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Ullapool to host a walk on the wild side with Wanderwords

By Hector MacKenzie

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Joan Michael says authors have become friends.
Joan Michael says authors have become friends.

Ullapool Book Festival is celebrating Book Week Scotland with Wanderwords: a wander around Ullapool with stopping points along the way to enjoy a selection of poetry, stories, and extracts written by an impressive array of poets and authors all of whom have appeared at the festival.

Chair of Ullapool Book Festival, Joan Michael said: “The writers represented aren’t just guests - they have become friends of the festival.”

That enduring friendship is no doubt why each of them was very happy to agree to their work being used for Wanderwords. Ms Michael added: “Following the disappointment of cancelling what would have been our 16th annual festival, we are very happy that Wanderwords is supported by such wonderful writers as Jenni Calder, George Gunn, J. David Simons, Jen Hadfield, James Robertson, Alan Spence, Kathleen Jamie, and Humberto Ak’abal, and we will also be featuring a poem written by Ullapool Open Book creative writing group.”

Support for the event was echoed by the writers themselves. J. David Simons, author of The Land Agent, has fond memories of his session at Ullapool Book Festival and said: “I am so pleased to know that my words will form part of your event.”

James Robertson, former honorary chairman and long-standing friend of UBF, said: “Ak’abal’s sign-off is very poignant in the present circumstances.”

Wanderers will have to wait until November 16 to find out what those poignant words are.

Wanderwords was devised by local author and book festival volunteer, Lorraine Thomson.

She said: “The book festival committee loved the idea and we had great fun choosing pieces to accompany the wander. One of the great things about it is that everyone will be able to follow the route at their own pace and experience the joy of reading outdoors. You can read to yourself or to each other if you go with a friend. I’m hoping the weather will be kind to us but dressing for the elements and howling the words into the wind might be just what’s needed by mid-November.”

The start and end point of Wanderwords will be at either of the two independent bookshops in the village, where wanderers will be able to collect a wipeable, weatherproof guide free of charge. The guide contains a bespoke map designed by a local artist, directions for the route, and the words to enjoy along the way. A shorter children’s version of the guide will also be available (age approx. 9+).

UBF has strived to make the route as accessible as possible and each of the reading places has a bench or alternative seating available.

At the end of Wanderwords, wanderers can exchange the guide for a souvenir map, a selection of Book Week Scotland goodies, and a free copy of Future a book of new writing published by Book Week Scotland (suitable for 15 +).

Wanderwords will run from Monday, November 16 to Saturday, November 21. It is open to all

and promises an enjoyable activity for anyone visiting the village that week.

Ullapool Book Festival would love to see pictures of your Wanderwords on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #BookWeekScotland.

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