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We are delighted to bring you this year's varied and exciting programme of events, taking place in The King's Pavilion, the University of Aberdeen's arts and music performance space, as well as other city venues, 19th-24th September 2023.  

All venues are accessible and BSL interpretation is available throughout the festival, with captions for online events.

This year's festival includes additional dates in Aberdeen city centre venues on 16th and 30th September (see below).

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Call out for young arts enthusiasts for WayWORD Festival 2024

What events do you want to see in next year's fantastic youth-led cross arts festival? Come along to meet others, generate ideas, and find out how you can make them happen as part of WayWORD 2024. Do you have ideas for writers, artforms, performers, creatives or topics which especially appeal to you, are innovative and/or not always taken seriously in 'mainstream' arts? 

Open to young people (ages 14-26) in North East Scotland as well as students (of any age) at University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, NESCol and other institutions in NE Scotland who might like to participate. Please therefore also share this message with anyone you know who may be interested. 

Nov 28 | 2pm | online

2023 Programme

Saturday
16th September

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Writing Character for the stage: Workshop with May Sumbwanyambe 

Understanding character is the starting point for all dramatic storytelling. Playwright May Sumbwanyambe offers the benefits of his experience and insight into creating effective characters for the stage in this one-off workshop for WayWORD in Aberdeen.

Sept 16 | 10.30am | Aberdeen Arts Centre

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Theatre & Disability Panel: Abigail Brydon, Robert Softley Gale, Suzanne Lofthus & Ian Manborde

Industry experts come together to answer questions and discuss challenges faced by disabled artists and performers.  Actors, policy makers, directors, producers, facilitators and educators will meet with the aim of tearing down barriers, encouraging more inclusivity and a new wave of disabled talent.

Sept 16 | 1pm | North East Scotland College 

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May Sumbwanyambe in conversation with Amy Liptrott

May Sumbwanyambe is a librettist, radio dramatist, academic and playwright from Edinburgh. For this year’s Day of Drama at WayWORD, May speaks to Aberdeen Arts Centre Director Amy Liptrott, about his own journey in and through theatre, and the rich and complex stories he most wants to tell.

Sept 16 | 3.30pm | Aberdeen Arts Centre

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Melody & Accompaniment Workshop with Brian Cromarty & Douglas Montgomery of Saltfishforty

Join Douglas and Brian of Saltfishforty for a workshop exploring the ways that melody and accompaniment complement one another and intertwine: bring any combination of your voice, ideas, instruments - or just yourself.

Sept 16 | 11am | King's Pavilion UoA

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Saltfishforty in Concert

Douglas Montgomery (fiddle/viola) and Brian Cromarty (songs/guitar/mandola) - jointly known as Orkney duo, Saltfishforty - combine the rich traditional music of Orkney with original compositions, as showcased to wide acclaim on their five albums: Bere (2017), LIVE (2013), Netherbow (2010), Orkney Twister (2005) and Goose Music (2003).

Sept 16 | Doors 7pm | King's Pavilion UoA

Tuesday
19th September

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When the World is not Watching Exhibition Opening

A poster and poetry installation exhibiting work by Clients, family and friends of people living with substance misuse. Produced by Leopard Arts in collaboration with Searchlight Scotland and Alcohol and Drugs Action, this exhibition provides an insight into the creative lives, feelings and experiences of the artists. 

Open 11am - 6pm daily | King's Pavilion UoA

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Sewing Witness: Student-made Chilean Textile Art

An exhibition of student-made arpilleras (pronounced ‘are-pea-air-uhs’) showing moments from Chilean and Mexican women’s history.  Arpilleras are a form of fabric tapestries, depicting scenes of everyday life, especially during the military dictatorship (1973-1990).

Open 11am - 6pm daily | King's Pavilion UoA

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Music & Words Workshop with John De Simone & Noon Salah Eldin

Bring your instrument and/or your poems! Join John De Simone and Noon Salah Eldin to explore how music and poetry combine. 

