Scotland Scrapbook

I really did have a good time in Scotland as these pictures sent to me by Belizean author and co-panelist Ivory Kelly attest:

Ivory and me - or if you're reading left to right, I guess that would be me and Ivory.

Ivory and me – or if you’re reading left to right, I guess that would be me and Ivory.

Getting all posey cozying up to this statue at the Mitchell Library.

Getting all posey cozying up to this statue at the Mitchell Library.

Of course, he had nothing on this living statue seen in the streets of Glasgow. Wonder what he does if he gets an itch.

Of course, he had nothing on this living statue seen in the streets of Glasgow. Wonder what he does if he gets an itch.

He wasn't the only diversion on the streets of the city. A riot of sound, bag pipes and all.

He wasn’t the only diversion on the streets of the city. A riot of sound, bag pipes and all.

And we found other ways to entertain ourselves. Can't go to the UK and not have a pub lime. That's me and Ivory with Glasgow-based Jamaican writer Kei Miller.

And we found other ways to entertain ourselves. Can’t go to the UK and not have a pub lime. That’s me and Ivory with Glasgow-based Jamaican writer Kei Miller.

...a relaxed moment with Emma, from the Commonwealth which brought Ivory and me up for the panel.

…a relaxed moment with Emma, from the Commonwealth which brought Ivory and me up for the panel. We’re in the lobby of the lovely Malmaison https://www.malmaison.com/locations/glasgow/

The thank God it's over and hey that didn't go half bad after panel smiles - from left Gemma Robinson, me, Ivory, and Scottish writer Martin McIntyre.

The thank God it’s over and hey that didn’t go half bad after panel smiles – from left Gemma Robinson, me, Ivory, and Scottish writer Martin McIntyre.

Thanks for sharing, Ivory.

Read my blog on my time at Aye Write! and after.

And pre event interviews with me and Ivory.

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The Morning After II

Get your mind out of the gutter…this post is called the Morning After because I wrote this (or the bulk of it anyway) the morning after my April 11th reading in Scotland at the Aye Write! Festival. Why am I only now posting it? Well, I’ve been sick like sick like a dog sick since my return from Scotland. I don’t blame Scotland or anything…but seriously why is it so cold?

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The event itself is a bit of a blur. Thank God for this record that it happened and I spoke and said things.

From left Gemma Robinson, me, Ivory Kelly, and Martin McIntyre. Gemma is a professor and was our facilitator, Ivory is a writer from Belize and Martin's a writer from Scotland.

From left Gemma Robinson, me, Ivory Kelly, and Martin McIntyre. Gemma is a professor and was our facilitator, Ivory is a writer from Belize and Martin’s a writer from Scotland.

What stands out for some reason is me nearly coughing up a lung during Belizean writer Ivory Kelly’s reading; thankfully she didn’t punch me in the face for potentially messing up her reading (if it’s any consolation, Ivory, I’m still coughing). I remember too in the after drinks portion of the event that I received some complimentary feedback and had a lovely chat with a gentleman about the links between Scotland and the Caribbean. Our small band which gelled really well then went to a pub to unwind the rest of the evening. The following morning I did an audio recording for the Commonwealth website – a reading and interview – before hitting the road with Ivory to explore the town and then later to take in some of the festival. Everyone was great really – the folks from the Commonwealth and from the British Council, as well as the festival folks; Gemma and Martin – the other members of our panel; Jamaican writer Kei Miller who is every bit as engaging as he is on the page and social media – but I’m glad that I got to meet him in person and as we would say in Antigua taste his hand after he invited Ivory and me over for dinner (I still can’t stop talking about his ackee lasagna and those cocktails). Kei came to our panel and his was one of two other panels we were able to attend before the Aye Write festival wrapped. It was a whirlwind of a time.

I had a couple of extra days on my own (albeit that one of those I was benched by the flu and rain) and I was able to take the train about an hour out from Glasgow to Balloch at the foot of Loch Lomond where I was able to walk around for a bit along the lakeside, up the hillside…  before kicking back with fish and chips and “a pint” at Palombo’s where, per the signs, a point of pride is that the fish is all locally caught and the potatoes locally grown. I was still sick as hell that day but it’s still one of my favourite days of the trip because I was effectively at the fault line between the low lands and highlands (you know, the Scottish Highlands from whence comes mythical fictional character Duncan McLeod of the Clan McLeod or so I told myself…don’t judge me) and because I don’t feel I’ve been somewhere until I’ve explored for a bit…and I don’t mean the inside of clothing stores…though I explored a few of those too.

And speaking of explorations, I have to say, sitting in that diner in Loch Lomond, I felt a wave of gratitude at how fortunate I’ve been to be some of the places I’ve been whether on my own steam, as a journalist, in some other work capacity, or as a writer. I can’t help thinking that whatever else my life proves to be, it hasn’t been stationary.

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Here are some links re the Glasgow panel (with thanks to the organizers of the Aye Write! Festival, the British Council, the Commonwealth Foundation, Gemma Robinson who chaired our panel, and co-panelists Ivory Kelly and Martin McIntyre):

Pre coverage – http://repeatingislands.com/2014/04/10/commonwealth-voices-an-interview-with-antiguan-writer-joanne-c-hillhouse/

Coverage during: http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/commonwealth-writers-conversation-tongues/

Post coverage – http://birdtreebellandfish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/aye-write-glasgows-book-festival.html#comment-form

 

Images in this post courtesy Ivory Kelly.

The Adventure Begins

It could be hormones but I felt sort of emotional bumping into this interview posted to the British Council Website. I wasn’t aware it had been posted. And it makes everything all too real. That my writing life is taking certain unexpected turns…and yet it’s what I’ve worked for all these years so I’m doing my best to embrace it with open arms, to just fall in to the experience…grateful that in spite of all the challenges, I get to do this, to be a writer, and to go to the places real and imagined that it takes me. Never mind that today, as I prepare to fly off to Scotland, I’ve so far busied my self with household tasks, working out, and working (primarily using the time in limbo to declutter)… the rhythm of doing is keeping me from overthinking. Through the jitters, I’m looking forward to it, to being in Scotland (me, gyal from Ottos, Antigua) and to hopefully representing myself and my people well on what is a very esteemed panel with Belize’s Ivory Kelly and Scotland’s Martin MacIntyre – note: do click on the links…the interviews make for interesting reading…I’m particularly struck by this commonality between Scottish writing as described by MacIntyre and writing from the Caribbean:

“Subjects such as family ties and allegiance; belonging/non-belonging to a small community; rurality vs urban existence and values; the legacy of a brutal history -‘The Highland Clearances’ etc on the contemporary psyche and one’s relationship to land and the fate of the language itself were perennial themes. Of late writers have been moving away from these topics and embracing the concerns of the modern ‘mainstream’ both in Scotland and abroad.”

It’ll be interesting to discuss these intersections in our panel, Friday 11th April, during our panel ‘The Untold Story: By Our Own Tongues’ at the Aye Write! Festival.

As for these nerves and this persistent bug, let’s hope they behave themselves…no youtube videos of me wet with cold sweat and coughing up a lung.