Caterpillar Poetry Prize for poems written for children.

10.00 – 12.00 The Drop-in Centre £15.00

15 places. Book with The BIG LIT Box Office

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Robin Yassin-Kassab: A Kind of Stupidity....

Saturday April 21st

BIG LIT: Change of programme:
Due to a family crisis Iyad Hayatleh has had to return to the Lebanon so can’t be with us. We are grateful to author Robin Yassin-Kassab for stepping into the breach at very short notice.

Peace charity Dove Tales, that uses art to oppose the arms trade and militarism, launches its first anthology A Kind of Stupidity featuring  readings from local writers. This will be  followed by a discussion between Robin Yassin-Kassab and award winning journalist Jean Rafferty about his non-fiction book Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War co-written with Leila al-Shami. It was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2017. With chapters focusing on ISIS and Islamism, regional geopolitics, the new grassroots revolutionary organisations, and the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, Burning Country is a vivid and groundbreaking look at a modern-day political and humanitarian nightmare. Questions from the floor should stimulate lively and no doubt controversial debate. 

11.30 – 12.30 The Mill on The Fleet  A free event

Peter Marinker: Robert W Service: From the gold fields to the battle fields - The war poetry of Robert Service.

Saturday April 21st

Robert Service is best known for his accessible money-spinning verse like The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Klondike Gold Rush. In 1912 he left The Yukon, married a French woman and then served as an ambulance driver for The American Red Cross during WW1. Less well known, but equally engaging are verses written ‘from the thick of it’ – tales of the ordinary soldier -  from ‘kilted jocks’ to the gallant French infantry. In the tradition of Burns, Service was above all a people’s poet, his eye for detail and narrative mastery enabling him to bridge the spheres of popular and literary imagination.

1.30 – 2.30 Mill on the Fleet  £ 5.00

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Susi Briggs and Ruthie Redden: Nip Nebs Daydream Believer Workshop

Saturday April 21st

A workshop for young people aged 5 and over

Discover what adventures lay within the treasure box. Explore the gardens of your imagination. Learn to weave words and create your own characters and illustrations – will they be villainous grannies or sleepy giants? Hungry unicorns or fractious trolls?  The possibilities are endless! Susi Briggs and Ruthie Redden, author and illustrator  of Nip Nebs, a new Scots language picture book for children (pub: Curly Tale Books Ltd)  will inspire you to create your very own picture book story in groups or pairs.  Imagination, creativity and use of the Scots language actively encouraged!

1pm – 3.30pm Drop In Centre Free event

Young children should be accompanied by adults.

25 places but book your child’s place at The BIG LIT Box Office.

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Stuart A Paterson: ‘Any poet in a storm...?’

Saturday April 21st

Stuart A. Paterson is one of the most lauded & kenspeckle poets & performers of his generation. Previously Writer in Residence for Dumfries & Galloway & The Scots Language Centre, he’s been a past recipient of an Eric Gregory Award & a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship. ‘Looking South’ was published by IDP in 2017. Stuart was BBC Scotland Poet in Residence 2017-18, broadcasting a series of highly acclaimed poems on subjects ranging from Remembrance Sunday to Pudsey Bear to Diwali. Unmissable.

3.00 – 4.00 The Mill on The Fleet £5.00

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Alan Bissett: (MORE) Moira Monologues.

Saturday April 21st

Winner: Edinburgh Festival Fringe First 2017.

She’s back! Falkirk’s hardest woman and ‘the most charismatic character to appear on a Scottish stage in a decade’ (The Scotsman) returns in Alan Bissett’s hilarious ‘one-woman show’.  Moira lights a fag and regales her BBF Babs with a new series of raucous anecdotes about Brexit, snobs on trains, her estranged sister, and the return of her ex, Billy.

“A near-perfect series of new monologues, both howlingly funny and unnervingly sharp and poetic.” - 5***** The Scotsman

4.30 – 5.30 Mill on the Fleet  £10.00

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Mill Session: Blowing in the Wind: BIG LIT Celebrates Bob Dylan

Saturday April 21st

Bob Dylan is the only songwriter in history to have been honoured with a Nobel Prize for Literature, but anyone with even a passing knowledge of his work can see why he merits it. From civil rights campaigner to psychedelic beat poet to enigmatic iconoclast, Dylan stands alone in popular culture.  Following last year’s sell-out tribute to the late Leonard Cohen, BIG LIT pays homage to a living legend through readings and performances of his inimitable lyrical brilliance.

7.30- 9.30    The Mill on The Fleet    £8.00

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BIG LIT Sunday morning Launch Pad: Southlight 21

Sunday April 22nd

Big Lit Launch Pad celebrates the launch of Southlight 21 - the region’s literature magazine with readings from editors, contributors, and open mike spots for poets to launch new work.

10.30 - 12.00   The Mill on the Fleet    Free

Soup and Song: The Ukaladies.

Sunday April 22nd

A musical interlude: Come and enjoy a hearty bowl of soup and a singalong with The Ukaladies, who always promise to entertain -  before continuing on your onward literary journey.

12.30- 1.30 Franca Bruno’s £4.95

(includes a hearty bowl of soup and selection of breads.)

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Susi Briggs, Ruthie Redden and Nip Nebs himself: Nip Nebs Trail:

Sunday April 22nd

Nip Nebs (pub: Curly Tale Books Ltd) the original Scots language picture book has come to life! Join us on our three dimensional interactive story trail.  Explore the enchanting world created by Nip Nebs illustrator Ruthie Redden. Help Ruthie find the pixies that are hiding on our trail.  Diddle daddle with storyteller and author Susi Briggs and Nip Nebs himself.  He invites you to help him strinkle his icy draps oan the speeder web an hing shockles aff the spicket! Mind an keep warm though or Nip Nebs will prinkle yer taes!

1.30 – 3.00   A free event

Meet Susi by the big mill wheel, Mill on The Fleet 1.30pm.

Children must be accompanied by adults.

The Sulwath Ensemble: Music from Behind the Lines

Sunday April 22nd

With Peter Hutchison, bassoon, and baritone Geoff Davidson,

The Sulwath Ensemble celebrates often neglected British composers of the early 20th century including some like George Butterworth, Ivor Gurney and Arthur Bliss who were either killed, traumatised , wounded or lost loved ones in WW1.  From Butterworth to Elgar, from Howells to Vaughan Williams, BIG LIT offers this rare opportunity to hear a selection of these WW1 composers, some better known and others whose fine work features all too rarely in concert programmes today.

2.00 – 3.15 Gatehouse Parish Church    £8.00

£12 for The Sulwath Ensemble and The Cairn Chorus DOUBLE BILL

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BIG LIT’S Cairn Chorus FINALE

Sunday April 22nd

BIG LIT welcomes back Cairn Chorus - a community choir based in Monaive whose talented MD Kate Howard has led the choir from strength to strength thanks to her fearless and innovative approach to the choir’s repertoire.

With turmoil and uncertainty across the world Cairn Chorus’ brings songs that celebrate this year’s positive anniversaries and the power of music to unite people through harmony, drawing various strands of this year’s BIG LIT programme together.

3.45 – 4.45  Gatehouse Parish Church    £8.00

£12 for The Sulwath Ensemble and The Cairn Chorus DOUBLE BILL

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