In 2021 there are events taking place all over Scotland to celebrate the centenary of the birth in 1921 of George Mackay Brown who has attained international standing as a poet and writer, his work translated into many languages. Here in Orkney, the place of his birth, the George Mackay Brown Fellowship has been developing its own programme of events and working too with other organisations to celebrate the centenary, draw new readers to the writer’s work and also to support and encourage new writing.
You can see our programme below, beginning with Seven Books, our collaboration with Orkney Library & Archive launched in April this year.
We are currently building a collection of links to events and projects being mounted by other organisations in Orkney to celebrate the centenary. You will shortly be able to click on the titles of the events/projects in the gallery below to see details of these.
Between April and November the GMB Fellowship plans to run seven online book group sessions on Zoom in association with Orkney Library and Archive.
Each session will feature a book by George Mackay Brown introduced by a guest writer/editor.
If you would like to ask a question about any of the books featured, please email email@example.com
If you would like to attend a session, please request a Zoom link for the one you would like to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrate the George Mackay Brown Centenary 2021 with Orkney Library & Archive and the GMB Fellowship. Knit a hat for George in any colour or style – whether striped, Fair Isle or plain. All hats will be exhibited online and in Orkney Library & Archive in October 2021 then auctioned for a local charity.
Hand in your completed hat to Kirkwall Library, Stromness Library or the Mobile Library or post to: A Hat for George, Orkney Library & Archive, 44 Junction Road, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15 1AG Telephone: (01856) 873166
Please include with your hat a note of the following details: 1. Your name (if you are happy to have this displayed). 2. Your location (where in Orkney – or the world – you are). 3. Optional: a name for your hat design chosen from a novel, story, poem or line of text from the work of George Mackay Brown.
During the Centenary of the birth of George Mackay Brown an exciting collaboration is being developed between the GMB Fellowship and Orkney Camerata. We are inviting people to think about continuity and change – ideas which can be seen throughout the work of George Mackay Brown, and which may have a particular resonance for us now.
We invite the creation of new writing and new music inspired by these themes.
To read more and to find out how to take part in this project, click below.
In the centenary of the birth of George Mackay Brown in 1921, the GMB Fellowship and BBC Radio Orkney have launched a joint project to trace as many copies as possible of the writer’s first collection, The Storm and other poems, published in 1954. The radio station plans to broadcast a special programme in the autumn, as close as possible to the centenary of GMB’s birth.
As well as finding where copies have reached – in Orkney, Scotland, the UK, the world! – we would like to know any stories their owners are willing to share of the books themselves. How they came to own them, what they know of their history, what they mean to them now. The stories will form part of the BBC Radio Orkney programme for the centenary, but in the months ahead we will publish them here on the GMBF website.
The 2021 GMB Memorial Lecture will be given in September by the acclaimed Scottish poet, writer and publisher James Robertson. His latest novel News of the Dead, will be published by Penguin on 5 August and has at its core a concern with time, a theme that pervades the works of George Mackay Brown.
We are excited to be working on a new publication of prose and poetry from Orkney writers this year. Edited by writer Alison Miller, it will consist of writing in Orkney language from the Orkney Voices writing group.
We aim to bring this out by the end of September 2021. The main difficulty is that there is so much material and the group produces more every time we meet. A great problem to have!
While you’re waiting for the book, you can see some of the writing from group members by clicking on:
‘Writing Groups’ -> then Orkney Voices -> then Wark fae Orkney Voices
Watch this space for more information about the book and its publication date…
We hope to be able to have a renga day in and around Stromness in the summer months. It will be led by writer Yvonne Gray in locations that have an association with George Mackay Brown or are significant in his writing. In the course of the day we will compose a 36-verse collaborative poem based on the traditional Japanese renku form.
How we organise this will depend on the easing of current restrictions and guidelines on social distancing later in the year.
If it becomes clear later in the year that it will not be possible to plan the renga in this way, an online renga will take its place.
Featured image: photograph of George Mackay Brown (detail) by Gunnie Moberg courtesy Orkney Library and Archive