Great Guest Curator Events at Paisley Book Festival 2022

Thursday 10th February, 2022

For 10 days, Paisley Book Festival 2022 will be showcasing some of the best and most diverse voices being published today in Scotland and beyond.

The festival is taking place from Thursday 17 to Saturday 26 of February, with a selection of acts being hosted at different venues across Paisley.

This year’s guest curators are Harry Josephine Giles and Mara Menzies. Find out more about them and take a look at more guest curator events below…

Minding Language – Harry Josephine Giles

Minding Language is a series of events about poetry in these islands that unsettles the languages we use. Exploring Scotland’s many languages, minority language, multilingualism, translation, and ways of writing beyond and against English, the events bring together writers who are expanding the possibilities of language in our poetry and in our lives.

Curated by Orkney writer Harry Josephine Giles, each event brings together two world-class poets in readings and conversations that explore new linguistic horizons for poetry.

With a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling, Harry Josephine’s work generally happens in the crunchy places where performance and politics get muddled up. As a poet, Harry Josephine has toured globally, and their poetry collections Tonguit (2015) and The Games (2018) were shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year.


The Power of Storytelling – Mara Menzies

Mara Menzies

The Power of Storytelling is a series of events about the joy and the power of storytelling in our lives, and the drive to constantly find new ways to tell our stories and pass them on to future generations. These events examine how our multiple heritages can influence the stories we tell, as well as the relevance of ancient stories for modern times.

With the help of writers, storytellers and performers, Guest Curator Mara Menzies explores how stories can be transformed from oral tales into book form, and from paper into living, breathing performances.

Mara Menzies is an award-winning performance storyteller who draws on her rich Kenyan/Scottish cultural heritage to re-tell and create new narratives that give insight into her perception of the world.

She has toured globally with the live production that inspired this book, which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 as part of the Made in Scotland showcase. She is also the founder of the Kwale Sculpture Park and Heritage Trail in Mbegani Village at the Kenyan coast.


Now take a look at these great curator events…

Double Language with Raman Mundair and Raymond Antrobus

  • Venue – Online Event
  • Date – 18th February, 4:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Book tickets

In this event, Guest Curator Harry Josephine Giles brings together poets who have nimbly mixed languages in their work to make poetry that brings alive their ways of thinking. Raman Mundair is writer, filmmaker, and activist based in Shetland and Glasgow, whose poetry has incorporated Scots into searching explorations of politics and home. Raymond Antrobus is a poet, educator and investigator of missing sounds, who has used sign language and closed captioning in his enlivening and lyrical poetry.

Part of Minding Language, a series of events curated by Harry Josephine Giles.


Translating Experience with Juana Adcock and Vahni Anthony Capildeo

  • Venue – UWS Main Hall, Storie St, PA1 2HB 
  • Date – 19th February at 4:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Book tickets

Juana Adcock is a Latinx poet and translator working in English and Spanish. Her English-language debut poetry collection, Split, was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was included in the Guardian’s Best Poetry of 2019. Vahni Anthony Capildeo is Writer in Residence and Professor at the University of York. Their latest of over a dozen collections is Like a Tree, Walking and is a PBS Winter Choice. Their pamphlet Light Site is a set of expanded translations after Eugène Ionesco, Pierre de Ronsard and others.

Part of Minding Language, a series of events curated by Harry Josephine Giles.


Island Words with Roseanne Watt and Pàdraig MacAoidh

  • Venue – The Students’ Union (Main Hall), Storie St, PA1 2HB
  • Date – 20th February at 6:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Book tickets

Roseanne Watt is a writer, filmmaker and musician from Shetland. Her dual-language debut collection, Moder Dy (2019), received the prestigious Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for Scottish poets under 30. Pàdraig MacAoidh / Peter Mackay, from the Isle of Lewis, is a poet, lecturer and broadcaster. He has two collections of poems with Acair: Nàdur De (2020) and Gu Leòr (2015), and a pamphlet, From Another Island, with Clutag Press (2010).

Part of Minding Language, a series of events curated by Harry Josephine Giles.


Late Night Stories: Bridging Cultures through Storytelling

  • Venue – The Students’ Union (Main Hall), Storie St, PA1 2HB
  • Date – 25th February at 9:00 – 10:30 pm
  • Book tickets

Join Gauri Raje, Jess Smith and Clare McNicol, an extraordinary line-up of storytellers who, while belonging to the wider Scottish culture, are also inspired by their own distinct Indian, Traveller and Irish cultural heritages. Through conversation and performance, they explore the necessity to pass down these stories in the oral form. Stories connect us across time and space, but is there a relevance for these ancient stories in modern times? Can these stories really heal the fractures in society? What lessons can gods, giants and fairies possibly teach us, and does believing in magic help build stronger communities? Introduced by Guest Curator Mara Menzies as part of The Power of Storytelling series of events.


From Page to Stage with Hannah Lavery and Dean Atta

  • Venue – The Students’ Union (Main Hall), Storie St, PA1 2HB
  • Date – 26th February at 6:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Book tickets

Words and stories move us! And they have multiple ways to be told. Join us for a fascinating insight into the mind of Edinburgh Makar and award-winning poet, playwright and performer Hannah Lavery, whose brand-new collection Blood Salt Spring has already been transformed into a live performance in a partnership between the National Theatre of Scotland and Push the Boat Out festival. Hannah is joined by poet and award-winning author of The Black Flamingo, Dean Atta, to explore how their words and ideas manifest differently from literary form to the performance space. How do immovable words forged onto paper become living, breathing entities that adapt to audiences and reside in the global consciousness? Introduced by Guest Curator Mara Menzies as part of The Power of Storytelling series of events.


The Sex Lives of African Women with Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

  • Venue – Online Event
  • Date – 25th February at 4:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Book tickets

Award-winning blogger and feminist activist Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is in conversation with performance storyteller and writer Mara Menzies to discuss the diverse experiences of black women and afro descendants living in the diaspora who feature in her book, The Sex Lives of African Women. Here we discover how Elizabeth navigates love and sex as a woman with a disability and hear of Fatou, a 60-year-old polyamorous woman from Senegal. From finding queer communities around the world, taboos around self-pleasure, to the role religion and spirituality can play in determining a woman’s right to sexual pleasure, these stories are rich, moving and courageous. They shine a light on the individual journeys of women attempting to discover the sensual and sexual part of themselves.

Part of The Power of Storytelling, a series of events curated by Mara Menzies.

Find out more about Paisley Book Festival 2022

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