Castlemilk Writers’ Festival in Glasgow’s southside involves more than putting authors in the frontline. It is about encouraging people to read — and write. Kathleen Morgan discovers why two of its guest writers decided to pick up the
Jenny Diskl: ‘I write abouttroubled people.’
‘I always wanted to be a writer. always.’ Novelist Jenny Diski is explaining why she began scribbling down her thoughts and feelings as an adolescent. carving an imaginative life for herself. Like most authors. she swears by the golden rule that you write about what you know. She had a catalogue ofexpen'ences to plunder. Part of an impressive line-up at the third Castlemilk Writers‘ Festival. Diski admits she knows little of Glasgow other than the taxi ride from the airport to a hotel. A reading from her powerful. honest writing should be enough to bridge any gap. Although not
The third Castlemilk Writers Festival runs from Wednesday 27 to Saturday 30 September. Contact Festival co-ordinator lorna Ferguson on 0141 631 2267 for details.
I Jackie Kay, Jenny Diski and Evelyn Lau Wed 27. 7.30pm. Castlemilk Library. I00 Castlemilk Drive. 0141 634 2006. Free. Edinburgh-born. Glasgow-raised poet and playwright Kay joins London writer Diski and Chinese-Canadian author and former prostitute Lau to read from their work. See preview.
I Paul liurcan, Ciaran Carson and lesley Benzie Thurs 28. 8pm. Castlemilk Library. 100 Castlemilk Drive. 0141 634 2066. Free. Ireland’s unofﬁcial Poet Laureate. Durcan breaks his European and American tour to read from his work. He is joined by award-winning Belfast writer Carson and Aberdeen-born writer Benzie.
autobiographical. tnuch of it contains the essence of her highly disrupted childhood and a journey to adolescence that led to psychiatric treatment. Her latest book of short stories The Vanishing Pl‘fllt‘t’SS moves effortlessl y from fairytale towers to seedy apartments via a tube suicide. ‘I write about troubled people.‘ she says. ‘In some cases I’ve used my own experiences. There‘s nowhere else to go.‘
Brought tip in London's east end. Diski was abandoned by her father arid taken into care after her mother became increasingly eccentric and unable to look after her. Discovered to have an unusually high IQ. the Jewish girl was sent to a progressive boarding school. It was not to last — Diski was expelled at fourteen. Racing through a string of
jobs. she ﬁnally took an overdose and
ended up in a Brighton psychiatric hospital. It was only when the acclaimed author Doris Lessing offered her a home and some stability that Diski began writing.
It is a moving story. but Diski is completely matter-of—fact. even humorous. about it. She speaks about it simply because it has ﬁred her writing. 'You might say my background was tailor-made for an up-and-coming novelist.‘ she says. ‘lt must have been very difﬁcult to have had a quiet suburban life because where would you write from? I don't wish unhappiness oti anyone. but if you have had it. you should use it.‘
Closer to home. Stuart Hepburn‘s work will probably be more familiar. Responsible for penning television‘s 'litggar! and Hamish Macbeth he is leading a scriptwriting workshop at the Castlemilk Writer’s Festival. The former lab technician who muscled into a scriptwriting career while acting in an early episode of 'Iaggarl. stresses it is never too late to begin writing — he began at 32.
Hepbum groans at the label of successful scriptwriter. although that is just what he is. His next creation Mt‘Ctl/lllm. stam'ng John Hannah of Four Weddings And A Mineral as a Glasgow cop in London’s east end. is
now based in Castlemilk.
I Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Urban Poets Society Fri 29. 8pm. Castlemilk Youth Complex. 39 Ardencraig Road. 630 0000. Tickets £2 (50p). available in advance frotn the CCA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7864 and at the door on the night. The godfather of dub poetry. Jamaica-born Johnson heads a double bill of performance poetry delights. closely followed by the Urban Poets Society. hot from the streets of Brixton and fusing music and poetry. See preview.
I Ian Pattison and Philip Differ Fri 29.
I lam. The Fringe Gallery. Castlemilk Arcade. 631 2267. Free. 111 conversation. the team responsible for Rah C. Nexhiit — script editor Ian Pattison and senior producer for BBC Scotland‘s comedy unit Philip Differ. Pattison has also written pilots for two new series. Ailrleiico Partiek and Bad Boys. to be screened later this year
I Paul J. McAuley Sat 30. l.30pm. The Fringe Gallery. Castlemilk Arcade. 63|
soon to be piloted. "I‘here's no secret.‘ he insists. ‘The harder I try the more often it seems to come off.‘
The writer owes some of his success
to his ability to come tip with the goods : — on time. ‘lt's very easy to have lots of t
great ideas. bttt if you can't deliver to people who are under pressure themselves. you‘re as well doing something else.‘ he says.
