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‘Limmy meets Irvine Welsh’.
So says the blurb on the cover of Glasgow writer Chris McQueer’s debut collection of short stories.
Whilst Limmy is at least a side-splitting, surreal Glaswegian, the comparison to the one-time Edinburgh resident Irvine Welsh is a wee bit lame to say the least.
Sure, McQueer writes from a working class perspective and employs demotic Scots and choice language, but then so have many Scottish authors such as Robert Chalmers, Alan Bisset and Jim Kelman.
And considering Welsh’s recent appalling ‘conclusion’ to the Trainspotting saga, no Scottish writer worth their salt would surely relish such a comparison.
But I’ll hang with the Limmy reference as McQueer’s book is indeed very, very amusing.
Released in 2017 by the new independent publisher 404 Ink (who won eight awards last year including the #1 slot of The List’s ‘Hot Hundred’) this collection marks the transition from McQueer’s literary endeavours on the spoken word circuit (where he started out at events such as Interrobang?!) into the printed word.
I have never had the privilege of seeing McQueer perform (at least not yet, though I do intend to) but I can well imagine how some of these tales would have had their genesis as pieces to be read aloud, in particular the shorter ones such as ‘Pish The Bed’.
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The Liberty Tree – The Stirring Story of Thomas Muir And Scotland’s First Fight For Democracy is by Murray Armstrong
In 2010, the Scottish Parliament was presented with a petition calling for a sculpture to the Scottish political activist, democrat and agitator Thomas Muir to be erected in the vicinity of Holyrood. In the petition, Muir was described as the “founding father of modern Scottish Democracy”.
Murray Armstrong was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire. He was a journalist who spent the final twenty-one years of his career at the Guardian which he joined in 1987 as a features sub-editor.
He was Associate Editor at the time of his early retirement in 2008 which he took with the express intention of writing about Thomas Muir having nurtured an interest in the man and his times for many years.
'The Liberty Tree' is a historical novel about the life and struggles of the Scottish Radical Thomas Muir (25 August 1765 – 26 January 1799).
At the same time the author recreates events using the actual recorded words of the participants (eg. the famous exchanges between Braxfield and Gerrald during the latter's trial) and as such 'The Liberty Tree' also stands as a vivid, well-researched historical account of the life of Thomas Muir.
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Poetry Scattered Like Seed
Look out for issues of The Edinburgh Inch from publisher Richard Hanson of the Poems For All Project!
Since 2001, Richard has published not just poetry, but in this fashion, and generally in small stapled booklets, more than 1,000 poems have been published. Love poems. Beat poems. Bukowski wanna-be poems. Prose poems. Haiku. Concrete. Nature poems. Manifestos (little ones). Songs. Art. Graphic novels. Short stories. It has always been a pleasant surprise to discover just what can fit under such tiny covers.
Based in California, Poems-For-All has also taken root in Scotland. Richard has been scattering little books of poetry for the last several years during the St. Andrews International Poetry Festival (StAnza) and at other events and locations throughout the country.
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At a time when Print on Demand has prompted a plethorisation in poetry publishing, it's for the positive that Aberdeenshire poetry press Tapsalteerie have continued to make a virtue of the finished article - the book.
Handmade, often handbound, and always delivered crisp, their poetry collections from Calum Rodger, Ann MacKinnon, Stewart Sanderson and Tom McGrath have been neat, new and second to none.
Modest and yet jam-packed, the same is to be said of Postcards From Sulpicia, which are translations of a poet Sulpicia who is said to have lived in the rein of Augustus.
The discovery of Sulpicia will be as much of a revelation to most as it was the translator, Tristram Fane Saunders, who says that these translations were 'born of anger' - an anger at after having had ten years of Latin education and never having heard her name once.