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Thursday, September 29, 2022

International Residencies Create Thriving Hub of Literature in The Highlands

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This Spring, Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre will be host to a thriving hub of international literature, as it welcomes writers from across the globe as part of its Residencies Programme.

Writers from India, Nigeria, Togo, Canada, Spain, Scotland, and England will be staying at the Centre in the Scottish Highlands throughout March, as part of an ambitious collaborative project, including the International Writers’ Residency, the International Translator’s Residency, and the Jessie Kesson Fellowship.

The award-winning International Writer Residents are: Nigerian playwright, poet and writer, Bode Asiyanbi; Nigerian writer and visual artist, TJ Benson; Scotland based Texan poet and fiction writer, Carly Brown; Indian journalist and author, Puja Changoiwala; writer, business journalist and blogger from Togo, Ayi Renaud Dossavi; Scottish author of psychological thrillers, Sandra Ireland; poet and author based in Scotland, Nadine Aisha Jassat; Scottish Pakistani poet, Sunnah Khan; and Nigerian poet and performer based in Canada, Titilope Sonuga.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, was on the judging panel for the Writers’ Residency. 

He said:

“This is a fabulous initiative by Moniack Mhor, a residency that brings together exceptional writers from across the world in one of Scotland’s best-loved literary hubs – and then gives them the chance to travel to a leading West African festival to share their ideas.

“The quality of the applicants was eye-opening, and I imagine the eventual outputs will be stellar.”

Efe Paul-Azino, Director of the Lagos International Poetry Festival, was also a judge. 

He added:

“The process showed a range and quality of entries that reinforce how vital literature and art are in these times, and the unfailing capacity of writers to meet historical moments of uncertainty with clarity and insight.

“An outstanding pool of applications and a refreshing, diverse shortlist.”

The visiting writers will be taking part in an events programme, creating opportunities for Scottish audiences to hear the dynamic and evocative work that so impressed the judges. 

These include a showcase at StAnza Poetry Festival, readings at The Pier Arts Centre in Orkney, The Ceilidh Place in Ullapool, and The Highland Bookshop in Fort William, then culminating in a ceilidh of spoken word and music to be held in Inverness.

Also, resident at Moniack Mhor throughout March will be Gemma Rovira Ortega, the International Translator Award winner, and Debris Stevenson, the 2022 Jessie Kesson Fellow.

Gemma Rovira Ortega has translated over 200 works from authors such as Margaret Atwood, Donna Tartt, John Boyne, Jhumpa Lahiri, Caitlin Moran, Tom Sharpe, and JK Rowling. 

Gemma will be meeting with Scottish writers and publishing professionals during her residency, with a view to expanding her own work and the international reach of Scottish literature.

Debris Stevenson, the Jessie Kesson Fellow, is a hybrid-playwright, dyslexic educator, Grime-poet, queer ex-Mormon, and pro-raver.

Her work explores the intersectional, unexpected, and unjust whilst making the audience dance, question, and laugh.

As well as working on her own project throughout the residency, Debris will also be providing workshops to community groups in the Highlands.

Rachel Humphries, Centre Director at Moniack Mhor said:

“We are extremely grateful to both the British Council and Creative Scotland for funding these fantastic opportunities, and we are very excited to see the work that comes out of this time.”

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