The following is a great report on the Wigtown Book Festival from EW member, Morag Law.
In 1998, Wigtown was officially designated as Scotland’s National Book Town and over the last 12 years has been transformed from a run-down provincial town into a book-lover’s paradise. It now boasts over 20 book-related businesses, providing a feast of both new and second-hand books for the avid reader to enjoy.
To complement its thriving book-centred culture, Wigtown has staged an annual book festival every autumn since 1999, which has grown to a fortnight-long event, attracting a line-up of participating authors to rival that of the Edinburgh Book Festival. This year’s Wigtown Book Festival included appearances by Iain M.Banks, John Byrne , Barbara Dickson, Janice Galloway, Sally Magnusson, Ian Rankin and Val McDiarmid – to name but a few.
Like any other self-respecting festival, it also has a lively and varied Fringe programme which this year included a Là Gàidhlig/Gaelic Day – helping to reflect another facet of local heritage and history. As part of this day, I was invited to talk about my forthcoming bi-lingual book “Dìleab Cholbhasach/A Colonsay Legacy”, which is due to be published in 2011. Despite the lengthy journey, we arrived in Wigtown early enough to capture some of the festival atmosphere. Brian Taylor’s Big Debate programme for BBC Radio Scotland was being broadcast live from the Town Hall as we drove into town and as we explored the grassy area in the town centre where the main festival marquees were pitched, Jackie Kay was in full flow, giving a poetry reading to a rapt audience.
In the afternoon, in a small church hall, I found that reading extracts from my book and answering questions was both satisfying and uplifting. By no means all of the audience were Gaelic speakers and this gave me a sense of the scope of potential interest in my work.
Erskine Writers may be particularly interested to know that the Wigtown Book Festival runs an annual poetry competition, details of which can be found on the official website.