It’s likely that the Marvel fans among you might already be well acquainted with the ‘multiverse’ theory, for Marvel, an all-too-convenient premise to string-out an empire of franchises and merchandise to rival Dolly Parton’s wig collection.
But for those who think Iron Man’s a cut-price Forman grill, let’s steal from the internet to better explain it…
Imagine it. An infinite web of universes born from even the smallest encounters, where realities blur and bend from even the smallest decisions.
Where whole worlds of stories and sorrows, memories and hopes as vivid and colourful as your own exist within each passer-by.
Supported by DGU, the High Street Multiverse is a digital, public art project working with 5 emerging writers from the region, this unique initiative supported writers to craft five individual audio stories to be placed within the town centre of Dumfries, through a specially designed series of QR code sculptures, the artworks will immerse listeners into new imaginative worlds, traversing time and space.
Under the mentorship of writers Des Dillon, Karen Campbell and Karl Drinkwater, emerging writers Carolyn Hashimoto, Davey Payne, Cameron Philips, Kris Haddow and Jasmine McMillan, worked together in a 4 month period to craft 5 unique tales inspired by Dumfries High Street. These immersive and imaginative works were later recorded, mixed, mastered and designed by producer John Dinning to create immersive audio works, adding an exciting new layer to the tales.
As part of the project’s conclusion an accompanying publication is set to launch on Friday March 11th at the Stove Café, alongside the artworks themselves. The evening will feature talks and readings alongside a preview of the works themselves. This exciting project culminates alongside a creative writing workshop with Multiverse writer Carolyn Hashimoto exploring the doors and portals of the town the next day.
We hope you can join us in celebrating a new imaginative addition to our town centre, where worlds hidden in the undergrowth of the streets or in the reflections of passing strangers will be heard for the very first time.
1000 years from now lies only 5 minutes from here…
High Street Multiverse Launch: Meet the Makers of the Multiverse
The Stove Café is proud to present, as part of this year’s Wild Goose Festival and in partnership with Wigtown Festival Company, the RIVERRUN SERIES.
Over three days, within the festival programme, Riverrun celebrates poetry and literature and features special guests including: Tom Pow, Hugh Bryden, Robin Crawford, Malachy Tallack, Alec Finlay and Esther Woolfson.
The Stove Café will host two of the Riverrun events on the 18th and 19th at its venue on Dumfries High Street, the third will be hosted online as part of the Wigtown Wednesday series on the 20th.
First in the series is Riverrun 1 – Life Is Still Life which sees the launch of two new pamphlets published by Roncadora Press and featuring poetry by Tom Pow and artwork by Hugh Bryden both of these are responses to the natural world during lockdown. The first, Life, through a range of emails sent to Tom, which he shapes into moments of haiku; the second, Still Life, through Hugh’s painted observations of an immediate world of plants and objects, which Tom responds to in poetry.
Hugh Bryden and Tom Pow have collaborated on many publications over a long period of time. Initially with Cacafuego Press, which they ran together, and then with Hugh’s own Roncadora Press. With both presses, Hugh’s visual presentation and attention to detail have been paramount and recognised by a number of awards.
This evening’s illustrated launch will be an opportunity to see and to hear this new work and to buy the pamphlets.
Riverrun 2 – The Lure Of The River, on Tuesday 19th October features Robin A Crawford, author of ‘Into The Peatlands: A Journey Through The Moorland Year’ (2018) and ‘Cauld Blasts and Clishmaclavers: A Treasury of 1000 Scottish Words’(2020).
Attendees at this event will enjoy a special preview of two new books about life on the river; The first, ‘Along the River: A year’s journey on the Tay’ (Birlinn, 2022) by Robin Crawford which interweaves history both human and natural from the Highland crannog on Loch Tay to the V&A at its North Sea Firth, an extract.
“You never enter the same river twice and yet it remains. Heraclitus’s river flows, everything flows but the water that my great grandfather swam in as a youth is the same river that ferried my Granny over from Fife before the First World War, that I road bridged as a boy, heard the wintering geese return to as a student, saw from the window of the maternity ward at Ninewells as my wife’s waters broke as our son was born. It is all rivers, it is unique.”
The second is Malachy Tallack’s; ‘Illuminated by Water’ (Doubleday, 2022), a combination of memoir, nature writing and reflections on culture and history, examining why angling means so much to so many.
Malachy Tallack is the award-winning author of three books, most recently a novel, The Valley at the Centre of the World (Canongate, 2018). It was shortlisted for the Highland Book Prize and longlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. His first book, Sixty Degrees North (2015), was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and his second, The Un-Discovered Islands (2016), was named Illustrated Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards. Malachy is from Shetland, and currently lives in central Scotland.
On Wednesday 20th October, Riverrun 3, The Urban Naturalist, forms part of the Wigtown Wednesday programme and will be hosted online, featuring authors Esther Woolfson and Alec Finlay.
This special event explores the idea of what it might mean to say, ‘we are all naturalists now’; and, in the light of covid and COP26 questions what our relationship to the natural world might be.
