Dunbar’s CoastWord Festival took place between June 20th and 22nd, 2014. It was a wonderful mix of well-known literary figures and local talent, with music of various kinds, readings, discussions, fun activities, and an innovative and joyful children’s programme.
I’m going to talk here about the events I was personally involved in, although I took part in other events, and I am one of the team who organised it. Other members of the team will blog elsewhere on their own events, and we’ll co-ordinate them later.
At the outset, I’ll say that I consider it to have been an outstanding success. The audiences were large and appreciative, with several events at capacity. Audience feedback has been incredibly positive, heart-warming at times.
My own events kicked off on the Saturday morning, setting off for Dunbar Station to do a tea ceremony on the platform, around the Wishing Well. Jane took this photo of me before I left.
This is the full men’s summer kimono outfit, apart from geta sandals (which I have not got), consisting of haora, hakama, obi (the belt) and tabi socks, with the divided big toe. What I couldn’t get over was that I walked along the platform, past passengers waiting for the 09:54 train to Edinburgh, and nobody said anything, or batted an eyelid! It’s not exactly an everyday sight.
The tea ceremony was appreciated by around 15 folk, who tasted the strong green matcha tea with me. I hadn’t expected to see so many people there for it, so it was a lovely surprise. And the weather was beautiful.
Then I headed off to do an intimate poetry workshop in the offices of Brennan Wilson just by the station. We explored coastline words first, then wrote poems on the unique environment where land and sea meet. After reading a couple of strongly dramatic poems, we went on to explore ‘coast’ as a setting for dramatic events, and the poems which came out of it were stunning.
I met up with my fellow Dunbar Writers outside the Station, and we walked through the town on a ‘Story Walk’, stopping at various points to read poems and stories inspired by John Muir, and published that day by Calder Wood Press.
Then I manned the Calder Wood Press book stall at the Word Fair, popping in briefly to see Bernard McLaverty presenting the awards to the winners of the Into the Woods competition.
In the evening I had the great pleasure of introducing Bernard McLaverty at an author event. He read one of his short stories, and then answered questions. It was a delightful session, much appreciated by the audience.
My big event on the Sunday was an afternoon of Poetry and Jazz at The Rocks Hotel, improvising on saxophones and clarinet to poetry readings by Jo Gibson, Kevin Cadwallender and Brian Johnstone. Terrific performances from the poets, and the audience was highly appreciative. I used to do such sessions in Edinburgh many years ago, and it was great to do it again.