Open Book Unbound
We’re excited to welcome you to Open Book Unbound – our virtual home while restrictions remain in place. After almost six months of sharing poems and online resources each week we have moved to a new format.
We’ll send out a mini newsletter each Monday (sign up to our mailing list to make sure you never miss an issue!), with details of our virtual shared reading groups online – open to anyone and everyone.
In addition, once a month we’ll publish our bumper newsletter – full of stories, poems and other material to help keep us all reading, writing and connecting while we can’t meet together in person. You can continue to access all of the previous Open Book Unbound content (newsletters, podcasts, new writing and more) here on our website.
Thanks as ever for all your support – we’re delighted by the feedback we’ve had on Open Book Unbound and particularly happy that we’ve been able to reach so many people, based worldwide, in what has been a difficult time for everyone in different ways.
We’re excited about the opportunities that this new format brings and hope there will be much for us all to continue to share and enjoy in the weeks ahead.
Claire & Marjorie
Open Book Unbound
Sign up to our mailing list to make sure you never miss an issue of our newsletter – we’ll send it straight to your inbox each week, along with updates and other information.
Links to listen to our Open Book Unbound podcasts are below, with a summary of what's included in each.
On this episode Marjorie and Claire discuss “A Visit from Niven and Flynn” by Dorothy Lawrenson and “Flying Inside Your Own Body” by Margaret Atwood.
December 2020We return with the first of our new monthly podcasts and this one features a new story ‘The Christmas Box’ by Liz Treacher. We also read the poem ‘The Coming of Light’ Mark Strand.
31 August 2020
We discuss our commissioned story ‘Unbound’ by Iain Matheson and the poem ‘Daisy’ by Alice Oswald.
24 August 2020
We discuss our commissioned piece ‘The Bench’ by Beth Godfrey and the poem ‘Once Upon a Time’ by Gabriel Okara.
17 August 2020
In this episode we discuss our commissioned piece ‘Orange Peel’ by Sophie Law and the poems ‘A Birthday’ by Edwin Muir and ‘The Orange’ by Wendy Cope.
10 August 2020
We take a break from our commissioned pieces of writing on this episode to read an abridged version of the first chapter from The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar. We also look ahead to the event with the author which our very own Marjorie Lotfi Gill will be chairing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Wednesday 19 August at 11.30.
3 August 2020
In this episode we discuss our commissioned piece ‘The Happy House’ by Kathryn Koromilas and the poems ‘Little Sea House’ by Hamish MacLaren and ‘Home is so Sad’ by Philip Larkin.
27 July 2020
In this episode, we discuss our commissioned piece ‘Gathering Threads’ by Lisa Williams and ‘The Knitter’ by Jackie Kay.
20 July 2020
In this episode we feature our Unbound commissioned piece by Elspeth Wilson and two of the poems she chose to accompany it – ‘Early April Heatwave’ by April Thomas and ‘Summit of Corrie Etchachan’ by Nan Shepherd.
13 July 2020
In this episode Claire Urquhart and Marjorie Lotfi Gill discuss our commissioned piece ‘Confluence of Years’ by Linda Cracknell and the poem ‘Crossing the Bar’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
6 July 2020
In this episode we continue our discussion of our commissioned pieces with ‘Gazing’ by Russell Jones and the poem ‘Unwittingly’ by John Burnside.
29 June 2020
Continuing our commissioned pieces, we feature ‘Essential’ by Siân Bevan and one of her chosen poems, ‘One Art’ by Elizabeth Bishop.
22 June 2020
We present the first of our commissioned pieces in this episode and feature a poem chosen by its author.
Marjorie Lotfi Gill and Claire Urquhart read and discuss the story ‘All at Sea’ by Kate Smith and the poem ‘Dolphins at Kochin’ by Tom Buchan.
15 June 2020
In this episode of Open Book Unbound Marjorie Lotfi Gill and Claire Urquhart discuss the poem ‘So Much Happiness’ by Naomi Shihab Nye and the essay by Peter Ross from Imagine a Country, edited by Jo Sharp and Val McDermid.
8 June 2020
In this episode we read ‘Child of the Moon’ by Heather Parry and ‘No.115 dreams’ by Jackie Kay.
1 June 2020
In this episode we discuss the poems ‘Temptation’ by Nina Cassian and ‘Lightness’ by Meg Bateman, as well as the short story ‘Hebridean Lovesong’ by James Robertson.
25 May 2020
Claire Urquhart and Marjorie Lotfi Gill discuss the story ‘Gunter’ by Helen Sedgwick and the poem ‘Otherwise’ by Jane Kenyon in this episode.
18 May 2020
Marjorie Lotfi Gill and Claire Urqhuart discuss Leila Aboulela’s short essay from the book Imagine A Country: Ideas for a Better Future (ed. Val McDermid & Jo Sharp) and the poems ‘Coffee Ceremony’ by Anne Hay and ‘What Work Is’ by Philip Levine in this episode of Open Book Unbound.