Esther Woolfson, author of ‘Field Notes from a Hidden City and Between Light’ and ‘Storm – How We Live with Other Species’ (both Granta) argues that encouraging children and adults to talk about urban nature is one of the most important and neglected areas of possibility for change that there is.
Woolfson began her writing career with highly acclaimed short stories. She has been Artist in Residence at Aberdeen University’s Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability, Writer in Residence at the Hexham Book Festival and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen.
During the pandemic, Esther has become increasingly interested in the boundaries between human and non-human, the links between how we treat other humans and other species and in finding ways of altering the traditional, accepted ways of treating other species which appear to have led to the development and spread of SarsCov-2 and the drastic loss of species which is further endangering all life on earth.
She’s joined by poet and artist, Alec Finlay, who has developed a practice that draws attention to urban nature as a way of stimulating our imaginations and our well-being.
Alec Finlay’s work crosses over a range of media and forms and considers how we relate to landscape and ecology, including recent projects on place-awareness, hutopianism, rewilding, and disability access.
His recent publications include the Scottish Design Award best publication winner a far-off land (2018), made for Marie Curie, exploring landscapes of healing; gathering, a place-aware guide to the Cairngorms, published by Hauser & Wirth (2018); and th’ fleety wud (2017), a response to climate change and flooding, as part of an artwork being created in Hawick, in collaboration with Andrew MacKenzie and Gill Russell.
In 2018 Alec Finlay turned his focus onto the possibilities of rewilding urban spaces. In collaboration with The Walking Library (Dee Heddon & Misha Myers), he created a generous mapping project, Wild City, which is available as a book. This features photographic and written documentation of a series of participative walks through Glasgow exploring wild nature,reflecting on the politics of green spaces and the commons, and proposing imaginative pathways to adapt to and reverse climate breakdown.
This fascinating conversation of ideas and experience will interest any naturalist and any urban dweller. Tickets for this online even are free but need to be booked in advance.
For more details on each of the River Run series of events, visit the Wild Goose Festival page, or book your free tickets below:
Monday 18 October RIVERRUN 1:
LIFE IS STILL LIFE
7:00pm – 8:00pm The Stove Café, 100 High Street, Dumfries Free but ticketed
A Brave New Words update from founder and director, Martin O’Neill
This year has been quite the rollercoaster, hasn’t it?
With next year looming round the corner, we’re asking ourselves, what will it bring? Global societal change for the better? Universal basic income? A fairer and more just world? Or, judging by this year, is it all going to go a bit belly up?
Well, we hope not. But let’s ask the questions.
Over the next couple of months we’re holding back our usual Brave New Words Friday night mash-up live-streamed extravaganzas in favour of something a little bit different. To end our year, we’re inviting creative writing submissions around the theme of ‘What Now?’ with contributions making up our first ever printed newspaper publication. We’re looking for submissions from poetry, short stories, flash fiction to text-based art from writers young and older, professional or just dabbling. Think of it like an open mic, but as a newspaper!
You can submit up to three pieces to be considered.
That said, just like our open mic, whilst every effort will be made to ensure your piece ends up in the final print we will be limited on space and can’t guarantee that everything will make it through, so do think hard on what you’re sending in.
This is a completely open submission for anyone based in Dumfries & Galloway. You don’t have to have been at a Brave New Words before, and we’re always looking for new voices to showcase.As always, we encourage you to be brave and put yourself forward.
If you need any more information on the publication please get in touch through our social channels or email [email protected]. Submissions should be sent to: [email protected] in PDF or Word format (please don’t put your submissions in the body of the email) Deadline: 1st December. Get writing, & be brave.
In the good old days, if you recall, before the big bad virus swept across the world. You know, that flu that awakened our most primal of fears, leaving us high and dry, bleaching banana skins from the supermarket shelf and losing all concept of social cues and humility. The ‘good times’, before bumping into an old colleague in the supermarket left you equal parts scattered like some unassembled jigsaw and petrified, marooned and struggling in vain to stitch together some semblance of a normal, pleasant English sentence from the ruined, anxiety ridden attic of your mind whilst gripping a bottle of disinfectant (anti-viral of course) just in case they dared step foot within your 2 meter sanctuary of social isolation.
Pause for air.
Well, before all that, we had such things called ‘plays’. ‘Plays’, or ‘live TV’ (not really, but bear with me) were these real-life moving pictures where people called ‘actors’ would perform words written by writers, too strange and socially awkward for most other professions.
These ‘plays’ would be performed in ‘theatres’. Theatres were buildings that came in all shapes and sizes. From majestic stone coliseums in Greece, to tiny wee almost-shed-like structures near Whithorn on the Galloway coast. Yes, they were quite the hit for some time. People would travel in their millions to a tiny, expensive over-crowded city in Scotland to watch some semi-sane people dance and prance their way on stages in dive bars and portaloos. The legends of the Internet are rife with memories and photographs of these most magical, dumb and dangerous shenanigans.
