I wrote my first poem in 24 years at CoastWord, in Claire Askew’s ‘Introduction to Poetry’ workshop and I think it is a pretty good start. I almost didn’t make it along, I signed up to the workshop on a bit of a whim, but my childcare fell through when my sister was stranded in St Louis, and the doubts about my poetry writing talents sown by my second year English teacher were still enough that I was quite prepared to miss out. Until the lovely Lynn, my fellow writing mum and one of two possible future inlaws (if you believe my 5 year old daughter) stepped in and added another layer of madness to her already hectic day.
CoastWord, Dunbar's festival of words, is delighted to announce Catherine Simpson as Writer in Residence for 2016/17 and Kirsty Law as songwriter in residence for the 2016 CoastWord festival which takes place between 27th and 29th May in Dunbar, East Lothian. The festival also marks the end of Rachel McCrum’s residency.
Catherine Simpson is a novelist and short story writer based near Edinburgh.
Her debut novel ‘Truestory’ was published by Sandstone Press in September 2015.
In 2013 she received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for the opening chapters of Truestory. Her work has been published in various anthologies and magazines, published on-line and broadcast on BBC Radio. She has published articles in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Scotsman.
‘Catherine Simpson's debut novel is moving but never mawkish, and ultimately hopeful,providing a sympathetic portrait of a family struggling with autism in straitened times... laugh-out-loud funny, providing some memorable insights.’ -Sunday Mirror
‘A very fine first novel.’ -The Herald's Books of 2015
Catherine says: I am hugely excited to be the new Writer in Residence at Coastword Festival. Coastword is a vibrant gathering of lovers of words and music – prose writers, poets and singer songwriters – who come together with passionate audiences in Dunbar every May to create an unforgettable festival weekend. It feels wonderful to be a part of it.
During my residency in Dunbar I will be on the hunt for stories but where will I find them? We create stories from the tiniest glimpse or the briefest snippet which can be found anywhere - in archives, graveyards, overheard conversations, ‘For Sale’ signs, ‘Wanted’ posters or maybe even under the pebbles on the beach – who knows. That’s the joy and excitement of this residency; the fact that I have the opportunity to immerse myself in Dunbar throughout the year and follow the creative muse wherever it takes me. It’s a rare opportunity and I would like to thank Hannah Lavery and CoastWord Festival for offering it.
Kirsty Law was born in the Borders and grew up learning traditional songs, mainly in the Scots dialect. She now combines this with her strong interests in songwriting and poetry, inspired by the ideas and forms she finds within the tradition. She has now launched into a career of performing and writing, fast becoming noticed as a talent to watch. Kirsty has been a collaborator on various arts projects, working with other musicians, visual artists and poets.
A rich Scots voice... deceptively simple, beautiful composition.' fROOTS Magazine
Kirsty says: As a songwriter and maker, having the opportunity to be a writer in residence at a literary festival is quite special. Storytelling is at the heart of my work and pieces from many of my favourite poets and writers are a constant influence on my own composition, sometimes working their way directly into my performance.
Working from Dunbar will give me the chance to explore in ways I previously haven't managed. For a while now, I have become increasingly intrigued by the life of the Firth of Forth - its natural environment, its history, its stories and nooks and crannies. This residency will give me the ideal chance to discover how people's relationship with it has changed over time and how it is now. To be given the time and space to just simply make, is a luxury that is often so hard to provide for yourself - so, thank-you CoastWord!
Rachel McCrum, originally from Donaghadee, Co Down, Northern Ireland, has lived in New Zealand, Belfast and is now based in Edinburgh. She studied English literature and Language at Jesus College, Oxford. Her pamphlet, The Glassblower Dances, was published by Stewed Rhubarb Press in July 2012, and won the 2013 Callum Macdonald Award. Her second pamphlet Do Not Alight Here was published by Stewed Rhubarb in 2015. Alongside poet Jenny Lindsay, she runs the Edinburgh spoken word and music cabaret Rally and Broad. She was BBC Scotland's Poet in Residence in 2015.
Rachel ends her residency as CoastWord's 2016 Writer in Residence with an appearance at one of the festival's showcase events Words to the Beat along with the likes of Withered Hand, Liz Lochhead and Michael Pedersen. She is also leading a workshop, Shoring Sounds, and, in the Inspired by Dunbar event, will vividly reflect on her impressions of Dunbar gained through her residency.
The sense that this is the perfect way to say something is never far off as you read her poems. Sally Evans, Poetry Scotland Reviews.
Rachel says: 'To be asked to be Writer in Residence for Coastword 2016 was a surprise, a delight and a joy. I've loved coming out to Dunbar since my first visits in 2014, reminding as it does of my own small seaside hometown. Working with the writing community in Dunbar - all hail the Writing Mums - nudged my work onto a completely different course. I thought I would probably write about community, about family, about the sea. Instead the beautifully, blessedly open brief - write whatever your response to Dunbar is - has ended up about voices and wide open spaces, women and dulcet tones, feminism and claiming space, singing out to the impossible coastline. It's been a gift.
The other glorious thing about Coastword is the team of volunteers who make it happen, and the enthusiasm and support given by the loyal local community. I love that it's bringing such brilliant art and music out to Dunbar, out of the big cities, and incorporating performances, workshops and all the rest. It's a high watermark of what small local festivals should be. Bravo to Hannah and the crew, and hurrah for Coastword!'
CoastWord, now in its third year, is run by an enthusiastic group of volunteers. We work hard to create a friendly and exciting festival to inspire and support our community in Dunbar and our many visitors in their enjoyment of stories, poetry and song.