Literary delights in Gatehouse

Poetry in the car park
Poetry in the car park

THE weather was splendid and Gatehouse of Fleet was at its most picturesque when the Dumfries and Galloway Festival opened its doors to anyone with literary leanings.

For the first time all the Festival’s literary events in one day – but Gatehouse was prepared to give it a go.

The net was spread wide from poets and authors to those who ran workshops for would-be songwriters or have-a-go poets who found themselves confronted by piles of newspapers, prit stick and sharp scissors and were asked to create poems from curious cuttings.

But before these poets got to work a generous sized crowd had been intrigued by Karen Campbell, an unusual woman who had been a policewoman before turning to writing novels. Her fifth novel will shortly appear under the famous Harry Potter imprint of Bloomsbury Press.

Besides other notable authors like local favourite Margaret Elphinstone, you would most likely have been assailed by a band of guerrilla poets who would attach themselves to you until you had been thoroughly ‘guerrillad’ with verse..

Indeed there was poetry everywhere, even on the pavement in coloured chalk and in the windows of houses and shops. For those who were lucky enough to be there, a highlight of the day was actress Annette Badland (known for her appearances in Bergerac, Dr Who and The Archers) who performed poems from Carol Anne Duffy’s collection The World’s Wife – the savage and ironic commentaries from the wives of famous men.

A remarkable performance by a remarkable actress. Maybe at next year’s event, which must surely follow, a man will have the opportunity to reply in kind.

“That was the best Literature Festival I have ever attended,” said Katrina Porteous, one of the performers.

Praise indeed.