Sept 19 | 3pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Nadine Aisha Jassat & Alycia Pirmohamed 

A unique opportunity to hear critically-acclaimed, award-winning Scottish verse novelists and poets Nadine Aisha Jassat and Alycia Pirmohamed in conversation. While their writing is as distinctive as it is brilliant, Jassat’s and Pirmohamed’s works share common themes relating to heritage and ancestry, memory, and racial and national identity.

Sept 19 | 5pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Blue Lamp Evening of Dialect Delights

Join us in The Blue Lamp to enjoy an evening of poetic and musical dialect treats, from Shetland, Orkney and Aberdeenshire, including a world  première, with an array of performers: Carol Anderson, Sheena Blackhall, Christine De Luca, Gemma McGregor, Geordie Murison, Hannah Nicholson and Outwith Ensemble.

Sept 19 | Doors 7.30pm | The Blue Lamp

Wednesday
20th September

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Digital Animation: Introduction to Blender with Cameron Lawie

Learn about the uses of 3D software Blender in this live talk and demonstration with Cameron Lawie, the artist behind WayWORD's animations. Exploring digital animation, sculpting and 3D printing.

Sept 20 | 10.30am | King's Pavilion UoA

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Drag, Community, and Queer Joy

Join local drag performers, Sleepy and Cadenza, for a talk about the Aberdeen drag scene, the creation of LGBTQ+ communities, and queer joy. The event will feature a drag performance from both Sleepy and Cadenza.

Sept 20 | 1pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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#PrecarityStory Documentary Screening and Q&A with Film-maker Isabel Seguí

Made in the context of the 2018-2020 industrial actions in the United Kingdom, #Precarity Story (2020), an activist documentary by Isabel Seguí and Lorena Cervera, is every bit as relevant today. Watch the unfolding of a day in the life of a precariously employed academic and cleaner. Q&A with Isabel to follow.

Sept 20 | 3pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Colin MacIntyre & Alan Warner

Colin MacIntyre and Alan Warner talk about musical collaboration and their latest books. Colin’s new Mull Historical Society album, In My Mind There’s A Room, features an all-star cast of Colin’s favourite authors, including Alan Warner, who will also be launching his latest novella, Nothing Left to Fear from Hell.

Sept 20 | 5pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Claire Keegan

Booker-shortlisted Irish novelist, Claire Keegan, is an undisputed master of the novella and the most accomplished writer of short fiction working today. Her work has won numerous awards and is translated into more than thirty languages. Join her in conversation with Wayne Price.

Sept 20 | 7pm | Live Online

Thursday
21st September

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Queer tongues writing workshop with Fer Boyd and Madeline Stack

What imaginary community can we gather around us when writing about labyrinthine identities and kaleidoscopic feelings? This workshop led by authors Fer Boyd and Madeleine Stack will offer a new toolkit for creative writing, focusing on how we might explore genders and identities through surreal bodies, casts of characters in conversation, and many-tongued mascots.

Sept 21 | 11am | King's Pavilion UoA

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Scots Song Workshop with Geordie Murison 

Come along to this friendly and enjoyable workshop to learn some traditional Scots songs from a master of the ballad, North-East singer and Bothy Ballad Champion, Geordie Murison. All welcome.

Sept 21 | 1pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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& Graham Cooper (Gaelic Event)  

Join two fascinating Gaelic writers for this bi-lingual event: Calum L. MacLeoid’s debut play Stornoway Quebec is a Gaelic Western rooted in a settlement midway between Montreal and Quebec City, while Graham Cooper’s second novel is set in 1513, in the months before the Battle of Flodden. You do not need to be a Gaelic speaker to attend.

Sept 21 | 3pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Deborah Masson & Vikki Patis

Join Aberdonian crime novelist, Deborah Masson, and Scotland-based suspense author, Vikki Patis, talking about their latest books, and their journeys to becoming two of today’s most exciting and acclaimed writers of dark and compelling page-turners.

