|Image: JA Cosgrove|
The Edinburgh City of Literature Story Shop
I’m not one to cast unfounded accusations or remarks—I’m the kind of guy who likes to gather evidence when building a case first—but yesterday I raised an eyebrow at something that concerned a suspicion I kept quiet about last year.
The Story Shop programme is run by the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust and is aimed at giving new writers a chance to be seen and heard at the Edinburgh Book Festival. A bunch of writers are selected from applications to read a short story or couple of flash fiction pieces, to an audience at the world’s biggest and best festival of literature.
Last year the organiser selected 14 female writers to fill the 17 available slots (view the 2010 list here). I went to several of the readings and the writers were well deserving—no complaints there. However, this year the number is 15 female authors out of the 17 available slots (view the 2011 list here).
Hence my raised eyebrow.
These are, of course, merely statistics and they are all that I offer. It may be that there were no male applications good enough. And while I am also aware there are a lot of excellent female writers in Edinburgh and around the world, many of whom I have worked with and some remain good friends, it strikes me that for a programme being run for new writers of both sexes there appears, at first sight, to be an unfavourable imbalance against male writers.
I’m not saying I am a better author than any of the people that were give a slot this year or last—congratulations to all of them and I look forward to hearing as many of them read as I can manage—but Edinburgh does have some rather excellent new writers that are male, yet it seems we are unable to successfully tap into this programme.
I like to think I’m not a half bad writer and I would dearly have loved to been a part of the Story Shop, hence why I applied these last two years. I’m at the stage of my career where I’ve had short stories published and longer fiction picked up by independent publishers, and through my chapbook poetry, I’ve managed to glean a fairly healthy readership and name for myself. So I find myself feeling slightly frustrated to view these figures and wonder how much of a chance I really had.
So my point is this: over two years, were the Story Shop organisers really only able to find 5 male writers worthy of doing a reading out of the 34 slots available?
My new newsletter is out if you fancy a wee read over a coffee break or lunch. It’s called The Patter, comes out once a quarter, and this month’s is available to read now where you can also sign up for email delivery at: http://ymlp.com/zOFh48
I nipped out to Corstorphine yesterday for a couple of things while it was still sunny. First of all I checked into PC World to see what iMac Trackpads are like and whether they are worth going for as opposed to their Magic Mouse. They seem to be quite cool but I’m not sure what to click once you’ve pointed.
If that last paragraph doesn’t make sense just ignore it and start here instead.
I also had to get a new bulb for my tropical aquarium because my normal supplier is struggling to get hold of them. Pets at Home didn’t have any either and with my wee fishes now in the dark for over a week, I’m starting to worry for them. I’ll have to go online.
After a quicker than normal coffee for a Sunday due to bus restrictions and diversions, and a flash read of the newspaper in the nearby Costa, I headed home. The bus took a diversion off Princes Street and around Charlotte Square, which meant I got to see the construction work first hand for next week’s opening of the Edinburgh Book Festival. It’s very exciting. There are some pictures over at my EdBookFest Flickr page.
My Edinburgh chapbook got the same treatment as POOLSIDE POETRY 2 did the other day: a full read through and first edit as it was transferred from page to screen. I removed some poems that were added to pad the manuscript out, but now I have enough they aren’t required. I’ll use them in other ideas I have bubbling.
While I was working on it, I had to go through my notebook page by page because the poems are scattered throughout. I came to realise I have quite a lot of poems about, or things I have seen from and in, coffee shops. In fact, there’s more than enough for a coffee shop-related chapbook of its own.
To cut a long story short, I now have five different chapbooks in different stages of production: Poolside Poetry 2, London, Edinburgh, this new coffee shop themed one, and don’t forget the new release of SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE that will be coming out with illustrations.
Speaking of which, I received photographs of all the final artwork for the illustrations for the new Silly Poems book. Kamila has done a marvellous job and I cannot wait to get to work laying out the book. It’s going to look fantastic.
And with that, I leave you.