Inspiring Peebles

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Song of Peebles prize-winners line up alongside Jackie Kay (centre)

A national literary treasure, beautiful tunes from a talented local musician and happy winners of a writing competition all about Peebles – it was a night to remember at the Eastgate’s Anne Younger Studio on Saturday 30 August.

A highlight of this year’s Peebles Arts Festival, acclaimed poet, novelist and short story writer Jackie Kay was in town for an evening of conversation and readings in the main auditorium at the Eastgate. But before what turned out to be a rather cheeky evening, we were delighted that Jackie was able to join us for an early evening reception and prize-giving for the winners of Song of Peebles – a Peebles Creative Place competition that invited local writers to tell their story of the town in poetry, prose and short stories.

Entries arrived from as far afield as West Linton and Hawick, although the short-listed winners were all from Peebles itself. Congratulations to Pat Goodacre who took first prize for her poem, The Path I Tread – a delightful piece of writing that charted her response to the history of Peebles and how ancient pathways remain present today. The second prize was shared by Philip Hutton, for The Wiring and the Current, and Jackie Argent, for The Three Bridges and the Three Fishes. Also highly commended was Claire Blyth for her piece, I’ve Walked This Floor.

Victoria Hardcastle, one of three judges for the competition, was hugely impressed with the standard of writing on show. “The winning entry was a very refined piece of work, like a finely polished piece of marble,” she commented. “Even so, it was a difficult choice to make as all four pieces were of a very high standard – I’ve kept them all as they each demand re-reading.”

Once the prizes had been presented, the winners and audience were able to mingle and chat with Jackie Kay before she left to prepare for her appearance in the main auditorium later. As a special thank you to Jackie for her participation in the prize-giving, local harpist Esther Swift – herself a major talent – played and sang two of her own haunting compositions from a CD entitled Fiere, named after one of Jackie’s poems. It was a fitting way to round off a special evening.

For more pictures from this and an earlier reception for winners of the Write Lines teenage writing competition, click here