Sept 21 | 5pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Michael Pedersen & Sean Wai Keung

Share an evening with compelling, award-winning writers Michael Pedersen and Sean Wai Keung as they read from and talk about their work. Sean’s latest book of poetry is sikfan glaschu which The Scotsman described as “joyful, earnest and funny,” while Michael’s hugely acclaimed memoir Boy Friends is now accompanied by his latest collection The Cat Prince and Other Poems.

Sept 21 | 7pm | King's Pavilion UoA

Friday
22nd September

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Be Inspired by Science: Writing Workshop

Be inspired by science in this creative writing workshop with speculative fiction writer Jane Alexander.
In this workshop, we’ll explore how science and technology can spark inspiration for writing fiction.
Suitable for beginners as well as those with some experience of writing fiction.

Sept 22 | 10.30am | King's Pavilion UoA

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Toulmin Prize with Sheena Blackhall

In honour of Aberdeenshire writer David Toulmin (John Reid, 1913–98), the Toulmin Prize writing competition is sponsored by the Reid family and held annually by the Elphinstone Institute. Join us for this appreciation of North-East writing with 2023's winning stories  read aloud by North-East Makar, Sheena Blackhall.

Sept 22 | 12pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Pop-up: The Cost of Warmth film Screening and Q&A

Made by Community TV volunteers at Station House Media Unit, The Cost of Warmth, examines the reality of having to choose between eating and heating in one of the UK's wealthiest cities.

Sept 22 | 1.15pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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(Auto)Biography with Chitra Ramaswamy 

Is the best biography one that acknowledges the writer’s own life in the process? Author and journalist Chitra Ramaswamy talks about her friendship with Holocaust survivor Henry Wuga and the extraordinary memoir Homelands which grew from it.

Sept 22 | 2pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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From Sci-Fi to Speculative Fiction: Jane Alexander & Nina Allan

Are the frightening effects of virtual reality already here? Are aliens speaking to a young man through Bach’s Goldberg Variations? There’s only one way to find out. Join writers Jane Alexander and Nina Allan to discuss their latest work, set in an almost recognisable Scotland and elsewhere (other planets are available).

Sept 22 | 3.30pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Kathleen Murray & Arun Sood

Kathleen Murray, The Deadwood Encore (2022), and Arun Sood, New Skin For The Old Ceremony: A Kirtan (2022), treat WayWORD to a session of shared insight into the world of twenty-first century authorship. Join Kathleen and Arun for an evening of stories, readings and discussion around their debut novels.

Sept 22 | 5.30pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Whale Songs: Poetry, Music & Film with Lesley Harrison, Alex South & Katherine Wren

Cetacea and The Voyage of the Fox are two poem sequences with music and film, created and performed by poet Lesley Harrison, clarinettist and improviser Alex South, and violist and composer Katherine Wren. These thrilling pieces explore whale song, the aftermath of the whaling industry and the cultures of the North Atlantic.

Sept 22 | 7pm | King's Pavilion UoA

Saturday
23rd September

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How-to-Write-a-Manifesto Workshop

Join Koshka Duff and Chris Rossdale for a madcap ride through the manifestos of the past and set out your visions for the future. Green revolution? Broadband communism? Beyoncé for President? In this practical workshop, learn to manifest your opinions in the ultimate form no-one can ignore!

Sept 23 | 10am | King's Pavilion UoA

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Scots Scriever Shane Strachan with Ellie Beaton

Local loon Shane Strachan is the National Library of Scotland’s Scots Scriever, creating new work in response to the nation’s Doric archives. Shane will perform his latest fiction, responding to the 18th C. North-East ballad repertoire of Anna Gordon Brown, with live singing from Ellie Beaton.

Sept 23 | 12pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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‘Wokery Gone Mad’: Culture Wars with Timothy C. Baker

Did Prof. Timothy C. Baker REALLY put a 'trigger warning' on Peter Pan? If so, why would he do that? What's the matter with 'young people today'? Surely, they don't need to be 'coddled' and literature doesn't need to be 'censored' like this? Come see these issues constructively debated and reflected on by thoughtful and well-informed people: Timothy C. Baker, Press & Journal news editor Rebecca Buchan, and Strathclyde academic and writer on the 'culture wars,' Karen Boyle. 

