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Double Exposure

Well-known poet, writer and performer Brian Johnstone discusses his dramatic memoir ‘Double Exposure’, a touching tale of family secrets, long-lost relatives and childhood in the post-war years, with some poems thrown into the mix, in a special event for Port Mor Lunch Club.

Sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust.

12:30pm at Port Mor.
More details to follow.


Multitalented sailor-storyteller-poet Ian Stephen offers a combined storytelling and poetry session as he navigates some of the wind-driven tales and lyrical anecdotes from his recent book ‘Waypoints’ about Scotland’s west coast, the first in a proposed trilogy linking seascapes and stories. ‘Waypoints’, now out in paperback, is beautifully illustrated by artist Christine Morrison, and there’ll also be a chance to look at some of her prints.

Sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust. The event will be partly filmed by the Scottish Book Trust.

2pm at Jura Care Centre, Craighouse.
Free admission; all are welcome.

Tales of the Sea

Join us in the lovely fishing village of Portnahaven for a lively, informal evening of maritime storytelling with sailor-storyteller-poet Ian Stephen and award-winning author Janis Mackay. Ian and Janis combine traditional tales handed down over kitchen tables for generations with some stories learned on travels further afield. Why not bring your own seafaring stories to share?

Sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust. The event will be partly filmed by the Scottish Book Trust.

A free shuttle bus to Portnahaven will depart from the Baptist Church in Bowmore (Jamieson Street) at 7:10pm, returning from An-Tigh Seinnse at 9:30pm. Pick-up/return points on the route include Bridgend Shop, Debbie’s Minimarket in Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte General Store.

8pm at An-Tigh Seinnse, Queens St, Portnahaven.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

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Songs from the Òrain Ìleach

A celebration of the beautiful Gaelic songs of the Òrain Ìleach, Islay’s recently published Gaelic community songbook, with local author Lynn MacDonald and special guests.

2pm at Gortanvogie Care Home.
This event is not open to the public.

The Dark Stuff: Stories from the Peatlands

Hebridean poet, teacher and writer of islands, Donald S. Murray, talks about his latest book ‘The Dark Stuff’, taking us from his childhood on the Isle of Lewis across the peat bogs and moorlands of Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and even to Australia in an exploration of a precious landscape and its representation in literature, art and folktales.

Sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust and Laphroaig.

4pm at Laphroaig Hall.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

Flight of Poets

Come along for a poetry tasting with short readings from Ian Stephen, Ciara MacLaverty, Chrys Salt, Donald S. Murray and Brian Johnstone. Covering themes of seascapes and landscapes, of islands, of love, loss, humour and much more, you’re sure to find a flavour you’ll like! Introduced by peat aficionado Donald S. Murray.

Sponsored by Laphroaig.

5:30pm at Laphroaig Hall.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

The Valley at the Centre of the World

A night of songs and storytelling with acclaimed author-songwriter Malachy Tallack, who has just published his debut novel ‘The Valley at the Centre of the World’. Set in modern-day Shetland, his first foray into fiction is a soulful look at life in an isolated island community enriched by its use of Shetland dialect for much of the dialogue. Malachy will read from his book and share some of his folk-rock tunes as he ruminates on what is passed down, and what is lost between the cracks.

Introduced by Kayleigh Bohan from the Scottish Book Trust (event sponsor).

A free shuttle bus to Port Charlotte will depart from the Baptist Church in Bowmore (Jamieson Street) at 7:15pm, returning from outside Port Charlotte Hotel at 9:30pm. Pick-up/return points on the route include Bridgend Shop and Debbie’s Minimarket in Bruichladdich

8pm at Port Charlotte Hotel conservatory.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

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10:45am Welcome message from Islay Book Festival patron, Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen, reviewing how the festival has developed since its formation in 2006 and looking at some of this year’s highlights.

Examining the Forensics

Join Rhona MacLeod creator Lin Anderson as she talks about her new book ‘Sins of the Dead’ in a fascinating discussion with real-life soil forensics expert Professor Lorna Dawson, who inspired a key character in the latest addition to Anderson’s hit series of crime thrillers. In ‘Sins of the Dead’, Dr Rhona MacLeod is faced with a forensically aware killer. Aided by soil scientist Dr Jen Mackie, they together trace the very ground the killer walks upon.

11am at the Gaelic College, Bowmore.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

Sly Cooking

Catriona Black discusses how she came to write her very accessible illustrated pocketbook ‘Sly Cooking’, about 42 of her favourite weird and wonderful Gaelic words, and why she chose the words she did. ‘Sly Cooking’ revives some of the Gaelic words collected by 19th century priest, poet and folklorist Father Allan, and Catriona will focus on what inspired her about Father Allan’s dictionary and what it reveals about the communities of South Uist and Eriskay, where it was compiled. Catriona will also reflect on what she's learned from speaking to locals about these words (and what remains a mystery), and about the personal challenges of being an Edinburgh-born Gaelic speaker. Catriona's work as an artist will also feature, and the linoprint illustrations from Catriona’s book are on display at the Gaelic College throughout September as part of its Argyll tour.

