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A student and youth-led cross-arts festival exploring unconventional forms of expression
University of Aberdeen
WORD Centre for Creative Writing
We are delighted to bring you this year's varied and exciting programme, with most in-person events held in the University of Aberdeen arts and music performance space, King's Pavilion. There are also some online and livestreamed offerings, for those unable to join us in situ.
All venues are accessible and BSL interpretation is available throughout the festival, with captions for online events.
This year's festival includes a substantial Community strand with workshops running in Aberdeen city and shire venues from 17th September to 2nd October, most of which are open to the wider public (see the Community Events Programme).
We will be returning with a festival in 2023. Please sign up to our mailing list on the About page to stay in the loop.
Book Launch: Leila Aboulela's River Spirit
6:30 pm Tuesday 14th March 2023, Sir Duncan Rice Library, UoA Campus
Book launch for the much awaited sixth novel by Leila Aboulela, River Spirit. Join Honourary Professor of the WORD Centre Leila Aboulela for the Aberdeen Launch of River Spirit, a spellbinding new novel about an embattled young woman in the years leading up to the British conquest of Sudan. Chaired by Professor Nadia Kiwan.
Tuesday 20th September
Tuesday 20th September
Book Launch: David Wheatley Stretto
5:30 - 6:30 pm Tuesday 20th September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Join us for a special event to celebrate David Wheatley’s first novel, Stretto, a deft exploration at a time when perhaps fewer risks than ever are being taken with the fictional form. David’s interest in the French Nouveau Roman fuses with a story of travel and migration over twenty years, moving between Ireland, England and Scotland.
Douglas Stuart in conversation with Alan Warner
7:30 - 8:30 pm Tuesday 20th September, Online
Scottish-American novelist and fashion designer, Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize with Shuggie Bain in 2020. His second novel, Young Mungo, has become an instant bestseller on publication this year. He talks to novelist Alan Warner about writing, transatlantic life, class, gender and much more.
Wednesday 21st September
Wednesday 21st September
Songwriting Workshop with Chamber Music Scotland
10.30am-12pm Wednesday 21st September, King's Studio, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
In this practical, interactive workshop aspiring songwriters will have the opportunity to work with composer Gareth Williams and singer Cameron Nixon to create brand-new songs of their own. Gareth and Cameron will guide participants through the session, and share ideas and tips about the songwriting process.
Performing Identities Panel: Aiberdeen Mannie and Celia Toks
1-2pm Wednesday 21st September, Online
Join our panel discussion online, exploring the use of social media platforms for self-expression and the performance of identities and cultures, with artists Celia @celiatoks and Aiberdeen Mannie @aiberdeenmannie, who have both found success as ‘internet celebrities’ through their content on TikTok and Instagram.
Art, Memory & Displacement with
Libertad Ansola Palazuelos and Enxhi Mandija
Libertad Ansola Palazuelos and Enxhi Mandija create a dialogue across words and images exploring the relationship between imagination, memory, art and writing, the ways different art forms combine to generate new stories: a conversation with readings, chaired by Wayne Price. Their work will be exhibited in King’s Pavilion throughout the festival.
3:30-4:30pm Wednesday 21st September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
North-East Writers & Chamber Music Scotland
8-10:30pm (Doors open 7:30) Wednesday 21st September, The Blue Lamp
An evening of performances from traditional singer Cameron Nixon and a host of weel-kent NE writers and spoken word performers: Sahar Abdulla, Sheena Blackhall, Jo Gilbert and Shane Strachan, followed by Songs from the Last Page, a live music performance from Gareth Williams and musicians from Chamber Music Scotland, compèred by Mae Diansangu.
Thursday 22nd September
Thursday 22nd September
Writing Landscape & Place Workshop with Ian Grosz
11am-12pm Thursday 22nd September, King's Studio, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
What role does place play in our lives and how can we approach the landscape to make it a focus for our writing? This one-hour workshop, led by Ian Grosz, will attempt the beginnings of an answer to this question. No prior experience is required other than an interest in creative writing, the landscape and the ways in which places help shape our lives.
Fan Fiction Panel: Judith Fathallah, MandalaRose and Katie Rathfelder
1-2pm Thursday 22nd September, Online
Join us for an online discussion of all things fanfiction, including fanfiction in academia, the jump to publishing, the collaborative aspect of fanfiction-writing, fanfiction as representation, and more!
ArteEast: Sherko Abbas and Afsoon
3:30-4:30pm Thursday 22nd September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Join Kurdish-Iraqi artist Sherko Abbas and Iranian-born, London-based artist Afsoon to learn about their practice and experience some of their work. WayWORD teams up with ArteEast’s Nathaniel Bowditch and Peacock & the worm’s Enxhi Mandija to showcase the work of two exciting visual artists.