Then the Big Bad came and ‘plays’ weren’t able to take place in theatres, with people, sitting right next to you, loudly chewing Werthers Originals, letting their mobile phones ring loudly occasionally interspersed with quiet farts now being considered a health risk. So much of them went online, in Instagram stories and glitchy Zoom sessions where you got to sit and stare at yourself, striking the odd socially-conscious facial cue to let them know you were in fact listening and not just scrolling through cat videos on YouTube. The same too happened here, at the Stove with the ‘Lowland’ play, ready to be performed in Lochside, Moniaive and Langholm, Lowland sank back into the dusty shadows of the rehearsal room and sat, patiently waiting for the time to return. Realising after three to four months that maybe wasn’t looking all that likely, it was time for a re-imagining!
Originally conceived and developed with the help and guidance of local young writers, poets and dramatists, Lowland initially explored what it meant to ‘belong’, using postcards filled out by Doonhamers, featuring drawings, poetry, stories and the occasional dirty joke. Over 500 of these postcards were filled out during poet Stuart A Paterson’s residency with the project over a year ago.
As time went on, the play started to take a bit of shape. Several adaptions, rewrites and voyages into dead-end dark tunnels later, the play was ready to be rehearsed with a talented community cast of local actors, writers and performers. Just as it was coming to the scripts-down, lights up, camera action…the big bad burst on through the stage door and it all went quiet.
Since then, the play has been re-adapted as a podcast in 2 chapters (originally it was meant to be a radio play but there was just too much swearing). Following on from the cast’s first digital get-together and read-through of the adapted script, we are embarking on a journey into the world of audio plays!
We can’t say it’s been easy. Four months of mourning for live theatre and foggy lockdown head doesn’t do a playwright any good. And the pubs were closed. Yet now, ladies, gentlemen and everyone in-between we are delighted to be returning to the rehearsal room (albeit in cyber space) and are almost ready to buckle down and get recording! Lowland: The Play is on its way. And we can’t wait for you to hear it…
So, what’s it all about?
‘Let me get this straight. You’re telling me I have to present some new fangled resources centre, right in the middle of the scheme, with little to no idea what it will actually be used for. On top of all this, they’re all here, Barnside, for a consultation. Only, there is no such thing. I’m nothing more than a salesman. And if I don’t do this. I destroy three years of clawing my way back out of the gutter…for a job.’
Barnside is sinking and the residents are on the edge of revolution. The local council, in its bleary wisdom, have been drafted in to ease the tensions. Only, not everything is as it seems and sooner or later, something’s got to give.
A play in two acts, inspired by over 500 postcards reflecting on life in Dumfries written by Doonhamers. Lowland: The Play features a community cast, devised through collaboration with local writers’ groups, communities and members of the local council, Lowland is the tale of a consultation gone wrong.
As Angela, a council officer, prepares for a consultation, one year in the making, her boss throws a curve ball, eradicating all her best intentions, leaving her and her assistants in disarray and woefully unprepared. As a storm rages on outside, a community prepares a coup d’état…
Lowland is a tragi-comedy, offering a satirical and emotional look at the nature of community, power, local democracy and belonging.
“I wrote about what was around me. But some people are so daft they don’t understand that writing about Prestwich is just as valid as Dante writing about his Inferno.” Mark E. Smith
In an in-between place like this, writers have free reign. A place, on the edge of becoming, nearest to the precipice of the green dreaming miles to the coast. We know, it’s not quite like anywhere else. Far from it. Too close to call home. Too far in reach. Too full of hope to try.
Over the last three years, a project has been quietly simmering in the studios of the Stove. Launched in its first year by writer-in-residence, Stuart A Paterson, Lowland sought to create a new literary portrait of Dumfries town.
Now approaching the third year, the project aspires to engage more writers to reflect on a town in a transitional phase of its history.
About The Play
Barnside is sinking and the residents are on the edge of revolution. The local council, in its bleary wisdom, has been drafted in to ease the tensions. Only, not everything is, as it seems. And sooner or later, something’s got to give…
Inspired by over 300 postcards by local people, visitors and newcomers reflecting on Dumfries as well as conversations in the heart of the high street, ‘Lowland’ is a play about life in an in-between place. Developed in association with the Stove Network and the National Theatre of Scotland, this new play written by young local writers is an often otherworldly, farcical and radical presentation into the nature of community.
At 11pm on Friday, 31st January 2020 as Britain officially exited from its position within the EU and began the transition process of finding a new way forward – the Stove’s Conversing Building project invited attendees of the Big Burns Supper’s Europa Picnic hosted by the wonderful Hope London, and visitors to the Stove cafe to pause and mark the moment with us.
Audiences were invited to write and share a love letter of their own to Europe: to a memory connected to a place, or to a friend, a stranger, present, past or future, and add it to a large map in our cafe, creating a map of inclusiveness, of welcoming, of respect and care for each other and all those who would wish to make this place their home.
“It’s going to be a letter about the future.”
The map was on display in the Stove from Thursday 6th-13th February. Thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute a letter to the collection.