First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set to appear at Paisley Book Festival

Today, Paisley Book Festival announces First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as guest host of ‘What Maks a Makar’. The event on Saturday 26th February presents an unique opportunity for audiences to hear the First Minister in conversation with Scots Makar Kathleen Jamie as she discusses her career to date and shares some insights from her first six months in the role of Makar. Also involved in the discussion will be Robyn Marsack, former Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, who has had significant involvement in the development and appointment of the role.

The Scots Maker is a Scottish Government initiative established in 2004 and designed  to celebrate the importance of poetry in Scotland’s culture and history. Following in the footsteps of Edwin Morgan, Liz Lochhead and Jackie Kay, Kathleen Jamie was announced as the new Makar in summer 2021.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “There is no better time than the Year of Stories to celebrate the fantastic literary scene we have in Scotland. The Paisley Book Festival is a great opportunity to highlight the work of some of the fantastic writers who live here in Scotland and it provides an excellent opportunity to uncover some new and exciting authors.

“I am a firm believer in the power of reading, and the many benefits it can bring. Poetry especially plays a key part in Scotland’s culture and history and the role of the Makar is an extremely important one.

“I look forward to speaking with Makar Kathleen Jamie to discuss the part she plays in promoting poetry, as well as her own writing process.”

Jess Orr, Associate Programmer for the Paisley Book Festival said:

“We were absolutely delighted to hear that the First Minister wanted to take part in this year’s Paisley Book Festival, as a leader whose passion and enthusiasm for the transformative power of books and stories in our lives has become well known. This important conversation between three of Scotland’s most inspirational advocates for the written word will be an absolute treat and we can’t wait to welcome them all to Paisley.”

Unique to this season’s programme, Mara Menzies and Harry Josephine Giles were appointed as guest curators to oversee strands of the programme. Giles leads on Minding Language, a series of events about poetry in these islands that unsettles the languages we use involving writers such as Shetland poet Roseanne Watt and Ted Hughes Award winner Raymond Antrobus while Menzies’ The Power of Storytelling explores the joy and the power of storytelling in our lives, and the drive to constantly find new ways to tell our stories and pass them on to future generations.

Programme highlights include master of Scottish storytelling James Robertson bringing his latest novel News of the Dead, a ghost story set in a Scottish glen.

Glasgow-based novelist Louise Welsh brings the long awaited sequel to The Cutting Room after 20 years, The Second Cut.

Denise Mina retells one of the most famous stories from Scottish history in her new book Rizzio, the tale of Private Secretary David Rizzio, who was murdered in Mary Queen of Scots’ private chambers.

J. Cooke chats about The Lighthouse Witches in an event chaired by host of the Witches of Scotland podcast, Zoe Venditozzi.

Booker-prize shortlisted author (His Bloody Project), Graeme Macrae Burnet brings his new novel Case Study.

Malika’s Poetry Kitchen bring poets Jacob Sam La Rose and Dorothea Smartt to present their new collection in Too Young, Too Loud, Too Different in an event chaired by editor Maisie Lawrence.

Stories of Resistance features two of South America’s top writers Diamela Eltit and Julián Fuks, and is chaired by their English translator Daniel Hahn. Both artists are published by Edinburgh-based Charco Press.

The Paisley Book Festival also partners with Chamber Music Scotland to showcase a brand new project – Songs from the Last Page – which will include a songwriting workshop and a new concert of songs inspired by the last lines of books.

Oot and Aboot in Paisley is a partnership event with Lapidus Scotland that takes inspiration from the words found in Paisley to make new creative work.

Publishing Scotland curates an event with authors Anne Pia and Mick Kitson alongside their editors to discuss the vital relationship between author and editor.

Family events include a drop-in Tiny Listening Lounge in Paisley Central Library, a book launch for Ross Mackay’s new picture book and a puppet show in Gaelic to celebrate the launch of Cora – Gaisgeach nan Gràineag with Theatre Gu Leòr. There will also be a Bookie Boogie Brunch with songs and stories for all ages.

The workshop programme includes writing inspired by Indian classical dance, pop culture, folklore, flash fiction and the hidden histories of Renfrewshire women with the Glasgow Women’s Library.

The theme this year ‘Stories Mak Us’ encourages discussions on a range of topics, from storytelling and Scots/Gaelic events, to thinking about how fiction has helped us through the pandemic. More broadly it looks at how narratives shape us in all sorts of ways – personal and political.

The Paisley Book Festival is a successful fresh, new and dynamic festival, which has reader development as its core vision. Its aim is to encourage reading, storytelling and writing while provoking an interesting exchange of thoughts and opinions, and stimulating open and honest debate.

It is a festival with creativity and innovation at the heart of its programming, seeking to showcase some of the best and most diverse voices with books being published today in Scotland and in the wider UK context.

The Paisley Book Festival is supported by Future Paisley, the wide-ranging programme of events, activity and investment using Paisley’s unique and internationally-significant cultural stories to transform its future. It is funded by Renfrewshire Council and delivered by OneRen. OneRen is the local charitable trust in Renfrewshire providing culture, leisure and sporting opportunities to help people enjoy active and healthy lives.

Bookshop.org will be the official online bookselling partner for the Festival for the second year running. Bookshop.org is an online shop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. The festival will also be supported by a pop-up bookshop provided by the Edinburgh Bookshop. Titles from leading authors across the festival will be available to buy at UWS Student Union over the two weekends of the festival.