Wanderlust Women featuring Lesley Benzie and Noon Salah Eldin
5:30-6:30pm Thursday 22nd September, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Join three Wanderlust Women Lesley Benzie, Donna Campbell and Linda Jackson, together with Wander-in woman and guest artist Noon Salah Eldin, for a poetic exploration of travel in all its forms, geographical, mental, spiritual, political and imaginative.
Jenny Colgan & Bee Asha Singh
7-8pm Thursday 22nd September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Why IS romantic fiction still marginalized within the ‘literary’ world in some ways? Join Jenny Colgan, best-selling author and Scottish Queen of Romantic Fiction, and Spoken Word artist Bee Asha Singh, who explores lived experience, sexuality, trauma and gender equality in a style between poetry and rap.
Friday 23rd September
Friday 23rd September
Writing About Mental Health Workshop with Helen Taylor
11am-12pm Friday 23rd September, King's Studio, King's Pavilion, UOA Campus
Join novelist and essayist, Helen Taylor for a workshop exploring the challenges and benefits of writing about our own mental health experiences. Is autobiography, life-writing, memoir, the way to go, or is it sometimes easier to write about mental health – your own or that of people close to you - in a fictional setting?
Book Launch: Rachelle Atalla The Pharmacist
1-2pm Friday 23rd September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Join us to celebrate Rachelle Atalla’s debut novel, The Pharmacist. Set in a dramatically oppressive, post-apocalyptic underground bunker where Wolfe is the resident pharmacist, tending to desperate needs and embroiled in dark power struggles, this is a captivating work. The Pharmacist examines motherhood, morality (or the loss of it), power struggles, love and desperation.
Christopher Brookmyre at Aberdeen Central Library
NOW 3-4pm, Thursday 6th October, Aberdeen Central Library
One hen weekend, seven secrets…but only one worth killing for. Join the ever-ebullient Chris Brookmyre in the surroundings of Aberdeen Central Library, to celebrate his new novel, The Cliff House. A private island, a luxury getaway. They are alone. They think.
CHANGE OF DATE & TIME
5:30-6:30pm Friday 23rd September, Online
Are friendships the greatest love affairs of our lives? And why is it that boys don’t hold hands? Award-winning poet Michael Pedersen talks about his prose debut, Boy Friends, an intimate memoir and moving tribute to Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison, who took his own life in 2018. This event includes a live Q&A with Michael.
7-8pm Friday 23rd September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Award-winning poet, playwright, novelist and short story writer, former Professor of Creative Writing at Aberdeen, Edinburgh Makar and WORD Festival Impresario, Alan Spence talks to Helen Lynch about his latest work, including a new haiku collection and a novel exploring Japanese cultural history, Mr Timeless Blyth.
Saturday 24th September
Saturday 24th September
Scottish Contemporary Drama: Debbie Hannan in conversation with Lucy Hinnie
1-2pm Saturday 24th September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Newly-appointed Associate Artist and Director at the National Theatre of Scotland, and recent Acting Artistic Director at Stockroom, Debbie Hannan shares their work and talks about their practice and experiences developing new drama for stage and screen with polymath scholar, editor and improv comedian fae Huntly, Lucy Hinnie.
12.30 & 3pm Saturday 24th September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Performed by North-East writer Shane Strachan and Cellist Emily De Simone, Doric Dwams was composed by Aileen Sweeney, based on Shane’s haiku, savouring the distinctive sound and quality of place and dialect. Don’t miss the chance to catch these brief, pop-up performances for spoken word and cello.
Tattered Memory: Memoir with Timothy C. Baker and Helen Taylor
3:30-4:30pm Saturday 24th September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Authors of recent memoirs, Professor Timothy C. Baker and Dr Helen Taylor, discuss how to tell a life-story when your memory is in tatters or there are no records of the story you want to tell.
Centre for the Novel: C.J. Cooke
7-8pm Saturday 24th September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Hear about C. J. Cooke’s most recent novel, The Lighthouse Witches, a haunting tale of mystery, history and witchcraft, set on a remote Scottish island. Hosted by the University of Aberdeen Centre for the Novel.
Sunday 25th September
Sunday 25th September
Gaelic Song Workshop with Eva Brownlie
10:30am-12pm Sunday 25th September, King’s Studio, King's Pavilion, UoA Campus
Learn some Gaelic Songs with accomplished Gaelic singer Eva Brownlie. Beginners welcome. This event is brought to you in partnership with Scottish Culture and Traditions Associations’ SC&T Youth.
