writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Category Archives: writers’ bloc

Virtual Fringe 2013: beautiful plumage!

August is a strange time of year for indigenous Edinburgh performers. Their normal habitats are invaded by bright-coloured, exotic species from England and elsewhere, squawking and preening in huge numbers, making it hard to catch the amount of audience attention the natives need to keep going through such lean times.

There are two survival methods. One is to burrow underground (the Cowgate, for example) and see out the month living off the reflected glory of these noisy incomers; the other is to dust down one’s own feathers, spread one’s wings, and squawk with the best of them.

In common with last year, I intend to do a bit of both. I have the (still press-embargoed) Bloc show (or is it a Bloc show?) on 14th August; I’m also planning to record another audio version of an RLS short story for release in August (see the RLS page).

Other than that, I intend mainly to go to, and enjoy, a variety of Fringe and Book Festival events. So far I’ve signed up to an eclectic mix, bearing in mind these may not all be my first choices, since I’m going with others and we’ve had to find that interlocking bit of our Venn Diagram of tastes that means we’ll both enjoy it:

7th August: Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two, at the Cowbarn, Underbelly;

9th August: Henning Wehn’s Authentic German Christmas Do, at the Caves;

11th August: Oliver James – Is the Office a Malicious Place? Book Festival

11th August: Jesse Norman – Edmund Burke: A Hero of our Time; Book Festival

I might go to other stuff. I might write reviews, particularly of the shows which are not just a one-off. If so, they’ll be collected on the Virtual Fringe page.

In the autumn, I will be seen swooping and cawing in the Edinburgh skies as the sun sets. Updates on what I’ve planned for then soon.



Guitars and Embargoes

A while back, I posted that I wasn’t in a hurry to write any more stories. I wasn’t, and I amn’t, although a couple have popped out for an anthology I really fancy getting into.

The other one, No Sleep Till Scunthorpe, was specifically written for an Illicit Ink event, and to be honest, that’s the way I see my output going in the short to medium term. Unless a story really begs me to get written, I’ll be focusing on songs, poems and performance prose.

I really like performing (don’t know if that shows). It’s an instant hit: delayed gratification has a long tradition in Scottish culture, but I’m really starting to think it’s overrated.

Anyway, that’s enough about me, for now. If you fancy a go at performing your own deathless prose, and you can get it down in less than 1000 words (and preferably under 500) I can recommend the Edinburgh National Flash Fiction Day event on Saturday 22nd June. You have until midnight on 8th June to submit – see the Bloc site or Illicit Ink for details.

Last year’s Underword event was excellent. This year, it’s really good to see all the major spoken word outifits in Edinburgh getting together to produce the gig. I hope there will be more combinations and collaborations, because that’s how we become something greater than the sum of our parts.

Anyway, that’s enough about you, and them. More on my continuing experiments with music and spoken word combined soon – let’s just say what’s getting my nerve endings burning down like fuses right now, is working with a couple of other guitar players, some drum loops, and a barrel load of ideas. I can’t wait to put this show on for you!

But before that, a Nick Cave tribute night in September, and before that, a Bloc show at a certain Edinburgh happening I am embargoed from telling you more about for now…

Interesting Writing Market News

For which see:

Caledonia Dreamin’

Edited by Chris Kelso and Hal Duncan

“Glaikit, mockit, droukit, drouthy, couthy, scunner, thrawn – the Scots language is rich with words too gallus not to glory in, dialect terms that deserve better than to be boxed away as precious oddities. For us, those words aren’t quaint parochialisms of a past preserved in amber; they’re wild wee beauties, straight razors slashing keen to the quick of meaning. We want stories that wield them as weapons for today, for tomorrow. We want you to pick up one of these words and flick it open to gleam in the light of the 21st century. Play with it, work with it, give us a story that riffs on it with relish – the sound, the sense. Run wild with it, ye ramstouger rannigants, and send us the result.”

Submission deadline is 31 May 2013.