11 May 2020
We read ‘At Sea’ by Karen Lord, one of the Freedom Papers commissioned by the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and the poem ‘Dawn Revisited’ by Rita Dove.
4 May 2020
Inspired by the Scottish Book Trust’s theme this year, we explore two pieces that consider the future in very different ways – “Egg”, a short story by our Writer in Lockdown Jan Carson, and the poem “Curiosity” by poet and translator Alastair Reid.
27 April 2020
Claire and Marjorie read and discuss Edwin Morgan’s poems, and Liz Lochhead’s introduction to the ‘Scotland ‘ collection of Edwin Morgan Twenties.
20 April 2020
Claire Urquhart and Marjorie Lotfi Gill read and discuss ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Yiyun Li, ‘Harlem’ by Langston Hughes and ‘Late Fragment’ by Raymond Carver.
12 April 2020
In this episode we explore poems and stories with a musical theme. Claire Urquhart and Marjorie Lotfi Gill read and discuss the poems ‘Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House’ by Billy Collins and ‘Everyone Sang’ by Siegfried Sassoon, and we read the short story ‘Self Control’ by James Robertson. We also discuss your feedback from our first episode and give an update on the latest news from our virtual groups.
2 April 2020
Our first episode features Marjorie Lotfi Gill and Claire Urquhart taking part in their very first Open Book discussion as a podcast. We discuss ‘An Anti-Social Ride’ by Lee Craigie, one of Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Freedom Papers, and the poem ‘Landscape with Flying Man’ by John Glenday.
Writers in Residence
As part of our Unbound programme, developed during the Covid pandemic, Open Book began a writer’s residency to help fill our newsletter with ideas, stories and thoughts to explore and enjoy - together in our on-line Zoom groups and on our own.
We are delighted to have Alice Ash as our Open Book Unbound Writer in Residence from December 2020 – March 2021, supported by the Bank of Scotland Foundation. Alice will be writing for us each month through winter and into spring – we’ll share her writing in our monthly bumper Unbound email newsletter (sign up here), or you can catch up on everything here after each piece is published.
Alice is a new writer from Brighton. Her debut collection, Paradise Block, is forthcoming from Serpent’s Tail in Spring 2021. In 2019, Alice was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Short Story Prize, commended for The Berlin Writing Prize, and her manuscript was longlisted for the SFWP Literary Award, judged by Carmen Maria Machado. Other writing has been featured in Extra Teeth, Hotel, 3:AM, the TLS, Mslexia, and Popshot Quarterly, amongst others.
You can find Alice on Twitter & Instagram @aliceash_ or learn more at her website aliceash.com.
Jan Carson - Writer in Lockdown
Our inaugural Writer in Residence (we called her our Writer in Lockdown) was Jan Carson. For twenty weeks she kept our morale up with her wonderful Letters from Lockdown and Postcard Stories (copies available here https://theemmapress.com/).
We’re happy to share all of Jan’s Writer in Lockdown stories here – just click on the links below to access the archive and enjoy her weekly letters and stories, with their accompanying illustrations.
About Jan Carson
Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in East Belfast.
Her debut novel Malcolm Orange Disappears and short story collection, Children’s Children, were published by Liberties Press, Dublin. A micro-fiction collection, Postcard Stories was published by the Emma Press in 2017. Jan’s novel The Fire Starters was published by Doubleday in April 2019 and subsequently won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019. She has been shortlisted for the Sean O’Faolain Short Story Prize and in 2016 won the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize.
We’re delighted to share a second wonderful series of Unbound writing, supported by the Bank of Scotland Foundation. Each of the bumper newsletters between December 2020 and May 2021 will feature a story from this series as well as a podcast where Claire and Marjorie share their thoughts on it.
An earlier series of eleven pieces of commissioned writing was published in summer 2020. Each of these pieces of Unbound writing was the focus of our newsletter and also discussed in our podcast in the week in which each was published. Both are available in our archive on this page.
Kate Smith “All at Sea” – 22 June 2020, newsletter 13
Siân Bevan “Essential” – 29 June 2020, newsletter 14
Russell Jones “Gazing” – 6 July 2020, newsletter 15
Linda Cracknell “Confluence of Years” – 13 July 2020, newsletter 16
Elspeth Wilson “Body In The Landscape” –
20 July 2020, newsletter 17
Lisa Williams “Gathering Threads” – 27 July 2020, newsletter 18
Kathryn Koromilas “The Happy House” –
3 August 2020, newsletter 19
Sophie Law “Orange Peel” – 17 August 2020, newsletter 21
Beth Godfrey “The Bench” – 24 August 2020, newsletter 22
IaIn Matheson “Unbound” – 31 August 2020, newsletter 23
Pauline Moore “I took my troubles for a walk” –
7 Sept 2020 , newsletter 24
Liz Treacher “The Christmas Box” –
4 Dec 2020 , newsletter 37
Dorothy Lawrenson “A Visit from Niven & Flynn” –
4 Jan 2021 , newsletter 39