Sept 23 | 1.30pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Pop-Up première with Fusion Dance

Don’t miss this WayWORD contemporary dance première with choreography by Taylor Han and performed by the young dancers of Fusion. Followed by Q&A with the creatives.

Sept 23 | 2.45pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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A Nan Shepherd Journey with Sophia McLean

Conversation and Q&A with actor Sophia McLean, who portrayed Nan Shepherd in a recent spoken word dramatisation for Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Speaking to Arts Centre Director Amy Liptrott, Sophia will perform some extracts, discuss feminism in Nan’s work and investigate how The Living Mountain can be applied to surviving the current environment crisis. 

Sept 23 | 3.30pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Pop-up Performance by Harpist Nadine Ralston

Pop-up Performance by young Aberdeen harpist Nadine Ralston. An Aberdeen City Music School pupil and Scottish Young Solo Musician of the Year finalist, Nadine likes to play a variety of musical genres whether traditional, classical or modern. Don’t miss this chance to hear her.

Sept 23 | 4.45pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Andrés N. Ordorica & Alan Spence

Award-winning poet, novelist and playwright Alan Spence appears with queer latinx poet, writer and educator Andrés N. Ordorica. Alan will be launching his new novel Mister Timeless Blyth based on the life of Zen and Haiku pioneer Reginald Blyth. Andres N. Ordorica’s collection, At Least This I Know, draws on his family’s immigrant history and his own third culture upbringing. 

Sept 23 | 5.30pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Centre for the Novel hosts Liam McIlvanney

Centre for the Novel is proud to partner with WayWORD in hosting Liam McIlvanney in this year’s Annual Public Literary Event. Don’t miss this chance to hear one of the great Scottish crime writers, on literature, crime fiction, and his own work, including Tartan Noir masterpieces The Quaker and its recent sequel The Heretic. 

Sept 23 | 7pm | King's Pavilion UoA

2023 Committee

Sunday
24th September

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Let's Dance Workshop: Enjoy Movement and Make your own Choreography

Let's Dance! A movement workshop suitable for all ages, bodies and dance experiences. Together we will move, explore choreographic techniques used to create dance and have the opportunity to create our own dances. Everyone is welcome!

Sept 24 | 10.30am | King's Pavilion UoA

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Dystopia or Reality? - Rachelle Atalla & Cailean Steed

Two Aberdeen graduates discuss their thrilling dystopic novels which may be closer to our reality than we think... Rachelle Atalla’s Thirsty Animals imagines what would happen at the Anglo-Scottish border if our water supply ran out, while the protagonist of Cailean Steed’s Home returns to a gender-segregated cult to save their sister.

Sept 24 | 1pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Pop-up Performance by Syrian Singers Kinda Samara & Ali Al Daioub

Hear Kinda Samara and Ali Al Daioub perform some of the beautiful songs of Syria and Iraq in this rare pop-up performance together. 

Sept 24 | 2.15pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Comedian Aidan Greene in Conversation

Aidan Greene is undoubtedly Ireland’s foremost stammering comedian. Since stuttering his way into comedy in 2010 he’s become a regular headliner in comedy clubs across Ireland. He joins WayWORD to discuss his work as a standup, writing comedy, and storytelling.  

Sept 24 | 3pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Pop-up Performance by Syrian Singers Kinda Samara & Ali Al Daioub

Don’t miss this chance to hear Kinda Samara and Ali Al Daioub perform some of the beautiful songs of Syria and Iraq in this second pop-up performance especially for WayWORD. 

Sept 24 | 4.30pm | King's Pavilion UoA

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Kathleen Jamie

Scotland’s Makar Kathleen Jamie returns to Aberdeen for this headline event of WayWORD 2023. Join Kathleen for an evening of poetry, reading and discussion around the bringing of ‘one word, one sound, against another’. Kathleen will be in conversation with fellow poet, writer, and former Edinburgh Makar, Alan Spence.

