It's August so it must be time for Edinburgh International Book Festival!
This year we went for four days and tried to pack in as much as possible (along with seeing the sights of Edinburgh and catching a variety of shows at the Fringe Festival)
Phil Jupitus was the "anchor" that brought them all together and he told us a little of performance poetry in the UK and how he got into it. I was intrigued that bands on tour used to have a supporting poet rather than, as now, a supporting band. But these poets were generally delivering protest poems - protest being the 'thing' to be into throughout the 60s and 70s. Phil Jupitus, who 'supported' the likes of The Style Council, gave us some of his poetry from then and also some of his more recent work.
Elvis McGonagall then followed and had the audience laughing along to some of his older poetry as well his more modern stuff. His style was extremely different and entertained in a different but just as compelling.
Hannah Silva's work was extremely different and frankly I was sceptical at first. Using a foot operated sound machine she recorded, played back and edited her own voice to create poetry - and there can be no other name for it - that really blew me away. It was poetry that can only be listened to, not read, and it left a mark on me like no other poetry ever has. It was fantastic and a completely new experience.
Last, and certainly not least!, was Hollie McNish. Her poetry, although more conventional, was fast, modern, highly topical and still very entertaining.
All these poets left me wondering.. If I had attempted to read their work would I have got as much from it?
Meanwhile Maryom headed to the other side of town to see author/illustrator Jackie Morris at The Golden Hare bookshop in the Grassmarket. This was a joint story-telling and painting session, with Jackie reading her own Song of the Golden Hare and children colouring in their versions of the book's illustrations. Lots of Jackie's books were there on display - even early copies of Something About a Bear (published in October '14 by Frances Lincoln) and Cat Walk (September '14 by Graffeg) both of which will be launched at Solva Woollen Mill in Pembrokeshire. Jackie also talked about her current project involving feathers which are being sent to her from all over the world - see here for how to join in.
Kirkland Ciccone whose book Conjuring The Infinite won Catalyst Book Award this year. Kirkland does quite a few school visits and is known for his spotted shirt - something that helped me find him amongst the throng of festival goers. Sitting in the bookshop cafe, drinking tea and enjoying a scone, he explained a little about his much awaited second book, The Endless Empress, and told me that the genre of young adult fiction fantasy is not one he is likely to desert in the near future and if Conjuring The Infinite is anything to go by then he certainly shouldn't. Good luck Kirkland!
Maryom had hoped to catch James Mayhew's Big Draw event on the Sunday - but it was just too popular with children and parents queuing to get in. She managed to meet up afterwards though for a very brief chat. James was at the Book Festival as Illustrator-in-residence to celebrate 25 years of his Katie books which introduce art to children by stepping through the picture frame.
Monday was time for another brief meeting - this time with Linda Strachan, author of several YA novels (Don't Judge Me, Spider, Dead Boy Talking) and the Hamish McHaggis series for younger readers. Unfortunately Linda's Bookfest events took place after we'd left but it was lovely to catch up and hear a little insider gossip about her up-coming projects.
On Monday evening Maryom made her way to the joint Michele Forbes/Donal Ryan event, which she'd been looking forward to since the holiday was booked. Michele Forbes was a bit of an unknown quantity but Donal Ryan's novels have made a huge impact on her. Both writers are from Ireland - Michele Forbes' debut novel, Ghost Moth, is set in Belfast, alternating between the 1960s and 1940s; Donal Ryan's two novels are set in a small country town around the time of the Celtic Tiger economic boom of the late '90s and the subsequent crash. The writers talked,of course, about their books and the inspirations behind them - it was interesting to discover that Donal Ryan's first published book The Spinning Heart had actually been the second to be written, which explains the plot spoiler within it for The Thing About December. Then there were questions from the audience followed by the all-important chance for a few private words with the authors while books were signed.
And in between all this there was also time for soaking up the sun in a deckchair or two...
.....catching sight of Nicholas Parsons, Chris Brookmyre and Tom Rob Smith signing books after their events, and spotting Phil Jupitus again, browsing in the bookshop.