Scottish writers eye the grand prize

Whatever your view of literary prizes, you would have to concede that the latest one to tempt writers into competing with one another is the most democratic around. And topical. The Canongate Prize For New Writing looks to all writers, established or otherwise, to address the theme of Scotland Into The New Era. Entries should be previously unpublished works of prose between 2000-5000 words long and the brief couldn‘t be any broader.

‘That to me is a crucial thing,’ states Canongate Publisher Jamie Byng. ’There is no vehicle or place for someone to write a short essay, or travel piece or political essay or satirical sketch, no place for general prose prizes tend to be obsessed with fiction and at the moment, Scotland is dominated by the novelist.’

The idea originated within Waterstone's in Edinburgh and last November Byng received a call enlisting his support. Publisher and retailer then set out to find a major broadsheet to come on board and help spread the word. Scotland on Sunday was immediately discounted due to its involvement in the Macallan Short Story prize, leaving The Herald and its new Sunday sister as the obvious vehicles. And not only are the organisers looking for the new Irvine Welsh, you may actually be competing against him.

'We just hope that we are going to unearth some interesting writing, by published or unpublished writers,’ continues Byng. 'I like the idea of an established novelist writing a piece of non-fiction and the setting of a theme gives some sort of purpose for the writer.’

And its certain to be one of the most thoroughly

Facing stiff competition: Irvine Welsh

judged prizes in literature. All the entries will be read across the Waterstone's chain with each piece being scrutinised by at least four readers. Once the twenty winners are chosen they will make it into a Canongate anthology which will be available in the first week of the new Millennium.

The democratic nature of the prize extends to the cash award - £20,000 will be split equally between the winners. Tempted yet? If so, submit your piece to The Canongate Prize, Canongate Books Ltd, 14 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TB or send your piece on-Iine to a designated site at the closing date is Fri 16 Jul 1999 with the winners announced in October. For a full list of the rules, regulations and restrictions, pop into your local Waterstone's or call 0131 556 3922. (Brian Donaldson)

Grassmarket Project builds bridges to youth

Story tellers: The Grassmarket Project

Already proud possessors of an International reputation and six Edinburgh Fringe First awards, theatre company The Grassmarket Project has teamed up with the Bridges One Door Initiative to create a play about

young people Iivmg in supported accommodation Our Story (at the Netherbow, see Theatre Listings), is directed by the GMP's Lynne Killin, who devised it With members of her weekly drama class at the Bridges Initiative.

'The Bridges Initiative is a place where youths at risk can go,’ explains Killin. ’A lot of them have had to leave the family unit for various reasons: mental, sexual and physical abuse. The Initiative takes them in, they do various classes and there are counsellors and housing officers to offer adVice.’

Our Story is the first time that the GMP has worked solely With non-professionals and stems from the real experiences of the people taking Killin's drama course. She deCided to create the play after becoming fascmated by the way in which young people, helped off the street, are thrust into shared accommodation with a group of strangers.

’It is sometimes said that the GMP's style is anti-actor,’ says Jeremy Weller who founded the GMP in 1989 'That is not the case Our style is to use raw experience and turn that into art: to say

that, yes, it can be art and that art is part i

of everyone's experience '

workshop process with her drama group. She gave the gr0up situations that might OCCur in supported accommodation and asked them to improwse The results

were taped, transcnbed and a coherent

structure worked out.

The whole protect of Our Story allows its participants to be treated as adults. The actors are paid and given responsibility for taking an idea and seeing it through to its conclusion. And,

if the early rehearsals are anything to go by, it should be just as successful as ;

preVious 6MP productions (Thom Dibdin)

' of the programme Judith edits. Killin deiiised the play using the : -


The Scottish Inquisition

Questions you don’t expect. This issue: Judith Mackay, Editor; The Lesley Riddoch Show, BBC Radio Scotland. (Mon-Fri noon ’tiI 2pm). First media related job?

Researcher at Radio Scotland.

Career highlight?

Diving naked into the mid-winter Baltic Sea for the BBC World Service. It was pitch black and there were an alarming number of lumps of ice floating around. Definitely the most incoherent and expressive radio broadcast I’ve ever made.

The award for a Lifetime Contribution to Scottish Culture goes to?

The inventor of the vacuum flask. Should have been a Scot even if he or she wasn't.

Name a work of art you cannot live without . . .


. . . and a law you're proud to have broken?

Glasgow's archaic licensing laws. An after hours lock-in is a wonderful thing.

You're about to be exiled - where and how would you spend your last night?

Let’s get real. I'd still be packing at 3.30am.

Glasgow: City of Architecture 8: Design: but which Scottish building would you like destroyed?

Retail Parks. All of ’em.

What motion would you make as an MSP?

This House calls for unlimited funding to advance research into the abolition of the midge. And to hell with the Scottish eco-system.

Top Scot of the new Millennium? The person who figures out how to Wipe out the blighters.

What should be in the Millennium dome?


How do you see Scotland’s future? Through the arch window.

(Compiled by Rob Fraser)

Picture below is Lesley Riddoch, host

am May i999 THEU8T19