Figures of Speech: New Event Series Takes You on Explorative Journey of Scottish Words and Culture for Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022

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Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature and the Scottish Storytelling Centre have joined forces to create a new series of events in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 that will launch on Fri 20 May at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Figures of Speech is a fresh and exciting cross-artform series that will bring together writers and artists to take us on a road trip through Scottish literature. Covering six universal themes (music, friendship, future, love, place, big ideas), each event explores literary blockbusters, hidden gems and modern classics.

Expert guides will take us on a journey through Scotland’s iconic books and stories, navigating the dazzling array of new voices, and presenting newly commissioned work by artists responding to each theme. This will be a journey across the curious contrasts and contradictions that define Scottish literature.

The events will also be supported by eight newly commissioned pieces of work from contemporary artists inspired by the themes. These will offer fresh expression, creative interpretation, and a reimagining of some of Scotland’s well-known and well-loved stories, as well as shining a light on some of the lesser known but equally loved contributions to Scotland’s literary canon.

The series will feature singers, poets, filmmakers, storytellers, authors, musicians, visual artists and more; a well-rounded and supportive platform for new and emerging talent as well as championing those already established in the literary scene.

The first event will be held on Fri 20 May with broadcaster Nicola Meighan in discussion with author Arusa Qureshi on all things music in Scottish literature. Next up on Fri 24 June, poet Michael Pedersen will talk friendship with Val McDermid and on Fri 22 Jul, writer and poet Russell Jones speaks future horizons and forward thinking with writer T.L. Huchu.

The series continues on Fri 23 Sep with Gaelic poet Peter Mackay getting amorous with his words in discussion with romance writer Jenny Colgan, whilst visual artist and writer, Amanda Thomson, will drop a pin in the literary map with a discussion on place and locality with poet and film maker Roseanne Watt on Fri 21 Oct.

The season concludes on St. Andrew’s Day with some big ideas and pertinent questions in relation to Scotland and our world at large. Professor David Farrier will host an evening of discussion with climate activist and author Jessica Gaitán Johannesson on Wed 30 November.

All the events will be recorded and made available online a week later, and both the live and recorded events will be supported by BSL interpretation. Each of the six events will be supported by a pop-up bookshop from Lighthouse Books. Their expert booksellers will be on hand to supply the must-read books to match the event.

Daniel Abercrombie, Programme & Events Manager at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, says:
‘Figures of Speech will bring audiences and performers together to debate and discuss the famous and not so famous words and stories across these themes in Scottish literature. This project is all about variety, partnerships, and a celebration of words, so we hope and imagine people will have their own thoughts and opinions on these themes, which is all part of the fun in this Year of Stories! I’m looking forward to finding new stories to explore and seeing the emerging creative responses to the themes, taking the story forward.’
Frank Ross, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, says:
‘Figures of Speech is a wonderful collaboration between Edinburgh City of Literature and the Scottish Storytelling Centre for Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. It really exemplifies the partnership working that takes place in Edinburgh as a UNESCO City of Literature. The six events in the programme bring a totally fresh approach to looking at Scotland’s writing and stories and it’s great to see such diversity of artists, writers and voices.’

Ali Bowden, Director, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, says:

‘We’re delighted to be launching the Figures of Speech series and to be making all these events available to watch free on demand. Edinburgh is the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature and we’re excited and proud to be putting Scotland’s incredible artists on a global stage and using our international networks to help audiences around the world discover more about Scotland’s amazing books and stories.’

Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 will spotlight, celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Figures of Speech is supported by EventScotland as part of this celebration.

Scottish Government Culture Minister Neil Gray, says:
“We’re delighted to support this joint initiative from Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature and the Scottish Storytelling Centre through EventScotland’s Year of Stories Open Fund.
“This inspiring new multi-artform series of events will make a wonderful contribution to Scotland Year of Stories as it takes some of our best loved tales and explores them anew as part of wider more contemporary themes.”
Each themed event will be supported by newly commissioned pieces of work from contemporary artists such as Katie Ailes, Kim Carnie and Jeda Pearl Lewis amongst others.
Author and Figures of Speech contributor Val McDermid, says:
‘Figures of Speech is a fantastic way of taking a fresh look at Scotland’s stories, and I’m looking forward to exploring friendships found both on and off the page: the lovely letters between Barrie and Stevenson; Holmes & Watson; my own 1990s correspondence with Ian Rankin when he was in France and I was in Manchester; my determination that Kate Brannigan should not be a friendless PI stalking the mean streets of Manchester, but rather should have a nexus of female friends… I’m excited to talk Scotland’s iconic friendships past and present with Michael Pederson and look to the future of Scottish literature.’

Tickets and further information can be found at https://cityofliterature.com/figures-of-speech/ and www.scottishstorytellingcentre.com | https://bit.ly/FOSYoS22
And you can follow the story online with #FoS22.

The Figures of Speech programme was made possible by financial support from EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022, City of Edinburgh Council and The Stevenston Charitable Trust, and the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and Scottish Storytelling Centre gratefully acknowledge this support.

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