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International spoken word festival heads to New Pitsligo

By David Porter

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New Pitsligo, situated 35 miles north of Aberdeen in the heart of the Buchan area of Aberdeenshire is, some would consider, a most unlikely place for an International Spoken Word Festival.

Placed on the main road between Peterhead and Banff, and only 11 miles from Fraserburgh, this planned 18th century planned village is not the first place you might think of when talking about art and creativity.

But it has a long established history in arts and crafts.

Queen Victoria’s household bought lace from the makers in the village, a skill that still goes on today and renowned fashion designer Bill Gibb came from there.

It also holds a well supported, annual visual arts show, which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary.

August however sees a first, not only for New Pitsligo, but for this part of the north-east as an international Spoken Word and Music festival is being held there.

Artists from as far afield as USA and Philippines are making their way to this otherwise quiet town which also happens to be where the only ever winner of the world buttery competition hails from to celebrate the art of poetry and storytelling.

There will be a workshop on Doric Limerick Writing, Tarot Card Reading as well as stalls and everything you expect from a festival.

Held over two days on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday 14 between noon and 6pm, the main venue will be The Village Hall, with music from local acts, and headlined by Stonehaven’s Colin Clyne, performing in the evening from 7pm in the local Legion.

Sunday afternoon the stage will be called ‘ Mainly Mither Tongue’ where Doric, Scots, and other languages will be highlighted.

Fin Hall
Fin Hall

The idea for this event came when a local hotelier offered the producer of the event, Fin Hall, the use of his outside area for free use for something artistic.

The idea of a festival was born, and he mentioned this to his social media contacts, and many of them said they would come.

The bulk of the artists come from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, but several from England and other parts of Scotland and abroad, have booked their accommodation already.

Although the hotel is now closed, it was the next logical step to hire out the hall for this free event.

Yes, you read right, it’s free - no tickets, just turn up and be entertained.

Colin Clyne
Colin Clyne

Among the acts slated to attend is Special K poet extraordinaire, who hails from Virginia USA and wows audiences wherever she appears: Jo Gilbert, popular Aberdeen performer and co host of Poetry At Books and Beans, and, travelling up from Reading, is Ian McKenzie, a poet who is seen extensively in online events across the world.

There will be around 40 different performers appearing over the two afternoons and evening .

Grampian Association of Storytellers, will be in the upstairs hall on Saturday afternoon.

The line up for Saturday at New Pitsligo Village Hall includes - Fin Hall, Peter Clive, Bob Whelan, Kelly Buchan, Ian McKenzie, Brian Enmon, Michael Arthur, Kate Jenkinson, Wanderlust Women, Linda Jaxson, Lesley Benzie, Donna Campbell, Special K, Al Buchanan, Peter A, John Bolland, Bob Kenyon, Gavin Cameron, Lkn, Gary Huskisson, Bernard Briggs. Haworth Hodkinson, Mandy MacDonald, Marka Rifat, Knotbrook Taylor and Intuitive Music Aberdeen.

Saturday at the Legion Hall - Nicola Furley Lilley, Billy Laing, Alex and Eric, plus guests and headliner Colin Clyne.

Sunday 14 at New Pitsligo Village Hall - Fiona Jane Brown, Hannah Nicholson, Jo Gilbert, Blair Centre, Aberdeen Gaelic Choir, Birgit Itse, Katka, Bonus The Rhymer, Nick Bagshaw, Jess Smith, Isobel Gregory, Arizona Brodie, Finola Scott, Ann McKinnon, Modren Makars, Jaeden Reppert, Scott Cumming, Dave Wilkie and Isaac McKay.

Jo Gilbert
Jo Gilbert

As well as being the driving force behind the event itself, Fin Hall hosts Like A Blot From The Blue, a poetry and spoken-word event which welcomes in hundreds of creatives from across the globe as well as a running a regular open mic night at The Blue Lamp.

Fin is a profoundly experienced poet with a career spanning decades.

He is also a filmmaker, collaborative writer, performance poet and this year, as well as adding a second regular venue for his Blot shows at The White Horse in Strichen is working on his third collection of collaborative works.

He has two solo collections , Once Upon A Time There Was, Now There Isn’t, & Solidarity( a short collection of rant political poems ) , two collaborative, Joined Up Writing 1 and 2, where over a 200 writers from around the globe are part of it ( book 3 is almost done) and has well close to 30 pieces published both online and in books from Australia, China, India USA, Canada and U.K.

At the moment he is also getting ready to publish a book by 70 different writers aged over 70, and next year he will have another collection out, but this time his daughter will be part of it.

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