This year, my colleague Kristian Kerr and I thought we’d do something a little special as part of Birlinn’s 25th anniversary year celebrations. 25 years! Can you believe it?
Anyway, there’s no denying that both of us get excited about books. A lot. Loudly. We’re constantly comparing reading notes, and talking about how books link up with each other, so we thought, why not talk out loud about Scottish books and get everyone joining in the conversation? And so our podcast, A Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature was born.
In each episode, we’ll talk about a particular text, whether a novel, a collection of poetry, a play or classic non-fiction. We’ll chat about its themes, context and our own responses. We’ll also interview writers, include performances, and host a segment celebrating the Birlinn list, on works that connect with the main subject of the episode. There are a lot of books to choose from!
We’ve just uploaded the very first episode, where, as it’s January, we talk about Robert Burns and his first collection, The Kilmarnock Edition of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. It has been fascinating to read his first published poems knowing what was then to follow: his fame, his death, his legacy, and it was also great to read poems that are maybe not as widely known now, or don’t form part of his ‘greatest hits’; hidden gems that actually enrich our understanding of the man. We also talk to our author, Chris Whatley, about his recent book Immortal Memory: Burns and the Scottish People and how Burns has been marshalled and mythologised since his death. And to top it off we have the poet, William Letford, performing a few of Burns’s best-loved poems.
It’s all very exciting!
So, please, have a listen here, or sign up to Podomatic, while your enjoying your haggis, neeps and tatties. And if you need any more inspiration for celebrating Burns, here are some more reading suggestions from the Birlinn backlist.