Dust off your hat and brush the mothballs off that writer’s jacket – we’re
delighted to announce the fourth Wee Gaitherin poetry festival will take place in Stonehaven on August 1, 2 &3 (Thursday-Saturday inclusive).
There’ll be a big broth of poets taking part, workshops, stalls, publishers’ forums, book launches, music and infinite banter and blether.
We'll soon be inviting poets who’d like to take part to contact us with expressions of interest, but please don’t contact us just yet – we appreciate that publishers, poets and poets’ collectives may be champing at the bit, but we’ll issue a more detailed shout-out soon; we’ll be poring over your submissions as of late-April/early-May. We’ve gone from hosting around forty+ poets in the first year to over seventy in 2023, and we’re keen to strike the right balance between hosting as many writers as is practicably possible and ensuring that everyone gets a good time-slot. But that does take a wee bit of planning.
In a departure from previous years, the 2024 festival will be concentrated around Number 44, in the town’s Market Square, as the main venue. It’s a bar, a hotel, the food there is great, the main hall is spacious and versatile, and the hosts very welcoming – so, what’s not to like? As if that’s not enough, the festival will culminate in a Saturday night ceilidh. Musicians and singers among you, take the stage; dancers – either lead or show up the rest of us.
In the build-up to the festival, we will once again be hosting a series of Wee Words readings in the town, school workshops and displays at Stonehaven Library. (See our Facebook and Twitter forums for updates.) The purpose of these activities is to encourage talent and widen the audience for poetry – in print and at live readings – in a friendly and entertaining environment, so please spread the word.
The festival – which began in 2021 on the weekend the pandemic lockdown ended – is now a popular fixture in the poetry calendar, drawing in poets from across Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales – and beyond – to read and perform their work on an equal footing (no matter who you may be) in English, Scots and Gaelic.
Since that uncertain start, as poets surfaced from lockdown blinking into the daylight, it has grown in scale and activities. For each of the last three years we’ve hosted a near legion of poets and kept them ‘fed and watered’ (more watered than fed) in one of Scotland’s bonniest coastal towns.
The Wee Gaitherin is now also a registered charity, run by five directors and backed up by a small army of volunteers who turn their talents to everything from fundraising to publicity (thank-you to them all). Our democratic and freewheeling motto ‘Turn up, tune in, take part’ holds as true as ever as we invite poets of every background and stage of their writing – from beginners to the renowned – to fetch themselves up to Stoney for the weekend. We especially encourage the participation of younger poets, poets on low incomes and from disadvantaged groups, and will be doing our best – as funding permits – to support them.
We’re immensely grateful to all our funders from previous years who have helped us to cover essential costs of staging the festival – and its associated activities – and to subsidise poets’ expenses. In doing so they’ve allowed us to ensure that the festival remains free to attend for all audiences, whilst poets are supported financially. They’re helping us make this wee Aberdeenshire town the poetry capital of Scotland . . . for three days in August, at least.