Big Lit was a big success
“A rip-roaring success” was how BIG LIT: The Stewartry Book Festival artistic director Chrys Salt described the fiveday event, which concluded on Sunday.
Five bumper days saw Gatehouse of Fleet and Kirkcudbright host an explosion of all things literary - poetry, launches, prose, song, history and workshops.
Politics and cabaret added to the mix with a children’s programme of puppetry, magical time travel, folk tale and madcappery entertaining around 350 young people.
Ms Salt was thrilled at how the BIG LIT continues to broaden its appeal.
“Many folk said it was the best one yet,” she told the News. “It has been an absolute blast. “If you build it they will come.” Among many memorable moments one stood out as a measure of how art has the ability to light up the lives of everyone.
Ms Salt said: “One little girl who was slightly autistic had been silent for most of the year, according to the teacher accompanying her.
“But in the puppet show she threw her arms up in the air at the end and shouted “hurray!”
“Just to see that happen made all of it worth doing.”
Multi-award winning novelist, Bernard MacLaverty in conversation with poet Tom Pow, the familiar face of BBC health editor Hugh Pym on how The Church of Scotland supported 50,000 WW1 soldiers, poet Adrian Mitchell’s daughter Sasha with musician Pete Moser with a fabulous Cabaret of her dad’s poems and songs, all featured in BIG LIT’s rich and varied programme.
And poet Brian Johnstone with DJ John Cavanagh spinning the discs of the pop and rock of the 50’s 60’s and 70’s and a powerful rendition of Beckett by fine actor/broadcaster Peter Marinker held folk’s rapt attention.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s story and the ever topical issue of climate change were themes that ran through the fabric of this year’s festival, from Muriel Spark to a celebration of Scotland’s women; from ‘green lines’ hung from Poetrees to Cairn Chorus’ brand new programme reflecting the challenges and successes of the natural world.
Ms Salt added: “BIG LIT’s brief is to bring together local talent with writers and performers from the Central Belt and across the Border.
“Thanks to generous funding from the Regional Arts Fund, The Holywood Trust and other organisations, local businesses and private donations we were able to attract some starry folk to the region.”