His greatest influences are a legacy of taut. fast-moving western movies and the work of classic ﬁlmmakers like Martin Seorcese and John Ford. For Hepburn. the best scripts grab an audience's attention and don't let go n
CASTLEMILK WRITERS’ FESTIVAL
not even for tea breaks. ‘Iiilm and IV should ltave a universal trtralityf he says. "I’he things that make an audience cry and laugh in Bangkok should work in Bolton. That's what I'm trying to teach myself'. Would-be scriptwriters might be advised to take a leaf out of not only llepbtirn‘s book. bill that of a certain Mark .\lc.\lanus. who played 'lilt't'arl tiiitil his death last year. '.\lark iust walked in. planted his feet on the floor and that was it. like Jimmy ('agney.‘ says llepbut‘n. “lfyou'ye got a problem pal. what is it?" People knew exactly what they were getting.‘
RHYME AND REASON
Poetry is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. Not necessarily the staid, behind-the- lectern-type you might be used to, but verse dealing with everyday life, with the nuances of a younger generation.
The new breed of poets is urban- based, telling of its disillusionment with a government that doesn’t care, of its hopes, and fears, and the chaos of living in the late 90s where nothing is stable. ltt many cases it’s a black thing, a stream of consciousness and the advent of cross-media pollination: MTV’s Words In Your Face poetry slot and rap has done much to advance its popularity.
You can experience a double whammy of the best in alternative British poetry at the Castlemilk Writers’ Festival. Headlining is the much respected Linton Kwesi Johnson, founding father of British dub poetry. ilis skankin’ stanzas on top of heavy dub rhythms are seminal and influenced a generation of musicians including The Clash with whom he toured in the late 705.
Hot on his heels is the Urban Poets Society, a collective of black London poets who jam, perform and use space to imbue their words with action. The collective has been big in London for several years, winning the 1994 Poetry Slam. UPS member Roger Robinson puts at least some of poetry’s new- found popularity down to the
2267. Free. The popular British science ﬁctioti writer whose novel Pasquale '.v Angel has been shortlisted for this year‘s Arthur C. Clarke Award. reads frotn his work.
I Hank Wangford Sat 30. 7.30pm. The Birgidale Complex. l() Stravanan Street. ()3l I I61. Free. The cult country singer talks about his latest book [.osi (‘owliovs Fro/n Patagonia '12) The A/mano. a personal quest to trace the legacy of the cowboy.
I Narrative Structure In Script Writing: Taggart, A Case Study Wed 27. 3—5pm. Free. but places are limited. Call 0141 631 2267 to book. Taggar! and Hamish Mt'Bi'i/t scriptwriter Stuart Hepburn has just completed writing Mt'Cal/ton. to star John Hannah. He will explain his craft. referring to a three-part series of 'liiggari. See preview.
I Screenwriting Workshop Fri 29 Sept. 9am-5.30pm. Free. but places are litnited.
; Roger Robinson: renaissance man assimilation of rap into the mainstream. ‘lt’s no longer an underground movement,’ he says. ‘The audiences are growing.’
Referring to the close link between poetry and jazz — UPS use a bass player live on stage - Robinson says with a laugh: ‘We’re renaissance men, of course we like jazz. We all collect records, although we don’t like too much of the new stuff, preferring the 605 avant garde: Pharoah Saunders, Ornette Coleman, guys who were exploring new sound and space.’
With an Urban Poets Society anthology due out in print next year and plans for poetry on the Internet, prepare to be deluged by rhyme and reason. (Keith Moore)
Call ()I4l ()3] 2267 to book. Intensive scriptwriting workshop focusittg on vocabulary. structure and dramatic strategies for television atrtl ﬁlm. led by Paula Milne. whose work includes Coronation .S'Irt't'l and The l’oliiit'ian 's li’i/i'.
I Kickstart: Starting To Write Plays Sat 30 Sept. 9am—5.3()pm. I‘ree. but places are limited. (‘all (ll-ll ()3l 2207 to book. Playwright Tom McGrarh leads a workshop aimed at stimulating dialogue and speech writing. scene-setting. characterisation and story-making in drama.
I WOTdS Until 7 ()ct. Tire Fringe Gallery. Castlemilk Arcade. 014] 63] 2267. Artists have been asked to submit texts that have influenced their work — they are exhibited here. some printed on the wall. others free-standing. tnost underpinned by
94 The List 22 Sept-5 Oct I995