REVIEW: Highland Literary Salon slam
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HIghland Literary Salon
Glenmoriston Hotel, Inverness
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by Margaret Chrystall
THE first Highland Literary Salon of the year started with workshop exercises for writers to warm up the voice – the one taught by lecturer Tara Taylor-Craig called "The Siren" could get you arrested.
But it looked as if the writers’ readings – or "slam"– due to follow the workshop was going to come from a select few.
A quick break between events gave people the chance to get a drink. And it must have been then, as you looked at the twinkling lights along the river from the windows of the Glenmoriston, that they came.
Out of the darkness, with the soundless approach of a starving zombie army, lots of writers were suddenly there behind you - luckily just waiting patiently for their turn to read, not rip the living flesh from your bones. Maybe got an idea what to write for next time, though...
It was a great turnout – of males and females and different ages.
Those who wanted to read put their name on a list and were introduced by programme coordinator Paul Shanks. The salon’s chair Drew Hillier was given the uncomfortable task of calling time on each writer once each had had five minutes’ reading time. But the vintage car horn was only sounded to ensure enough time for everyone to get their turn.
The variety of the writing shared with the room was ambitious. Though billed as a prose and poetry slam, within that there were almost as many genres as shades of imagination. And the only similarity between the work of the 16 writers who got up the courage to read was the high quality.
We got an extract from an in-progress crime novel, a "timely satire" mentioning Brexit , an award-winning short story, a cautionary tale about a young litter bug, a published travel book, a description of how it feels to grow wings and some rap by a female writer who shares her name with a Victorian literary legend.
One writer even managed to pack in "a monologue, a flow of consciousness and a poem" in less than her five minutes.
Poems had subjects from a hermit crab to a long, ingenious tour de force that could change the way you think about cockroaches forever, finally the last lyrical poem called Just Look made what Paul called a "poignant ending" to the slam.
For anyone who fancies the challenge of reading their writing to a receptive audience, the next slam event is in July though there are many workshop-and-author events in between.
The next Highland Literary Salon event is a meet and greet – also at the Glenmoriston – on Tuesday, February 28 at 7.30pm to share ideas for the salon’s future. More information: www.highlandlitsalon.com
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