Saturday, 24 November 2012

West Port Book Festival 2012: day 1

In the summer of 2008 the West Port Book Festival was birthed. Originally running over a long weekend in August, to coincide with its big sister the Edinburgh International Book Festival, a series of free events were held in various venues on Edinburgh's West Port - often referred to as Edinburgh's Soho for its multitude of bookshops (and strip clubs) - using Edinburgh Books as its base.

Edinburgh Books

Run almost entirely on love and cake, it has continued to attract remarkably big names to perform in bookshops, galleries, church halls, pubs and cafes, often to an audience of more people than you would think you could fit in a bookshop.

WPBF: Wince!

After two years in August it became more of a pop-up Festival, having been in June 2010, October 2011 and now November 2012. And the ever-changing landscape of Edinburgh's venues means that old stalwarts have died and been replaced by a raft of newbies; this year they've even added Inspace and Central Lending library as a venue, not to mention a chipshop!

This year's programme launch was in Edinburgh Books and along with the usual stars - more cake than can be eaten in one evening and beer pleasingly donated by Stewarts - there was the addition of a brass band.

West Port Book Festival 2012 launch

This year they're working with the Rock Trust to build a reading corner for their drop in centre. So if you have any spare books you think 16-25s might appreciate you can drop them off at any of the WPBF venues...

West Port Book Festival 2012 launch

This year's festival started off, as is traditional, with an informal pre-fest meetup; cue a round of very friendly drinks and nibbles (to fortify the team of course) in Pulp Fiction.

WPBF12: Pre-Fest Nibbles

While this was happening, Main Point Books was taken over for the first actual event, a discussion on book covers featuring amongst others, and probably one reason for the massive turnout, Alastair Gray. So big a turnout that there wasn't even room to slip in and grab a few photos. This was followed by Take Tea with Turing, a collection of works inspired by Alan Turing compiled by Viccy Adams. Everything at Inspace is exciting.

The West Port team like to collaborate wherever possible and the last event of the night was a miniature version of Edinburgh's latest cabaret sensation Rally & Broad, aka Rachel McCrum and Jenny Lindsay.

WPBF12: Rally & Broad Unplugged!

The downstairs bar in the Cuckoo's Nest was about as full as it could be, which made every visit to the toilet by customers upstairs - who had to wade through the masses - thoroughly entertaining.

WPBF12: Rally & Broad Unplugged!

We were treated to an excellent if somewhat harrowing poem/story by the illustrious Hannah McGill.

WPBF12: Rally & Broad Unplugged!

Followed by the inexplicable and entertaining musical trippings of Liz Cronin (whose refraim "I'll be a killing machine in the name of justice", led to some terrified looks on the men trying to sneak out of the toilets).

WPBF12: Rally & Broad Unplugged!

Then the show was tied off by a set of very dramatic poetry from Luke Wright, who alliterated us to bits while absentmindedly being the best dressed person in the building.

WPBF12: Rally & Broad Unplugged!

And then there was much collapsing and a brief sleep before the events of Saturday...

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