Donna Does it Again! The curator of this evening’s events is the ‘ubiquitous’ Donna Matthew, a Paisley poet who is forging a strong relationship with the Paisley Book Festival. Having started writing in 2020, Donna, an alumnus of the digital writer’s collective the Scribblers Union, founded Poets in Paisley in December 2021. As well as participation in last years festival, Donna is promoting two events in 2023.
Before welcoming the first of tonight’s two headline acts, Donna opens with a nostalgic poem about the No 10 bus.
Shaun Moore, the Tannahill Makar for Renfrewshire, takes to the stage wearing his Tannahill Tartan Troozerz. A late comer to the poetry scene (the result of “a midlife crisis that was less expensive than a motorbike”), the ‘Coonsil Makar’ delights the audience with poetic tales relating to Paisley, its history, its politics and its people. In a slight diversion, he performs a rare poem about ‘feelings’ before returning to life in the auld thread toon, its radicals, it’s mill folk – the sma’ folk. Shaun is the very embodiment of all that the Paisley Book Festival represents. His spoken word performances are clever, funny, witty and above all, bursting with the spirit of radical rebellion.
Next up is Lorna Callery-Sithole, ‘a Scottish, working-class poet, artist and educator’ who has been widely published in various anthologies and magazines and performs her work regularly at events across the country. Her debut poetry collection, Pigeon with Warburtons, was published by Speculative Books in 2019. Her second poetry collection, Colour Theory, exploring her biracial family’s experiences of everyday racism and microaggressions, was published by Dreich Publications in Oct 2022. As the joint headline act of the evening Lorna also covers a wide range of social issues, including slavery, slave owners, Queen Nanny of the Maroons, and women of ‘colour.’ One of her stand-out performances was the poem ‘Oysters in Gabon’.
Viv Gee is an award-winning stand-up comedian, a performance poet, actor and writer. She has performed her poetry and stand-up comedy from LA to Bangkok with poems appearing on the Glasgow underground and Silverburn Shopping Centre. Tonight, Viv performs her hilarious comedic material to great reception at our UWS Student Union venue. From dogs, to Donald Trump to growing old… who knew poetry could be so funny?
Michael Mullen is a poet, writer and spoken word artist from Rutherglen. Writing in both Scots and Standard English they explore themes of identity, language and class. Their collection Lay Down With Dogs jointly won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2022. Their work oscillates between the serious and the sublime. Some of my friends comment that tonight’s event is the best of the weekend’s three cabarets.
The last performer Rosalind Miller is a poet and writer from Renfrew, she has a prolific back catalogue which draws on her colourful and varied experiences. The pieces she performs are full of wit and warmth, they are caring and colourful and full of history and hope.
Donna Matthew brings the Festival to a close with one final poem, the last cry of which ends in a rebellious call to support he striking workers. A fitting end to an outstandingly successful Book Festival, where an astonishing array of writers and performers descended upon Paisley with the collective intention to ‘Remake and Rebel’.
by Joe Smith