What a brilliant night! With the room packed, the mood high and the wine in full flow, Red Squirrel Press introduced four brand new publications. Over the course of the evening we heard from William Bonar’s Offering, Carolyn Patricia Richardson’s Scots’ Rock, Sheila Templeton’s Gaitherin‘ and Tim Turnbull’s Silence and Other Stories. The result was a brilliant mix of poetry and prose, with each writer’s work complementing the next.
Founded in 2006 by Sheila Wakefield, Red Squirrel Press is an independent publishing house based in the north of England. Small but highly productive, the company more than lives up to its namesake – many great Scottish writers have been published by Red Squirrel and each poetry collection is carefully typeset by poet (and typeface expert) Gerry Cambridge.
One of the key themes of the night was poetry written in Scots. Each poet seemed to emphasise the importance of writing for people in a language that they are familiar with. This kind of spoken word event is where the Scottish Writers’ Centre really comes into its own as our oral tradition is given new life. Some choice poetry in Scots included William Bonar’s reimagining of Hugh MacDiarmid on West Linga, a small uninhabited island that he claimed as home for three days but, as was later revealed, only sheltered the famous poet for a few hours at most. Carolyn Patricia Richardson’s collection included a lovely portrait of a family on Hogmanay night, ‘a’body bathed’ with ‘tartan-troosered bairns’ running about, while Sheila Templeton’s fantastic Gaitherin’ was full of references to thrawn old Scots and sups from the jeely pan.
To finish off the night, we crossed the border with Tim Turnbull as he read a series of extracts from his short stories set down south. Inspired by chance encounters with unusual people, Tim’s tales were driven by these colourful character studies. Like the Scots poets, his writing evoked a keen sense of time and place with snapshots of London life lingering behind each turn of phrase.
It was great to see such a good turnout and we look forward to welcoming Red Squirrel Press back on Wednesday – put it in your diaries folks!
To purchase any of the books mentioned above, visit Red Squirrel Press here.
Words by Chris Young.