Kevin MacNeil, an internationally published writer of poetry,
prose and drama who placed first in the 2000
edition of the prestigious Tivoli Prize for Young European Poets, will be
in Malta between 26 and 31 July 2001. Kevin MacNeil has been invited to
Malta by Inizjamed in collaboration with the British Council.
In Malta, MacNeil will lead a series of four workshops in creative writing at the MITP in Valletta and he will take part in a public discussion on cultural identity at the Bay Street Theatre on Friday 27 July and a literary performance called “Gżejjer” (Islands) on 31 July at the University of Malta as part of the Evenings on Campus summer festival.
and Rock Stars
MacNeil (in Gaelic Caoimhin MacNčill)
was born on the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis (Scotland) and and
writes in English and Gaelic. He was educated at the Nicolson Institute,
University of Edinburgh and Sabhal Mňr Ostaig. He is the first person
from Scotland to win the prestigious Tivoli Europa Giovani International
Poetry Prize. He is currently living on the Isle of Skye, where he is
employed as the inaugural Iain Crichton Smith Writing Fellow (writer in
residence for the Highlands area of Scotland). He is a founder member of
the trip-hop poetry band Tomorrowscope.
His work has been translated into 10 languages.
Despite his young age, MacNeil is an experienced creative writing tutor and he has taught writing skills all over the UK to people of all backgrounds and ages. He is a performer of poetry and prose readings who has read in a number of countries and venues from a small bookshop to the Royal Festival Hall, from a tiny café to an Italian amphitheatre. He has also read at many festivals including the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Clerkenwell Literary Festival, the Ledbury Poetry Festival, and the Brighton Do Tongues Festival. He has toured Ireland on the Cuairt Nam Bŕrd poetry and music tour and has already read in the US, Canada, and Colombia this year.
In June MacNeil was invited to Colombia to take part in one of the world's most important poetry festivals. The two-week International Poetry Festival of Medellin, funded by the Colombian Promoteo organisation, was set up to give hope to a people whose lives are tainted by violence, drugs and corruption. MacNeil is the only Scottish poet invited to join the best poets from five continents spreading a message of hope.
is a huge honour for me," said MacNeil. "This festival shows
just how poetry can make a difference to people's lives. Many tens of
thousands of people attend the festival, which proves how meaningful it is
to them. In a statement published before his departure for Colombia,
MacNeil stated that he loves and was “looking forward to a memorable and
life-enriching fortnight. It is very inspiring to me as a writer that
poetry has the strength to bring people together in this way and generate
a lasting optimism."
The festival came into
being in 1991 and has hosted the finest poets from 67 countries, including
Nobel Prize winning writers. According to the festival's director, Fernando
Rendon: "The festival arose
from a proposal to overthrow the wall of terror and fear imposed by the
internal feuds of our country. Among other things, poetry is an act of
profound communication. When this communication occurs in a community,
very strong connections are possible: it's a ritual in which people's
dreams and hopes are shared as well as their deepest and most pressing
On his return to Scotland, MacNeil described his visit to Colombia as “unforgettable - an incredible experience.” People are “beautiful and friendly” and “poets are treated like rock stars in Colombia - on Sunday 10 June I read to 10,000 people in an amphitheatre. They shower you with presents after each reading e.g. flowers, rings, bracelets, etc.”
the Poet Stereotype
In the fields of television and film, he wrote and presented a special feature about the arts in Scotland for the BBC television programme “Eorpa”; he designed, researched, shot, directed and edited a weekly strand on a children’s programme; he has researched, translated scripts (with suggested improvements), operated puppet and assistant floor managed on a pre-school children’s programme; and he has played the lead male role in a groundbreaking Gaelic short film. He has also appeared in an Italian film and a Gaelic drama and many times on television (BBC 2, STV, Grampian) either to promote his work or to discuss literature. He wrote and presented a radio programme about Gaelic poetry for Radio Scotland and was commissioned to write a story for BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal for the millennium, which was broadcast in December 1999.
Kevin MacNeil’s publications include his prize-winning book of poetry Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides (Canongate Books 1998); Wish I Was Here (ed. by Kevin MacNeil and Alec Finlay, Pocketbooks 2000), a book of poems by Scots of bicultural and/or bilingual background, like Gaels and Asian-Scots, with a large number of specially-commissioned photographs and a free c.d.; Baile Beag Gun Chrěochan/A Little Borderless Village (ed. by Kevin MacNeil, Highland Council 2000); Dalle Ebridi A Malta (main contributor, Sensibili alle Foglie 2000); Be Wise Be Otherwise (Canongate Books, Summer 2001), a book which MacNeil himself describes as "a semi-serious and semi-funny book of thoughts, ideas, suggestions and advice"; Singing for the Blue Men (forthcoming), a novel; and The Collected Stories of Iain Crichton Smith (ed. By Kevin MacNeil - Birlinn Publications, summer 2001).
to my work have been - so far, gratifyingly favourable!” writes MacNeil.
“I had no idea what kind of reaction Love and Zen in the Outer
Hebrides would get when it was first published. Obviously I hoped it
would do well. It was not particularly widely reviewed, but it has sold
very well - mainly due to word of mouth and I'm pleased about that. I find
it amusing - but not surprising - that its greatest recognition has come
from another country. I'm quite sure that there are people who do not like my work.
Gaels, for example, can be very traditional and there are some people who
do not like Gaelic poetry unless it is in a traditional, singable form.
But I want to add to the Highland literary tradition, not rely on it.”
his latest book, Be Wise Be Otherwise (Canongate, 2001), what
MacNeil describes as a “very
different book to Love and
More information about Kevin MacNeil and his works and about his public commitments in Malta are available from the Inizjamed website at www.inizjamed.cjb.net. One can also write to email@example.com.