Queer Horror Panel: Ever Dundas, Bibi June and Jonny Sims
1-2pm Sunday 25th September, King's College Conference Centre, UOA Campus
What makes for queer horror? Join award-winning creators Jonathan Sims, writer and narrator of horror fiction podcast The Magnus Archives, Bibi June, co-creator of queer horror podcast Folxlore, and horror and sci-fi novelist, Ever Dundas, author of Goblin, and forthcoming HellSans, as we discuss what makes queer horror what it is.
Singing Workshop with Polish-Scottish Song Group
1-2pm Sunday 25th September, King's Studio, Kings Pavilion, UoA Campus
You don’t have to be Scottish or Polish to come along to this fun singing session led by well-known North-East singer and tradition bearer Janice Reavell together with the Polish-Scottish Singing Group. Learn some new traditional songs and meet some new people in a friendly atmosphere.
Nan Shepherd Event: Sarah Thomas and Esther Woolfson
5:30-6:30pm Sunday 25th September, Main Hall, King's Pavilion UOA Campus
Writing in the tradition of Nan Shepherd while bringing new insights into the connection between people and place, Sarah Thomas and Esther Woolfson explore our relationships with animals and environments. This conversation combines science, nature writing, and memoir to discuss everything from ravens to spiders, and Iceland to Aberdeen.
These events are running in throughout the festival in conjunction with local community groups
Concrete Poetry & Letterpress Workshop
10am-1pm BST Saturday 17th September, The Worm, 11 Castle Street, AB11 5BQ
Try your hand at letterpress printing to create a collaborative concrete poem with printmaker Neil Corall and writer Enxhi Mandija at Peacock: a workshop for art. Tickets for this event are limited with a waitlist.
The Space Between the Panels - Comic Book Workshop
2:30-4pm BST Saturday 17th September, Crafty Cafe, Kintore, AB51 0UA
Join comic creators Dr Ewen Cameron Millar and Chris Robertson as they talk about life in the trenches making comics for the small press. Get involved with brainstorming ideas and getting started in the wild and quixotic world of sequential comic art. Minimum age 12 years.
Children's Poetry Workshop with Matt Kinghorn
Tuesday 20th September, Riverbank Primary School (not open to public)
Poet and co-creator of young children’s classic Dreams Can Come Moo, Matt Kinghorn will be giving a storytelling and poetry workshop for Primary Twos at Riverbank Primary to get them creating some poems and stories of their own.
Comic Creators Assemble: Workshop at Airyhall Library
Friday 23rd September 1.30 -3pm BST, Airyhall Library, AB15 7RF
Explore the different ways comics tell stories and then create your own comic, cram packed with your own amazing characters having fantastic adventures, all with the help of author, storyteller and comic writer Paul Bristow. Aimed at 8-12 year-olds.
Words, Images & the Deeper Self: therapeutic photography and poetry workshop
1- 3 pm BST Sunday 2nd October 2022, Aberdeen Art Gallery
A picture is worth 1000 words…but why should photography and language be separated? When combined, they can reveal truths and help us make sense of the world around us. How can we use photography in a therapeutic way, and can linking words and images explore feelings and enhance creativity?
Throughout 2022 we have been working with
Hazlehead Academy on devising events for young people
Thursday 22nd September (livestreamed on Instagram)
‘Queer elder entie’ and Glaswegian writer Maya MacGregor discusses queerness and autism in their thrilling young adult debut, The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester. Sam Sylvester’s gripping unravelling of a 30-year-old murder mystery offers readers a beautiful vision of love and uniqueness.
Art for Life
Monday 15th September 2022 (not open to public)
A number of local practitioners will showcase their varied artistic mediums in this one-off event, hosted by WayWORD’s Youth Committee at Hazlehead Academy. Celebrating different creatures, this event for young people will develop passion and creativity in exciting and interactive workshops.
Love For All
Tuesday 16th & Wednesday 17th September (not open to public)
WayWORD’s Youth Committee at Hazlehead Academy are hosting workshops for local primary school children, with the theme of inclusion at their heart. Celebrating the joys of stories, friendship and creativity, these events for little ones will explore and promote acceptance and love in all its forms.
Equality Alliance: Love Wins w/ Outlines
February 2022 - LGBT History Month
Working with Outlines Collective, pupils from Hazlehead Academy Equality Alliance learned about Art and Activism to devise their own permenant graffiti mural on school premises. Researched, designed and painted by Equality Alliance members and Outlines Collective.