Edinburgh festival time again and this year we are contributing a rather special event with two of the Catalans featured in Six Catalan Poets, Carles Torner and Josep Lluís Aguiló, reading with Meg Bateman and Peter Mackay, both of whom are Gaelic speakers.
The event is billed as the combining of two cultures built on history and language, as most cultures are, this neat turn of phrase perhaps doesn't do justice to the extent to which both the Gaelic and Catalan languages underpin identities of these minority cultures belonging, administratively speaking, to a larger State. And even this kind of pronouncement does not allow for the powerful individuality these poets will be bringing to the stage.
Carles Torner is an outstanding exponent of poetic engagement against inequality and political violence, and has aligned himself with Catalan PEN and supported the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. Josep Lluís Aguiló, on the other hand, populates his work with faiytales and myths, which makes for enriching surreal dialogues with a huge cast from the fictional and historical pasts.
With Meg Bateman being a lecturer at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Scotland's only Gaelic college, on Skye, and Peter Mackay, who has been co-editing a collection of essays on Scots Gaelic literature and an anthology of Gaelic transgressive verse, there is bound to be a sense of investigation in what language brings to a literary identity.
The event is chaired by Niall O'Gallagher. So here's hoping for some stimulating, stretching illuminations
A review of the event was published in the Scottish Review of Books on 14 August 2013