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Four Outriders to Cast New Light on Our World

  21 Sep '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

The Edinburgh International Book Festival today announced the launch of the third phase of Outriders, an exciting project that will see four Scottish writers join four European writers for unique and extraordinary journeys across Europe, before coming together at the Book Festival in 2023 to discuss their experiences. 

Exploring the idea that in turbulent and shifting times writers can significantly enhance our understanding of the world, Outriders is supported through the PlaCE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland) and, as in previous years, it is hoped the project will help reveal hidden histories and offer new perspectives on contemporary events.

In 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival supported ten writers to travel on journeys across the Americas, and in early 2020, Outriders again saw ten writers explore a region of the world – this time in Africa. In this latest iteration of the project, Victoria McNulty, Dean Atta, Mara Menzies, and Cal Flyn will travel along a predetermined route across countries including Poland, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Norway, Finland, and Romania, each accompanied by a European writer – Ciarán Hodgers, Kostya Tsolakis, Rawdna Carita Eira and Helene Bukowski respectively. 

All eight writers will create a new work in response to their journey and appear at the Book Festival in August 2023 to discuss the experiences and insights generated by their experience.  

Nick Barley, Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival said: ‘The Scottish Government’s PlaCE fund has given the Book Festival extraordinary opportunities to try out new ways of working with writers. Outriders is one of our most ambitious PlaCE initiatives, offering Scotland’s writers unparalleled experiences and material for their writing. At the same time Outriders promises to offer new perspectives on Europe for Scottish audiences at a time of great political and social change across the continent. This is the third iteration of Outriders, with previous projects having sent writers first to the American continent, and then across Africa. Those previous projects confirm that Outriders Europe will also generate long-term partnerships between the writers as well as opportunities to present their work across the continent.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said: ‘Outriders is a great opportunity for Scottish-based writers to explore pertinent and thought-provoking themes on their various journeys across Europe. The insights and experiences they gain from the local writers accompanying them will be invaluable. 

‘Edinburgh International Book Festival is supported through the Scottish Government’s PlaCE fund with £46,000 of this funding going towards the Outrider programme. We look forward to hearing more about these incredible journeys in a series of talks and events at next year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival.

In March 2023, Scottish Kenyan storyteller and writer Mara Menzies will travel with Norwegian and Sámi playwright Rawdna Carita Eira through the Northern regions of Norway and Finland, exploring a wild and remote landscape and the indigenous traditions of story and song that flourish there. 

The Outriders:

Victoria McNulty

Victoria McNulty is a performance poet, writer and community arts worker from the East End of Glasgow. Her pamphlet Confessionals (Speculative Books) was developed into a spoken word show by Sonnet Youth and toured nationally to critical acclaim. Her recent project Exiles has been made into a spoken word film directed by Kevin P Gilday and David Hayman JR. Work from the film received the 2022 Annual John Byrne Award. Victoria has performed at celebrated arts events including Féile an Phobail, BBC6 Music Festival, Neu Reekie, the James Connolly Festival, Evidently Salford and Loud Poets. She was the recipient of Writer o the Year at the 2021 Scots Language Awards in Dundee. In 2018 Victoria participated in Neu Reekie’s residency at Curfew Tower, NI and was 2022 Paisley Book Festival Writer in Residence. 

Ciarán Hodgers

Ciarán Hodgers is a Drogheda-born spoken word poet. His debut collection 

Cosmocartography was shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award 2019, and was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, The Independent, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTE Radio 1, and BBC Radio Merseyside. Named “one of the region’s most exciting spoken word performers” by The Independent, Ciarán has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2020, shortlisted for the OutSpoken Prize for Poetry two years in a row, and longlisted for the Not The Foreword Prize and the Gingko Eco-Poetry competition. He was the Sean Dunne National Young Writer in 2010, an International Pangaea Poetry Slam Champion in 2015 and the Word War 3 Slam Champion. He has performed in festivals and venues across the UK and Ireland including The Royal Albert Hall, John Ryland’s Library, and the London Irish Centre.

Dean Atta

Dean Atta is a British author from London. He is a Malika’s Poetry Kitchen member, National Poetry Day ambassador and LGBT+ History Month patron. Dean’s poems have been highly commended by the Forward Prizes for Poetry and shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. Dean’s debut poetry collection was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize and his novel in verse, The Black Flamingo (Hodder Children’s Books, 2019), won the Stonewall Book Award and was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, Jhalak Prize, Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Waterstones Children’s Book Award. His second novel, Only on the Weekends (Hodder Children’s Books), came out in Spring 2022. His second poetry collection, There is (still) love here, is out now with Nine Arches Press. 

Kostya Tsolakis 

Kostya Tsolakis is a London-based poet, born and raised in Athens, Greece. A Warwick Writing Programme graduate, he is founding co-editor of harana poetry, the online magazine for poets writing in English as a second or parallel language. In 2019, he won the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition (ESL category), judged by Jackie Kay. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry London, Poetry Review, Stand, fourteen poems, Magma, perverse, The Scores, The Tangerine and Wasafiri, among others. His pamphlet Ephebos is out with ignitionpress. His debut poetry collection will be published in 2023.

Mara Menzies

Mara Menzies is a Scottish Kenyan performance storyteller whose dynamic, colourful style brings this ancient artform to life. She has been invited to share stories in 27 countries. Her latest production, ‘Blood and Gold’, which explored the legacy of colonialism and slavery through myth, legend and fantasy, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 as part of the Made in Scotland showcase and in 2021 was published in book form by Birlinn. The performance enabled Mara to win The Stage Award for Acting Excellence and rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022. Mara is the founder of the Kwale Sculpture Park and Heritage Trail in Mbegani Village at the Kenyan coast, creating a heritage trail that demonstrates the beauty and richness of the local culture and stories alongside Mbegani Rising, a unique community development organisation. She is currently working alongside traditional rainmakers in Northern Kenya to explore the connections between indigenous knowledge and meteorology.

Rawdna Carita Eira

Rawdna Carita Eira is a Sami poet, storyteller and playwright living in Guovdageaidnu/Sápmi/Norway. She is currently working as stage manager and dramatist at The Sami National Theatre Beaivvaš and is also a part of the artist collective Dáiddadállu. She debuted in 2011 with the poetry collection “ruohta muzetbeallji ruohta/løp svartøre løp”, which was nominated for the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize the same year. In 2012, she was nominated for the national Ibsen Award for the play “Guohcanuori šuvva/Sangen fra Rotsundet”, and in 2020, she and composer Britta Byström, were nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award in Toronto for the opera “Gállábártnit”. She also writes lyrics for artists such as Mari Boine, Frode Fjellheim, Roger Ludvigsen and others.

Cal Flyn

Cal Flyn is an award-winning writer from the Highlands of Scotland. She writes literary nonfiction and long-form journalism. Her most recent book, Islands of Abandonment, won the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing. It was also shortlisted for a number of awards including the Baillie Gifford Prize, the Ondaatje Prize, the British Academy Book Prize, and for the title of Scottish Nonfiction Book of the Year. She was made a MacDowell fellow in 2019, and was recently announced the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

Helene Bukowski

Helene Bukowski, born in Berlin in 1993, now lives back in her native city. She studied at the Hildesheim Literature Institute. In 2019, her debut novel “Milchzähne” (Milk Teeth) was published, for which she was nominated for the Mara Cassens Prize, the Rauriser Literature Prize and the Kranichsteiner Literature Prize, among others. The novel has been translated into French and English – her English translator is Jen Calleja – and a film adaptation is in preparation. Her second novel “Die Kriegerinn” (The Warrior) was published in September 2022.

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