Popular Scots literary festival returns to Perth this April

  • Published: March 16th 2023
Culture Perth & Kinross -

The best of Scots authors, poets, musicians, broadcasters, and TV personalities will descend on Perth this April as the much-loved Soutar Festival of Words returns.

The Festival, produced by Culture Perth and Kinross, runs over three days from 28-30 April 2023 and will feature an exciting array of events and performances for all ages and interests – from poetry and spoken word to author interviews, performances, talks, and workshops, all celebrating Scots language and contemporary Scots culture.

We are delighted to bring the Soutar Festival of Words back to Perth,” said Helen Smout, Chief Executive of Culture Perth and Kinross. “This year’s festival promises to be our most inspiring yet, with a fantastic line-up that caters to everyone, from our youngest book lovers to fans of poetry and performing arts. We look forward to welcoming fans of Scots language, literature, and culture to Perth at the end of April.”

World-class Authors and Poets

A host of critically-acclaimed and award-winning authors from across Scotland and the UK will make an appearance at the 2023 Soutar Festival of Words, including the celebrated broadcaster and Sunday Times-bestselling author Sally Magnusson as she discusses her latest work of historical fiction, Music in the Dark. Authors Sara Sheridan and Kirsten MacQuarrie will discuss their latest novels, The Fair Botanists and The Rowan Tree and why women’s voices and stories feature so strongly in their work.

Also appearing will be Walter Scott Prize-winning author James Robertson who will not only deliver this year’s Soutar Lecture on Friday, 28 April but will also treat us to a performance of The Gruffalo in Scots on Saturday, 29 April.

Scottish author Graeme Macrae Burnet, one of the UK’s leading contemporary novelists, will join us Friday, 28 April, as he discusses his Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, Case Study, named one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2022.

Another highlight of the Festival will be Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery unveiling this year’s original Soutar Poem. Previous Soutar poets Imogen Stirling and Ross Mackay will join her as they discuss Soutar, hope, and writing for the stage.

Other authors attending this year’s Festival include Scottish novelist Kirsty Logan in conversation about her latest book, exploring how “some of what they say about witches is true“. Best-selling author of Morvern Callar and The Sopranos, Alan Warner, will talk about his most recent book Nothing Left to Fear from Hell, a historical novel about Bonnie Prince Charlie. Plus, award-winning poet Jo Gilbert and the Scots Scriever, Shane Strachan, will discuss Doric with Dr Dawn Leslie.

The ever-popular Perthshire poet Jim Mackintosh will perform his latest anthology, ‘Banes o The Turas’ featuring a weave of song and tunes by Hamish MacGregor, pipe major Callum Douglas and singer Aileen Ogilvie, alongside the spoken word. Five Perthshire poets, including book’s editor Andy Jackson, will read extracts from Perthshire 101, a poetic tour around Scotland’s finest county inspired by the region’s geography, history, people, and cultural icons, in a fast-moving poetry show. From Broxden Roundabout to the Drumochter Pass, from The Murrays Pies to Castle Huntly Prison.

On Saturday, 29 April, members of GLOW LGBTQI Youth will interview Ely Percy, the award-winning author of Duck Feet, and explore the themes in their work, asking what it is like to be a queer writer in Scotland today.

Events for Children and Families

Over the weekend, many events will be aimed at the younger audience, including Ross McKay sharing some of his funniest, weirdest, and wildest pieces of children’s poetry. Cara Roberts will use inspiration from the great outdoors to captivate children with tales of discovery and marvellous adventures.

The Soutar Festival will also feature a range of interactive workshops across the weekend. Local author Linda Cracknell’s interactive and practical writing workshop is ideal for those starting out and wanting something to kickstart their writing adventures. Participants will be inspired to write creatively without being distracted by their inner critic. Traditional music duo Plaid Song will run a workshop exploring history through song and singing, using source material found in the AK Bell Library Local and Family History department as inspiration. Participants will be encouraged to discuss, respond, and engage with the poems and, of course, singing is a big part of the day, so come prepared to warm up, join in and learn some tunes! Rebecca Sharp will also run a poetry writing workshop exploring Soutar’s experience of writing about the world whilst being homebound.

Outdoor Events

The Festival will also feature outdoor events across Perth. On the South Inch, prepare to get messy with visual artist Jaz Grady, who will decorate a giant ‘BRAW’ word with all your favourite Scottish words and phrases. Jaz will be looking for keen artists of all ages to come along and help her make the word BRAW look even more BRAW!

Pop-up poet Imogen Stirling will be popping up all around Perth in her poetry booth. Pop into the booth free of charge, and Imogen will share a short poem just for you and your friends.

Live Music and Performance

Live music will feature strongly in this year’s Festival with toe-tapping tunes supplied by Perthshire’s finest duo, Plaid Song, and up-and-coming young apprentice storyteller Ailsa Dixon delivering a performance of captivating stories and live music for all ages. Glasgow-based singer and guitarist Alasdair Roberts will perform a selection of bittersweet folk songs from his new solo album Grief in the Kitchen and Mirth in the Hall, a collection of twelve traditional songs and ballads from Scotland and beyond, delivered in his distinctive style. The ever-popular Scots Opera will make a welcome return to the Festival. This year, they will introduce children and families to The Wee Magic Box, a magical, interactive mini-opera exploring the fairytale world of Mozart’s The Magic Flute with live opera and fun singalongs.

Selected events across the three days of the Festival will be live-streamed and available to view online, allowing those unable to attend in person to tune in and enjoy as the weekend unfolds in Perth.

The complete programme of more than 35 events, including writing workshops and interactive events, is available at www.culturepk.org.uk/soutar23

The Soutar Festival of Words will run from the 28th to the 30th of April, 2023.

The Festival has been made possible with support from Perth and Kinross Council, The Friends of William Soutar, and The Forteviot Charitable Trust.

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