Meeting the Makar

Find out what’s been going on in our sessions as one of our Lead Readers shares news from their group.


Meeting the Makar: Airdrie group’s trip to the Edinburgh International Book Festival


Lesley Mure is one of the lead readers helping to run our groups at St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie (with Mechele Wimble) and at the National Library of Scotland (with Clotilde Chereau). 


In August 2019, most of the members of the Open Book group – which meets at St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie – went to the Edinburgh International Book Festival to hear Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay discuss with Tanika Gupta how Jackie’s book “Red Dust Road” had been adapted for the stage by Tanika.  We had read extracts from “Red Dust Road” during our meetings before the trip and most of us had enjoyed the extracts so much we had bought and read the book before the trip.  Scott Watson from St Andrew’s Hospice drove the group through to Edinburgh – thank you Scott! – in the Hospice minibus – thank you St Andrew’s Hospice! – which made getting to Edinburgh really easy.  And we had a really good time on the minibus with our other lead reader Mechele.


When the group arrived, we were met by Claire and Marjorie and had a lovely lunch in the Open Book room – thank you Open Book! – before enjoying a really entertaining session with Jackie and Tanika.  It was great for us to hear the background to the book and also to learn how tricky it had been to adapt the book for the stage.  Most of all we enjoyed hearing Jackie explain and then read some of her poems. 


Needless to say, we all wanted to buy a copy of a book by Jackie at the end of the session, so we headed to the signing tent and then Jackie signed our books.  We also bought one for Sister Veronica (a member of our group who hadn’t been able to join us for the trip).  Jackie “put on her lippie” to have a photo taken with all of us so we could have an extra memento of the day, which you can see above


Jackie stood to read her poems and so when we meet now we ask Mechele to stand to read the poem at the end of our sessions – “like Jackie”.  The trip was the first time any of us had been to the Book Festival and the trip has brought us much closer together as a group.


Since then, some new members have joined our group and we have told them all about our wonderful trip to the Book Festival.  We have thought about planning other trips and we were hoping to be able to go back to the Book Festival this summer.  Looks like we’ll have to wait till next year now but in the meantime some of us follow Jackie who is writing a new poem every Sunday of lockdown.  You can read them on the Sunday Postwebsite.


Jackie has also created Makar to Makar conversations with other writers, poets and musicians which includes poetry reading and music performances hosted by the National Theatre of Scotland and are streamed every Thursday at 7pm for about an hour.  You can check it out here. You can also catch up on past sessions on YouTube.