No, I've not undergone a road-to-Pittodrie conversion to the Church of Two Halves; the season I'm talking about is the Shore Poets autumn programme, which got off to a superb start last night with Jackie Kay, Christine De Luca, Mandy Maxwell and music from the Linties.
Mandy Maxwell is a graduate of the creative writing programme at Glasgow Uni. Her sharp, tight writing is very much grounded and rooted in Glasgow and she's a good performer. I think last night was her first proper gig in Edinburgh, although she read at the Shore Poets open night back in April. I've no doubt more will be heard from her in future.
Christine De Luca needs no introduction to anyone familiar with Shore Poets. With Shetlandic and English at her disposal, she has a dinstinctive, lyrical voice. Christine read beautifully from her latest book, Parallel Worlds, and new work.
The last time I heard Jackie Kay was at the end of my first year at uni--that's 11 (gulp!) years ago. She's a fantastic reader: warm, engaging, entertaining and endearing. For some reason--I suppose it must be lack of acquaintance with her recent work, to my shame--I was surprised at the amount of Scots in the work she read. Surprised, but delighted: it contributes to a rich and broad voice. Her set consisted of poems from Life Mask, new poems and one short story (cheat!). She read a couple of pieces that she described as children's poems; they lacked none of the sophistication and beauty of her adult work.
The Linties, of course, I have heard before and knew they'd be perfect for a Shore Poets evening, although I can take no credit for booking them for last night. They provided us with a mix of bawdy, bonnie and blythe songs in varying degrees of Scots and English, hugely entertaining and beautifully sung with great harmonies. Bands like the Linties show how much vigour and verve there is in traditional music in Scotland without the paraphernalia of popdom. Not that I'm at all averse to the mixing of traditional and other music forms either.
You can read the Linties' comments on the evening here at their blog. You can keep abreast of their gigs here.
I've also blogged a bit about the evening over at The Skraich.