Dame Muriel, and her inspiring teacher Christina Kay, are both included in the New BiographicalDictionary of Scottish Women, to be published by Edinburgh University Press next month. The new edition is published to mark the centenary of women's suffrage, and since Muriel had a suffragette in her family history, we hope she would have been pleased. It would be timely to reread her short story on the movement, Harper and Wilton.
I have co-edited (with Louise Peterkin) a poetry anthology containing two poems inspired by each of Muriel Spark's twenty-two novels, and also a few works of Spark-inspired art. It features forty-four of the most interesting and acclaimed poets around today, mainly from the UK, with a special emphasis on Scotland, but also a few from further afield e.g. Sean O'Brien, Vahni Capildeo, Sasha Dugdale, Tishani Doshi, W.N.Herbert, Robert Alan Jamieson etc - everything from T.S. Eliot Prize winners to some of the best of today's 'emerging' poets. And it comes with an introduction by the novelist and short story writer, Olga Wojtas.
The book, which will be called 'Spark' with a subtitle 'Poetry and Art Inspired by the Novels of Muriel Spark', will be published on 15 October 2018 by Blue Diode Press and will cost £10. It will be this new Scottish publisher's first publication. I'm sure it would be of interest to many in the Muriel Spark Society.
The launch will be on Saturday 13 October, 2.30-4pm, at the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton's Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT. It's a free event, although we hope people will buy the book! I would be grateful if you could pass on these details to anyone you think might be interested.
Author Shane Strachan writes:
I will be launching my short fiction collection Nevertheless: Sparkian Tales in Bulawayo (Zimbabwe: amaBooks) in the Suttie Arts Space at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The collection has been funded by Creative Scotland in celebration of Muriel Spark's centenary in 2018. The launch will coincide with Buladeen, an exhibition of new work by Bulawayo-based artist collective BUKA who I previously worked with on an arts-in-health project in Zimbabwe. Non-ticketed; all welcome
Poet Theresa Munoz explores the use of archives in poetry at the Scottish Poetry Library on 6 October 2018. She has been exploring fan letters to Muriel in the Spark Archive in the National Library of Scotland, and is writing a poetry sequence on them entitled, Why We Love You.
Performer and composer Jessica Danz is creating a new work for violin and string quartet inspired by a selection of Muriel Spark’s poetry, which will be performed at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh on the 14 November 2018. Jessica will appear as a solo violinist alongside the Brodick Quartet, an ensemble comprised of four of Scotland’s most outstanding young string players. For more information: https://www.jessicadanz.com/@jessicadanzmusic @Jessica_Danz
The BookMark Festival in Blairgowrie celebrates Dame Muriel’s centenary with a full day of events on Sunday 7 October. Participants include Alan Taylor, Rosemary Goring and Gerda Stevenson. Our former Chair Gail Wylie and Committee member Olga Wojtas will help steer the day.
£15 for a day pass. Tickets available from Horsecross: www.horsecross.co.uk.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will discuss her love of books at the Wigtown Book Festival next month. Going on the evidence of her recent interest in all things Sparkian, there is an excellent possibility that Muriel Spark will figure large. Ms Sturgeon will appear on the first day.
Earlier on, in the Charlotte Square Sparkathon, we had been tackling the Big One: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Teasing out the reasons for its enduring appeal, Candia McWilliam was joined by joined by writer and editor Alan Taylor and chairwoman Gail Wylie, the last two both former chairs of the Muriel Spark Society and therefore, for these purposes, very much la crème de la crème.
There has been a feast of Spark at the Book Festival this centenary year, and five more events are planned from today until Friday. Of particular note is Ali Smith reprising her brilliant Spark and Time, first presented last November as the Muriel Spark Society Lecture. This lecture was recently published by Polygon. Visit the Book Festival site for more details.
The rehearsed reading of Muriel Spark’s play was a triumph last night, with particular praise for Maureen Beattie and Elaine C Smith. The full Spiegeltent resounded with laughter as the mordant satire progressed. I was delighted to see our Patron Penelope Jardine in attendance, as well as the First Minister! Let’s hope we are able to see a fully staged version at the Lyceum in the near future.
We are delighted to welcome novelist Olga Wojtas to the Committee of the Muriel Spark Society. Her recent novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, has a former pupil of Marcia Blaine as the main character. Olga is herself a former Gillespie’s girl. Very much looking forward to working with her.
Eric Dickson, Chairman
Dear Society Members and Muriel Spark readers,
This is just a very quick note to introduce myself as Chairman and to let you know that our new Committee will convene for the first time this Wednesday. We will be discussing our plans for the year ahead, as the Centenary celebrations continue. Watch this space for news of approaching events!