For August, SYP Scotland wanted to get into the festival spirit. As if the thousands of events in Edinburgh across August wasn’t enough, and hundreds dedicated to books and authors, we wanted to throw one last one. So we went Down the Rabbit Hole at the Mad Hatter for a night of live narrative non-fiction, or as we call it: live life.
We won’t spoil too much for you with a point by point breakdown of the performances, but we’ll give you a flavour and then you can watch them all for yourselves, which we absolutely recommend that you do.
Matt Macdonald opens with the weight of numbers, and why he became a poet who talks so openly about mental health. Through mathematical nuances to some frank and dark moments, Matt takes the room on a journey into his life, struggles, and quest to make the number one much larger.
Matt Macdonald has been performing across the UK and the US and is an award winning, multi-slam winning performance poet, who has performed in the PBH Free Fringe the last five years. His debut pamphlet Who Are Your People? was released by Red Squirrel Press in July 2014 and he is working on his debut full-length collection, to be published in 2017. He regular performs across Edinburgh, and you can find more of his work on his site and at @MattMacPoet.
Angela Hughes and Paul Docherty
Angela Hughes and Paul Docherty follow with a musical backdrop, detailing Angela’s own experiences getting a heart transplant. We see the worry, the fear, the ideas that you would never consider – that you’re waiting for someone to die before you do – through to the simple dreams, and dynamics on a relationship going through the process.
Angela Hughes and Paul Docherty met in 2011 on the MLitt in Creative Writing at Stirling. Between them they’ve been published in several literary journals and anthologies from New Writing Scotland to Causeway and The Grind. In December 2013, their lives were interrupted when Angela was listed for an urgent heart transplant, which she received on Christmas Day.
Angela’s first book, My Heart’s Content, tells the story of her time waiting for a new heart. She won the Moniack Mhor Work in Progress grant, had an extract of the book published in the Next Review, performed part of it at the Speakeasy in Edinburgh and read at the Ullapool Book Festival.
In a previous life, Paul was a professional guitarist, recording and touring the world with Glasgow band the Cosmic Rough Riders. He’s now in the final stages of a PhD in Publishing and Cultural Policy. Earlier this year, they were both invited to take part in a collaborative music and spoken word event in Stirling. The result was a performance combining extracts from Angela’s book with an atmospheric soundtrack and original song from Paul. Find them at @readwritecity and @angelahughesdoc
We close the evening with Mary Paulson-Ellis, author of The Other Mrs Walker. Her book is about an old woman who is found dead in her flat with no next of kin, and she details one strand of her research in how you track down people’s pasts, the idea of dying alone being the worst thing imaginable, but how she feels very differently after the research her book took her own.
Mary Paulson-Ellis is a writer based in Edinburgh. Her first novel, The Other Mrs Walker (Mantle/Pan Macmillan 2016) has been nominated for the Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University and on graduating was awarded the inaugural Curtis Brown Prize for Fiction. In 2011 she won the Maverick Award from the Tom McGrath Trust and in 2013 was awarded the Literature Works First Page Prize. She is a Brownsbank and a Hawthornden Fellow.
Mary has worked previously as a script editor, mentor, teaching artist and in arts management for organisations including BBC Scotland, Stellar Quines Theatre Company, the National Galleries of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Festival. Find more about Mary on on her website and at @mspaulsonellis.
The evening was an astounding look inside real stories, that worked out to have a linear thread joining them together – we’d like to take credit for that, but it’s perhaps more serendipity. Real stories are powerful, they’re also wonderful to hear, and we hope that this isn’t the last time we see events like this in Edinburgh.