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  • Alistair Braidwood

Telling Stories: A Preview of the Paisley Book Festival 2023…

Updated: Feb 15, 2023



This Thursday (16-02-2023) sees the start of this year’s Paisley Book Festival, which runs until Saturday 26th Feb. With the theme of ‘Remake & Rebel', the programme is carefully curated to offer a wide range of events, with something for everyone.


You can peruse the full programme at your leisure, and get tickets, at paisleybookfest.com, keep up to date with what’s going on with Facebook, Twitter @BookPaisley, and Instagram @PaisleyBookFest.


In the meantime, here are a few of Scots Whay Hae!'s picks of the Festival to help you get started. Click the titles to learn more and get yourself tickets.


Join Paisley Book Festival to launch this year’s event with the musical stylings of 2 Stoned Birds, and performances by two incredible poets: Bibi June and Michael Mullen.


2 Stoned Birds are a spoken word music duo from Dundee, taking you under their wings with a vibrant blend of flowing poetry, atmospheric music and catchy beats. Across stormy seas, unknown lands and outer space, 2 Stoned Birds will guide you on a voyage of discovery, hope, and joy.


Bibi June is a poet whose work talks a lot about queer joy, disability justice, colonialism, climate grief and anti-capitalism. Their collection Kinsey Scale for the Emotionally Fragile Queer was shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.


Michael Mullen is a poet, writer and spoken word artist from Rutherglen. Writing in both Scots and Standard English exploring themes of identity, language and class. Their collection Lay Down With Dogs jointly won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2022.

  • 16th February at 7:30 – 9:30 pm

  • UWS Hall

  • Tickets – Pay What You Can



Neurodiversity is a topic not often discussed in publishing, but it’s one worth diving into: Ely Percy, award-winning author of Duck Feet, brings together a host of authors to discuss neurodiversity, both through the lens of being a writer and creator, and exploring it through non-fiction and fiction.


This will be a pre-recorded virtual event, which will be launched publicly during the festival. Featuring Michael Lee Richardson and Gray Crosbie.


**Please note – this is a digital event. We will email you the link to watch the event 2 hours before the start time**

  • 17th February at 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

  • Virtual Event

  • Tickets – Free



What does it mean to belong? What can friendship mean to us?


Journalist Chitra Ramaswamy met Henry Wuga over a decade ago when writing a story on his life, and how he fled from Nazi Germany in 1939. Beyond that first article, what followed is a years long friendship that is captured so neatly and immersively in Homelands – a story of migration, antisemitism, racism, family, belonging, resilience and – most of all – heart.



Chaired by Nicola Sturgeon, Join Chitra at Paisley Book Festival to dive into her friendship with Henry, why relationships such as these are so impactful, what we can learn from those around us, and why we treasure these connections so.

  • 17th February at 5:30 – 6:30 pm

  • UWS Hall

  • Tickets – £10/£8

In life, we are split: whether a moment that demands you constantly choose a side, or the dichotomy of ourselves inside and out in the world, it’s a continued tension.


Join Edinburgh Makar Hannah Lavery and performance poet Leyla Josephine as they discuss their debut poetry collections Blood Salt Spring and In Public / In Private – the cultural shifts, inherited trauma, seismic events, the external forces that invade our personhood and ask us to keep parts of ourselves quiet, and the hope in shared experiences, in moving forward and reclaiming our futures.


  • 18th February at 12:30 – 1:30 pm

  • UWS Upstairs

  • Tickets – Pay What You Can


What does it mean to be Black and working in Scotland’s cultural and creative industries today? Join filmmaker and writer Etienne Kubwabo (Beats of War, Mileaway Films), historian Lisa Williams (founder of Edinburgh Caribbean Association and Black History Walks), writer Eilidh Akilade plus one more guest for a discussion of their work.


They share their experiences and creative explorations of being Black and Scottish, reflecting on history, examining the present, and looking to the future.


  • 18th February at 2:30 – 3:30 pm

  • The Art Department, 2-10 Causeyside Street, Paisley PA1 1UQ

  • Tickets – Pay What You Can


Sometimes you’ve got to laugh your way through life, and there’s no finer vessel than Scottish humour. We bring together two authors who, across their fiction and non-fiction, rip up the notion that tough times equates to unbridled misery, and that laughter can be found.


Kirkland Ciccone’s Sadie, Call the Polis is an offbeat story of a Scottish family as seen through the eyes of the indomitable Sadie Rash, who we follow from childhood to adulthood, while Carrie Marshall’s memoir Carrie Kills A Man explores how a trans rock singer killed a depressed suburban dad in its frank and fearless glory.


Both authors will dive into their work, and – dare we say – crack a joke or two about life along the way.

  • 18th February at 3:00 – 4:00 pm

  • UWS Upstairs

  • Tickets – Pay What You Can



Times Bestselling author Graeme Armstrong will discuss his novel The Young Team – described as ‘an instant Scottish classic’ – with fellow child of Airdrie, Author Kerry Hudson, as part of the Paisley Book Festival Writer in Residence curated events program. From his early years within North Lanarkshire’s gang culture, to his meteoric rise on the Scottish literary scene, they will explore his career and translating Airdrie to the page.


Graeme and Kerry will also be joined by local guest readers sharing their own reflections of home and identity.

  • 19th February at 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

  • UWS Main Hall

  • Tickets – Pay What You Can



Tension rests uneasy in the air. In Rachelle Atalla’s The Pharmacist, very few people made it to the bunker, but those who do wait for the world outside to heal; but where is it most dangerous to be?


Heather Parry’s Orpheus Builds a Girl sees Wilhelm von Tore becomes romantically obsessed with an ailing young woman who dies, and his story only gets more grotesque from there.


Navigating the darkness within society, within people, both authors invite readers into worlds that will leave them clinging to the book until the final page is turned. Join these two debut authors who have launched their careers with exceptional work, a sure sign of things to come.


  • 19th February at 2:30 – 3:30 pm

  • The Art Department, 2-10 Causeyside Street, Paisley PA1 1UQ

  • Tickets – Pay What You Can


As part of the Paisley Book Festival Writer in Residence curated events, Kirstin Innes, author of the acclaimed Fishnet and Scabby Queen – described by Nicola Sturgeon as ‘a literary triumph’ – will discuss her novels, balancing the joys and challenges of motherhood with her writing career, and whether there are unexpected ways in which a ‘pram in the hallway’ can be a huge asset as a writer and constant source of inspiration.

  • 19th February at 2:30 – 3:30 pm

  • UWS Students’ Union Main Hall

  • Tickets – Pay What You Can


A weekend treat for the crime lovers out there. Two criminally good writers join forces to dive into their most recent work: crime-writing royalty Denise Mina’s Confidence transports everyone to a Scottish seaside town in the middle of an internet frenzy to find a missing person, and Bloody Scotland Debut Prize-winner Tariq Ashkanani whisks readers off to Cooper, Nebraska for tales of murder and corruption.


Chaired by Arusa Qureshi.

  • 19th February at 4:00 – 5:00 pm

  • UWS Hall

  • Tickets – £10/£8





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