We’ve sent five multi-talented and very different writers from Scotland on five extraordinary journeys across the Americas.
They are our Outriders.
Each will be joined by a fellow writer from the country being travelled.
Follow the story of their journeys here.
The political, the personal, truth and fiction collide to produce fresh new perspectives.
Writers contribute immeasurably to our understanding of the world and ourselves – they expose untold stories, draw connections, provoke, find truth and offer a new lens through which to view people, places and events.
Our five Outriders and their five travelling companions will appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August, in a series of discussions and a grand gala performance, which unveil and explore the new work that’s produced by the writers and inspired by their experiences.
Harry is an award-winning performer and poet who grew up in Orkney and lives in Edinburgh. Harry says: “I write in Scots and English, always playfully and joyfully, experimenting with words in ways that are accessible and that get into the knotty problems of the world. I'm fascinated by the way language makes the world, and shapes and is shaped by power, and the ways we find ways to resist through language. So when I'm travelling through Canada I'll be meeting writers and activists, particularly folk working with indigenous languages, to look at those contests. At a time when Scotland is re-examining its role in the world, I also think it’s vital for Scottish folk to look unflinchingly at our role in settler-colonialism, and so I'm hoping to tell some of those stories back to Scotland. I'll be travelling as far north as Churchill on Hudson Bay, where many men from Orkney worked in the early years of settler-colonisation - I've heard a lot about it from the Orkney perspective, but know things must look different looking back the other way. The journey will be a challenge - less about exploring, with all that word means, and more about how a different world can be spoken.”
Malachy is a writer and musician from Shetland who lives in Glasgow. Malachy says "My two previous books – Sixty Degrees North and The Un-Discovered Islands – have both explored ideas of place. I am fascinated by the stories we tell about places, and the way we feel about them. For my Outriders journey I will be travelling through the United States, from north to south, beginning in North Dakota and ending in Louisiana. I want to learn more about how some of the country's marginalised communities are responding to the changing political climate, and how a sense of place and belonging is helping to shape some of those changes."
Stef is an Olivier Award-winning playwright from a village near Stirling, Scotland, whose work examines both the lightness and darkness of life. Stef says: “I will explore borders, immigration and humanity. Ultimately for me it is about unearthing unheard stories and perspectives, going beyond the tired Hollywood narrative of people escaping poverty by heading to America. I will spend time talking, but mostly listening, to as many people as possible with the hope of looking beyond the headlines in a more informed way. During the journey I will maintain a daily blog, capture part of my travels on film and feed both into new and ongoing work about what it means to live in a world where sometimes the future can seem very bleak.”
Kevin is a novelist, poet, editor and screenwriter from the Outer Hebrides, now lecturing in creative writing at the University of Stirling. Kevin says: “My project consists of two main parts:
Robert Louis Stevenson: The Argentina Edition: The eminent Argentine authors Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares were fans of RLS (as am I). Indeed, they planned to create an anthology of their favourite RLS stories, essays and fables. That anthology, connecting three of the world’s greatest writers, has never been published…Until now. I am hoping to bring this book into existence at the Book Festival in August 2017. It reveals an intriguing bridge between Scotland’s literary heritage and Argentina’s, strengthening both.
A new novel: I am going to work on a novel about a woman who goes missing in the Scottish Highlands and turns up in Argentina, before disappearing again. The book will be about faith and how far the human mind will travel to convince itself that life has underlying meaning. Borges said that we are inveterate fictionalisers, that we need fiction to make sense of our lives. I am fascinated by the ways a novel either imposes meaning upon life…or reveals it. The plot will take direct inspiration from my physical journey and will explore how we understand narrative, time and truth. 'And UFOs.'"
Jenni is an award-winning novelist and poet, whose debut The Panopticon is being made into a film. Jenni says “The changes in our political, social and natural landscapes have never been more present or important. I will use this trip to connect with the vast array of people I’ll meet on the road, and to ask the question that underpins my work — what is truth? What are the truths of individuals, their inner lives and values, communities, traditions, peripheries? How do people define their own truth and create lives of depth while being confined by a value-based system created around falsehoods of wealth, power and dominance? It is the job of artists to seek truth without flinching but also to celebrate, protect and honour those uncovered truths – and to use them to create literature, generate debate and conversation and provide a connection for the communities and individuals encountered.”