A Festival of Words

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William Soutar was a Scottish poet, born in 1898. He served in the Navy in World War I and afterwards studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he encountered the work of the well known Scottish poet, journalist, essayist and political figure Hugh MacDiarmid. This led to a radical alteration in William's work, and he became a leading poet of the Scottish Literary Renaissance and is described as 'one of the greatest poets Scotland has produced'.

To celebrate not only this great poet, but also the beauty of the Scots language, Gaelic and contemporary Scottish culture, the inaugural Soutar Festival of Words was born and the line-up gets better and better each and every year!

The Soutar Festival of Words will host over twenty events.

The Soutar Festival of Words will host over twenty events, including author talks, the Perthshire poetry slam, children’s events, music and opportunities for local people to gain an insight into the world of creative writing.

Organised by the charitable trust, Culture Perth and Kinross, events will take place in a number of well-known venues across the city, from the AK Bell Library and St John’s Kirk to Perth Museum and Art Gallery.

There will also be the opportunity to explore the local area on literary walking tours including the Corbenic Poetry Path, a poetry walk in Buckie Braes and a chance to visit places mentioned in Walter Scott’s 1828 novel, The Fair Maid of Perth.

Amongst many others, best-selling authors Alex Gray, Bernard MacLaverty, Ajay Close and Douglas Skelton will be joining the stellar line-up this year over the weekend of 26th to 28th April.

Friday 26th April

On Friday 26th April the festival will open at Perth Museum and Art Gallery with crime writers Denzil Meyrick, Neil Broadfoot and Douglas Skelton in conversation about setting the scene in crime writing and beyond.

At the AK Bell Library on Friday night, Professor Kirsteen McCue will present the annual Soutar Lecture, looking at how Soutar's experience and theories of 'Dreams' played their part in his growing stature as a published poet.

Saturday 27th April

The festival continues on Saturday 27th April and a younger audience can enjoy the festival at the AK Bell Library on Saturday morning as staff present storytime and Bookbug Rhymetime sessions with a difference, presenting the sessions Gaelic and Scots.

Award-winning author Alex Gray will be hosting a creative writing workshop at the AK Bell Library for keen writers looking to take that next step.

At Perth Museum and Art Gallery, illustrator Kate Leiper will create and develop characters in a fun workshop for both children and adults.

In addition on Saturday morning, there is a chance to catch a screening of The Garden Beyond, produced by Douglas Eadie,a dramatised enactment of the life of William Soutar, originally made for the BBC Omnibus programme in the 1970s.


At Perth Museum and Art Gallery on Saturday afternoon, local author Ajay Close will lead a discussion of the unique, passionate and sometimes bittersweet bond between a mother and daughter.

Big time publishers Tippermuir Books, Red Squirrel Press and Big Dog Books will be taking part in a publisher panel to help and inspire budding authors.  

At the AK Bell Library,  author Susi Briggs will go on a diddle daddle journey to find stories, music and wee pixies as she explores the beauty that is the Scots language.

Saturday will be capped off with a visit from award-winning author Bernard MacLaverty at the Soutar Theatre in the AK Bell Library. Forty years on from his first book, Bernard will be reading from his most recent work and discussing his life as a writer.

Sunday 28th April

On Sunday the festival will celebrate emerging authors with a visit from three of Scotland’s newest and most exciting authors; Conner McAleese, Tracey Emerson and Liz MacWhirter, as they look to inspire anyone thinking about writing or publishing their first book.

On Sunday afternoon, Hotchpotch appear in Perth for the first time, with a chance for writers, readers and listeners to react creatively to current affairs at an open mic event.

The Festival draws to a close on Sunday evening with a special performance of Perth Chamber choir Chansons in St John’s Kirk. Chansons will be celebrating their 40th Anniversary on Sunday with a specially commissioned suite of songs to words by William Soutar from Edinburgh composer Tom Cunningham.

The choir’s celebratory concert “Voice and Verse” on Sunday evening will include the world première performance of this attractive work. Full details of this event can be found on the choir’s website.

As part of the Soutar festival, poet Jon Plunkett has a 6 week poet in residency working with the community to promote the festival and produce a commissioned piece that will be performed during the festival.


Full details of the festival can be found on the Culture Perth and Kinross website.

The Soutar Festival of Words will run from 26th - 28th April 2019.

The Soutar Festival of Words is kindly supported by The Friends of William Soutar, The Jimmie Cairncross Trust and The Forteviot Trust.

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