BWS Day 7: Where Did the Week Go?

Words Per Minute Reading
Category: Reading

Where has the week gone? Can we do it all again, please?

My Book Week Scotland experience came to a close at the wonderful Words Per Minute event. Organised and presented by Kirstin Innes in partnership with the Scottish Refugee Council, the event was themed around "home". With The Glad Café in Shawlands as its host, it was a cosy get-together of writers and musicians, seven acts performing for 10 minutes each.

Author and former police officer Karen Campbell kicked things off with a reading from her upcoming novel, This is Where I Am. The scene she read depicts a Somali refugee making a visit to the Barrowlands Market to buy his mentor a gift. It was an excellent choice of setting for describing Glasgow's varied culture, and I'll be looking forward to the novel. Sophie Cooke – a travel writer, author and WPM regular – also read from the perspective of a refugee, a story of the old days of Yugoslavia with musings on capitalism. Meanwhile poet Jaimini Jethwa compared Idi Amin and Martin Luther King in her poetry of The Last Queen of Scotland.

Music was also provided by Amier Mohammedi, an 18-year-old rapper from Iran who has lived in Glasgow from the age of 12, and Patricia Panther, whose soulful electronic songs portrayed the baddies in the National Theatre of Scotland's recent production of Glasgow Girls. I would also encourage you to watch the missing short film, Destitution by Chris Leslie. You can watch it online at

My personal highlight was Martin O'Connor, a writer whose A Govan of the Mind project makes Glaswegian slang sound like Latin. His folk style song and verse captured Glasgow's religious side with a folk song that sums up the city’s religious life (i.e. "Church", i.e. football-going), and a Glaswegian version of the Catholic Order of Mass. His performance gave an honest and rousing view of Glasgow thick with vernacular and, like, slang words and that. You can hear it for yourself on his website.

And with that, my Book Week Scotland experience drew to a close – and I must say, I'll miss it. Between fantastic readings, meetings with some of the 100 authors in 100 libraries, lively discussions, serious debates and a week-long celebration of writing and reading, it has been an incredible week. I've seen performances from newcomers and veterans, learned about the Vikings and the refugee experience, debated Dickens, witnessed a Literary Death Match for the ages and shared Reading Hour with hundreds, maybe thousands of fellow readers.

I've had recommendations from The League of Extraordinary Book Lovers, chatted with Scottish Book Trust staff and authors alike, learned about the sanctity of words and revelled in the wordless music of RM Hubbert. I was also fortunate to visit with Comely Park Primary – a school of superstars with, I'm sure, tens more budding writers and hundreds more budding readers amongst their ranks. The power of words and learning has been clear throughout this week, and sharing that experience has been an absolute blast.

You can hear more of my thoughts on the week on the upcoming Bookmarked podcast with Ryan Van Winkle.

Until then, happy reading, and I hope to share it with you all again next year!

Nicola Balkind

Nicola Balkind is a writer, editor and avid reader. She contributes to a number of books, blogs, and the BBC Scotland Movie Café, and is the editor of World Film Locations: Glasgow. Read more of her Book Week Scotland blogs here.