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University of Aberdeen celebrates the written word with five-day extravaganza

Readings by renowned Scottish writers, a performance of Frankenstein and an evening of football haiku will kick off the University of Aberdeen’s second writer’s festival, which starts in the city tomorrow (Wednesday, May 16).

The five-day WORD 2001 event follows on the success of the University’s first festival, which was held in May 1999, and promises to be Scotland’s largest literary event outside the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Featuring more than 30 writers and artists from throughout Scotland and Ireland, including William McIlvanney, Alasdair Gray, Bernard MacLaverty, Liz Lochhead and Tom Leonard, the programme will have something for everyone, from readings in bookshops and libraries, film screenings and readings at Aberdeen’s new art house cinema, The Belmont, and children’s theatre.

Wednesday’s programme is as follows:

All day:      Travelling Gallery              Banchory Academy
10am:         Into the West, starring Gabriel Byrne S1-3 pupils          The Belmont
Midday:     Reading by Joan Lingard             The Belmont
10am:        Frankenstein by Catherine Wheels Co           The Lemon Tree
1pm:          Workshop by Tom McGrath for school pupils          The Lemon Tree
2pm:          Reading by Sheena Blackhall            Banchory Academy
2pm:          Reading by Joan Lingard             Hazlehead Academy
7pm:          Frankenstein by Catherine Wheels Co           The Lemon Tree
7pm:          New Voices University Creative Writing Society          King’s College
7pm:          That Gemmill Goal An evening of football haiku and related work by Alec Finlay and friends       Peacock Gallery

The first Word festival, held in Aberdeen in 1999, was a highly successful event with hundreds of local people attending the many readings, music and word events, lectures and workshops. The Scotsman described it as ‘the largest, and most impressive literary event ever held in Aberdeen’.

This year, the festival has the very great honour of welcoming as its patrons the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney, and Edwin Morgan, regarded by many as Scotland’s greatest living poet. Seamus Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 ‘for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past’ officially launched WORD 2001 in February when he visited the University. Edwin Morgan was the joint winner of the 1998 Stakis Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year with his latest book of poems, Virtual and Other Realities. In 1999, his performance in Planet Wave with Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra as part of the Word ’99 Festival completely packed out the Lemon Tree.

The festival is supported by the Scottish Arts Council National Lottery, Aberdeen City Council, First Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire Council, the Belmont and the Lemon Tree, as well as local Aberdeen bookshops.

A full programme for WORD 2001 can be obtained by subscribing to the mailing list online at, or by telephone (01224) 272078. Further information from Alison Ramsay on (01224) 273778, or Angela Begg on (01224) 272960.


Issued by Public Relations Office, External Relations, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen, telephone: 01224 272014, fax: 01224 272086.

University Press Office on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email