This session is in English with some Gaelic content. Introduced by Donald S. Murray.

Sponsored by the Gaelic Books Council.

1:30pm at the Gaelic College, Bowmore.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

Songs from the Òrain Ìleach

Join Lynn MacDonald, editor of the Òrain Ìleach, for a celebration in song and image of Islay’s Gaelic community songbook. Alongside some special guests, Lynn will look at how the material was collected for the book and examine some of the themes of the songs, from love and landscape through to war. The book contains songs old and new, some published for the first time, along with biographies of the bards. Something for everyone with an interest in Islay’s rich cultural life!

Còmhradh agus comharrachadh le deilbh agus ceòl leabhar òrain Ghàidhlig coimhearsnachd Ìle. A coimhead ris an obair a bha an lùib cruinneachadh na h-òrain agus an fhiosrachadh, bheiridh sinn sùil air buaidh na h-àrainneachd gu buaidh cogadh air na h-òrain anns an leabhar. Tha measgachadh de òrain sean agus ùr rim leughadh anns an leabhar, cuid aca air fhoillseachadh airson a' chiad uair, le fiosrachadh air na bàrd. Leabhar airson duine sam bith aig a bheil ùidh ann an cultar beartach Ìle.

Lynn MacDonald worked with Kenneth Thomson to produce this collection of Islay songs with musical notation and English translations. Original photographs are by local artist Raymond Lafferty.

This event will be in English with Gaelic content. Please note: this session includes a short film. Sponsored by the Gaelic Books Council.

3pm at the Gaelic College, Bowmore.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

Bernard MacLaverty: Back to Bowmore

Leading author, screenwriter and former Islay High School English teacher Bernard MacLaverty is in conversation with his daughter, the poet Ciara MacLaverty. Bernard will be reading from his latest literary masterpiece ‘Midwinter Break’ and will take a look back at where his serious writing started, in a kit bungalow in Bowmore.

Bernard MacLaverty’s appearance is sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust.

5pm at the Round Church, Bowmore.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

WW100 Reflections: The Fields of War

In the first of our reflective sessions looking at 100 years since the end of World War I, leading performance poets Chrys Salt and Brian Johnstone offer a moving mixed media production featuring original photographs and memoir extracts combined with specially composed poetry, music and film, to take us from Flanders and the Blitz to Bosnia and Iraq while meditating on the sacrifice of life and innocence caused by the conflicts of the past century.

Introduced by Ciara MacLaverty. Sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust.

8pm at the Round Church, Bowmore.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

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Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written! A poetry workshop facilitated by Chrys Salt

Poetry can make outrageous linkages, odd conjunctions and associations. It gives you permission to say things of which you don’t yet know the meaning. It’s a special way of stringing words together. Leading poet Chrys will take you on a rollercoaster journey into the imagination by using a series of short writing exercises to engender new and exciting ways of seeing the world. Results will be shared so that participants can learn from each other in a safe, friendly, light-hearted atmosphere. The aim is to have fun, write differently, discover new pleasures in our texts. All are welcome, although the workshop is limited to 15 places so advance booking is advisable. Bring a notebook, a pen, and an open mind!

Teas and coffees provided. Sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust and Islay House.

11am–1pm at Islay House, Bridgend.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

WW100 Reflections: Flowers of the Forest

Leading author, historian and broadcaster Trevor Royle talks about his books on World War I, looking at how the war changed Scotland both at home and on the front, and how it led to a renaissance in Scottish literature with a huge range of literary material being produced by Scottish writers – including poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, letters and articles. Trevor also reflects on what we have learnt since then.

A free shuttle bus to Port Ellen will depart from the square in Bowmore at 1:45pm sharp, returning from Port Ellen at 5:30pm (after Les Wilson and Stuart Graham’s event, which follows).

2:30pm at Cyber Bistro, Port Ellen.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.

WW100 Reflections: When War Came to the Hebrides

Award-winning filmmaker and author Les Wilson is in conversation with Stuart Graham discussing the local World War I story. Les will talk about his recent book, ‘The Drowned and the Saved’, an important contribution featuring many first-hand accounts on the sinking of two US troopships, the Tuscania and the Otranto, off the coast of Islay in 1918 and the momentous rescue effort launched by the Islay community. Stuart will talk about his revised and updated edition of ‘These Men Are Worth Your Tears’, which has just been published, about the history of the men from Islay and Jura who served in World War I, when over 200 of them were killed. Come along to find out more about some of these remarkable local war stories.

Introduced by Jenni Minto, Chair of WW100 Islay. Complimentary teas/coffees and cakes.

The shuttle bus will return to Bowmore from the Cyber Bistro at 5:30pm.

4pm at Cyber Bistro, Port Ellen.
Tickets: Standard £5 | Concession £3.