Sept 24 | 5.30pm | King's Pavilion UoA

Robin Gillanders

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Wavelengths: Leopard Arts showcase of disabled and neurodiverse performers 

Disabled and neurodiverse creatives from North-East Scotland perform their work in a showcase curated by Leopard Arts, with a headline comedy set from Irish comedian Aidan Greene. Poetry, prose, and comedy from some of the most striking voices in Scotland.

Sept 24 | Doors 7.30pm | The Blue Lamp

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Saturday
30th September

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Rare Beasts o Scotland: kids storytelling and craft workshops with Doric Books

Join Aaron Gale and Jackie Ross from Doric Books to hear tales of some of Scotland's rare animals. This family session will include tales of flapper skates, wildcats, bees and other endangered Scottish wildlife. Listen to the stories then create a mask of your favourite animal.

Sept 30 | 11am & 12 noon | Aberdeen Music Hall

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Aberdeen Women’s Alliance 'Bringing Life to Aberdeen' Walking Tour, Talk & Book Launch

Aberdeen Women's Alliance lead a walking tour and talk exploring the history uncovered in their new book about Aberdeen maternity services, Bringing Life to Aberdeen. 

11.30am Walk & 1pm Talk

Sept 30 | Aberdeen Music Hall

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From Page to Wave: Audio Book Adaptation Behind the Scenes

May Toudic, Drew Frankie Victorie and Megan John will take the audience behind the scenes of adapting a novel into an audio drama series and treat them to a live performance of scenes from Murray Mysteries and Morland P.I.

Sept 30 | 3pm | Aberdeen Central Library

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ACE Voices Intergenerational Choir

Don’t miss this performance by Aberdeen’s own intergenerational choral group, whose members currently range from 0 to about 80, and formed on the basis that ‘Everyone can sing, everyone is musical, and everyone has a voice worth hearing.’

Sept 30 | 4.15pm | Aberdeen Music Hall 

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Nan Shepherd Event: A Cairngorms Journey with Merryn Glover

Merryn Glover, award winning writer and the first Writer in Residence for Cairngorms National Park, in conversation with Alison Lumsden about her newest book, The Hidden Fires: A Cairngorms Journey with Nan Shepherd. Separated by time but unified by space and purpose, Glover follows in Nan's footsteps.

Sept 30 | 5pm | Aberdeen Music Hall

Other community events

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Skateboobs: Skateboarding and tshirt making workshop

Skateboobs, the female, non-binary and queer skateboarding collective, are running a workshop in Aberdeen! Free to all and brought to you by WayWORD Festival, the workshop will combine a beginner friendly skateboarding lesson with a t-shirt making workshop. No experience or equipment needed

Oct 22 | 11am | Sunnybank park

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Barbara Henderson 

Award winning children’s author Barbara Henderson, the Writer-in-Residence at the iconic Forth Bridge, visits Riverbank School. Her eight books, history and adventure led, will keep the children enthralled, with tales of smuggling, a dancing bear, and a 12 year old boy who worked on building the Forth Bridge.

Riverbank Primary School | Weds Sept 13

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St Machar Academy workshops

Fun interactive writing workshops for pupils from St Machar Academy with Nadine Aisha Jassat, Noon Salah Eldin & Bethany Rose

 Tues 19th Sept | 11am - 1pm | King's Pavilion

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Syrian Cookery Workshop & Cookbook Launch

Come along for some friendly chat about food, hospitality and food sustainability, together with some tasty Syrian treats. 

 Date and time TBA | The Mission Church

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Nan Shepherd Event: Walking Women with Kerri Andrews 

WayWORD Festival celebrates Book Week Scotland with writer, walker and academic Kerri Andrews. WANDERERS: A HISTORY OF WOMEN WALKING is a book about ten women who, over the past three hundred years, have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers. Kerri is currently editing Nan Shepherd's letters, the first ever edition of Shepherd's, to be published in 2023 by Edinburgh University Press

Nov 15 | 5.30pm | Sir Duncan Rice Library

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