Also, some cheeky scamps in Canada have borrowed the mighty Bloc’s name: this received via our embassy:

“Call-out for submissions – Anarchist short stories wanted for the Subversions III anthology – March 1st 2013**

In May of 2011, SUBVERSIONS, the Montréal Anarchist Writers Bloc’s first collection of short fiction, was unleashed to wreak literary havoc on the world.
Now it’s time for the third volume to spread like the fire of a Molotov cocktail!
Anarchists, to your keyboards, plumes, pens or typewriters: you have until March 1st 2013 to write an original work of short fiction in English or French, of a maximum of 2500 words, which would be published in the third instalment of SUBVERSIONS.
The Bloc, founded during the 11th Anarchist Bookfair in Montréalin 2010 , aims to promote anarchist theory and praxis through literature. As anarchist writers, we fight for the establishment of a free, autonomous, egalitarian and green society through direct action and direct democracy. Anarchist literature contributes to that struggle.
If you think your works of short fiction should be part of the revolution, you can submit them to us at Although we do prefer an electronic copy, feel free to submit a paper version if you prefer by sending it to the Anarchist Writer’s Bloc, c/o L’Insoumise, 2033 St-Laurent, Montréal (QC), H2X 2T3.
For more details on the writing process, how the texts are selected or should be sent, visit our website at or send us an e-mail at”

More news later this week from me – I hope to upload a new track to Soundcloud for your delectation, and the first draft of my translation of Axolotl (see previous post) is done. And I’ve been doing some work on that troubled relationship with Leonard Cohen.

Coming Soon

It’s always great to see my fellow Writers’ Bloc performers getting a good review. This one is a peach, though – see Stuart Kelly’s review of the Seven Wonders of Scotland, which highly praises contributions from Kirsti Wishart and Gavin Inglis both. As Kelly says, Kirsti and Gav are writers “at whom Scottish publishers ought to be waving contracts.” Not just Scottish ones either.

In other news, I hope to have the new Tribute to Venus Carmichael CD in my hands soon. It features all-new versions of five songs:

In the Canyon;

Old School;

Taking Names;

Highway Tonight; and

When Things Go Wrong.

Expect word of CD launches and all that sort of thing soon.

Finally, look out for my Surrealist Year Ahead on this page, probably on New Year’s Day or the day after.

Book Cafe

Great interview, and some sneak previews of the stories, some 36 minutes in on Book Cafe – excellent work, Bram!

Update on October shows


A little more info on a couple of gigs coming up for you:

WEDNESDAY, 24TH OCTOBER, THE BONGO CLUB – 7.30 – 10 PM, £5/£3 conc


If your life had a soundtrack, what would it be?

We’re used to backing music in movies, TV drama, and plays. Why not when someone tells us a story? Writers’ Bloc regulars Gavin Inglis and Andrew C Ferguson have teamed up with rising star Dickson Telfer for a new kind of spoken word show.

Empowered by composer Kenny Inglis and musical collaborators Will Treeby and Kelly Brooks, the trio have put together stories of: trips to lap dancing bars with guardian angels; ram raids; cabaret singers on Mars; dead blondes; and Gregorian chanting vengeful moles — all with unique backing tracks, mashing up pre-recorded music and live instrumentation.

Part of Oxjam’s series of charity music gigs, Scored Stories takes spoken word to the next level. The Bongo Club, 37 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8BA Doors open 7.30pm for 8pm start.

Advance Tickets available




WARNING: This show contains literary necromancy – not suitable for those of a nervous disposition.WRITERS’ BLOC is Edinburgh’s premier spoken-word performance group, with a ten-year legacy of innovative and entertaining shows showcasing some of the capital’s foremost fiction writers. Recent shows include: Electric Lit Orchestra, part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Unbound strand; Brave New Words at the Edinburgh Science Festival; and FANtasia at Eastercon, the British National Science Fiction Convention, in London.  Other events have ranged from Mr Big Society to The Slime of Miss Jean Brodie and Doyle M for Murder (part of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature programme).

They are now preparing a daring, dangerous and diabolical show for Halloween, using a mix of black magic and cutting edge technolody.

In the months running up to All Hallow’s Eve, the members of Writers Bloc have been contacting the spirits of the dead – invoking the shades of literary giants, and using spirit guides to produce terrifying tales of The Other Side…

Come and witness the birth of a new literary movement – Séance Fiction.