Open Book’s Further Afield Project Takes Off!

We are delighted to report that our Further Afield project, new pilot groups in Stranraer, Ullapool, Kirkwall, Aberdeen, Eyemouth, Lochgelly and (two groups in) Dundee have been granted funding by Creative Scotland and will begin later this month. We’ve had a busy month training new Lead Readers in the Open Book shared reading+creative writing model, and bringing them into the overall Open Book family. Watch this space for updates on those new groups and how they unfold!


Open Book’s Marjorie Lotfi Gill in conversation with Richard Holloway

Listen to Open Book’s Marjorie Lotfi Gill in conversation with Richard Holloway, for Book week Scotland 2018, talking about how an Open Book session runs and why shared reading works.


Book Week Scotland – Rebel Yell with Open Book

This year for Book Week Scotland, Open Book is running a series of shared read+creative writing in our PUBLIC groups, on the theme of Rebel!

Join us at any one of these sessions:

Tuesday 20th November from 10:15-11:45 at the National Library of Scotland, led by poet Jonathan Bay:

Wednesday 21st November from 10:30-12:30 at the Portrait Gallery, led by poet Anne Hay:

Thursday 22nd November from 10:30-12pm at the Botanic Cottage, RBGE, led by poet Alice Tarbuck.

We hope to see you there!


New Lead Readers

We had an overwhelming response to our call out for new Lead Readers for the Open Book Community Project. After some difficult decisions, we are thrilled to have a super team of talented new Lead Readers on board for the Project:

Esa Aldegheri – The Welcoming and Welcoming Women

Sian Bevan – Rowan Alba

Beth Godfrey – Shakti Women’s Aid

Katherine Mackinnon – Maryhill Integration Network

Colin McGuire – Bethany Christian Trust

Jess Orr – WHALE Arts, Perth Readers and Grassmarket Community Project

Ben Please – Lothlorien Theraputic Community

Calum Rodger – HMP Low Moss and HMP Barlinnie

Em Strang – HMP Dumfries and The Stove

We’re also excited to announce that Jennifer L Williams is piloting a new monthly shared reading + creative writing group at the Fruitmarket Gallery (dovetailing our existing Wednesday group at the Portrait Gallery, led by Anne Hay).

Join us at any of our public groups (click on GROUPS above for more info) or get in touch to get involved!


Hiring New Lead Readers

Open Book is looking for new Lead Readers for 3 groups as a part of our newly funded Community Project. Each post includes developing and delivering 10 shared reading and creative writing sessions with a community group in Edinburgh over the next 12 months (roughly one monthly, apart from December and July), attending two half-day training sessions (including the first on 19th September) and attending the Edinburgh Book Festival with that group at our Open Book day out in August. The fee for each Lead Reader role is £1900, which includes all travel expenses.

Each group will meet one Wednesday a month (3 times within Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec 2018, and monthly January – June and also early August 2019), within the following community groups:

Bethany Christian Trust (Leith), ‪2:30-4:30pm‬, beginning late Sept/early Oct

Shakti Women’s Aid (Easter Road), ‪11:30-1pm‬, ‪beginning 26 September‬

Rowan Alba (Pilton), ‪6:30-8pm‬, ‪beginning 17 October‬

Please email and with a CV and a a short expression of interest. (Although not necessary, please note any prior work experience with populations who have experienced homelessness or living with domestic violence.) The closing date for applications is Monday 10th September at 5pm.


Edinburgh Book Festival 2018

This year, Open Book brought around 300 of our readers to the Book Festival over two days.  
On Monday 13th August, 120 women and children from Maryhill Integration Network, The Welcoming and a Kurdish-speaking Syrian group attended several events in the Book Festival programme, were treated to two poetry readings (with Arabic translation) accompanied by harp, had private children’s storytelling sessions with Vivian French that were illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba, and enjoyed a zine-making working with Sasha de Buyl. Each of the families were gifted a copy of The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris, and we then took the group off to the Botanics to meet Jackie Morris and run off some steam before everyone boarded buses for home.  
On Friday 17th August, around 125 of our readers from 16 other groups (including Grassmarket Community Project, Bethany Christian Trust, Deaf Action Scotland, Real Life Options, and the Open Door Cafe) attended seven different events at the Book Festival.  One of our readers said “I’ve always wanted to come to the Book Festival, but I’ve never been brave enough.”
Founders Claire Urquhart and Marjorie Gill also ran three shared reading groups as a part of the Festival programme (on Life of Pi, Oscar and Lucinda and  The English Patient), and Open Book volunteers ran six shared reading sessions in the Festival cafe that were open to the public. We had a great year at the Book Festival, and are already planning our 2019 outing!

Creative Scotland Large Project Funding

We are delighted to announce that Creative Scotland has approved our Large Project Community Project funding.  This funding will allow us to work in ten different community groups (including Grassmarket Community Project, The Stove, WHALE Arts, Rowan Alba, The Welcoming, Maryhill Integration Network, Shakti Women’s Aid and others) across 12 months.  We’ll also be able to continue and extend our work within the Scottish Prison Service over the next year.  We’re thrilled!



Open Book at Botanic Gardens!

At the end of a long and energetic day at the Book Festival, Open Book brought over 100 of our women and children readers from Maryhill Integration Network (Glasgow), The Welcoming (Edinburgh), and an Edinburgh-based group of Syrian Kurdish speakers to the Botanic Gardens to explore the gardens, blow off steam and meet the artist Jackie Morris. First, we were welcomed into Inverleith House see the exhibition of Jackie’s original work from The Lost Words and ask questions while we she painted some new work. (She then gifted Open Book some of her work from that day, pictured below.)

We even gave her our own lost words (or words we don’t hear any longer), including the word Yade, Kurdish for mother.

Afterwards, we all had a warm welcome at the Botanic Cottage, where the entire group was treated to coffee and tea, sandwiches, snacks and baklava, as well as some fresh produce from the garden! After a good look around the Cottage, some of the children played out doors despite the rain while we waited for Jackie to join us.

Over her own cup of tea and baklava, she patiently signed each gifted copy of The Lost Words before the entire crew loaded back onto the buses and headed for home. Jackie later called her visit with our readers the highlight of her Festival; it certainly was ours!


Poetry in the News

Marjorie’s poem about Iran up at, one of our favourite journals!

“The Wrong Person to Ask” by Marjorie Lotfi Gill


Marjorie Gill talks on Radio Scotland’s Afternoon Show

Open Book’s Marjorie Gill appeared on Radio Scotland’s Afternoon Show talking about Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. Hear what she has to say here before you see the film version that is due out 8 May 2018.

Marjorie Gill on The Afternoon Show Book Group