Aye Write! - festival programme highlights

THE seventh edition of literary festival Aye Write! returns to Glasgow this month to shine a light on Scotland’s rich literary traditions. The Scotsman picks some of the festival’s must-see events

Hugh McDiarmid and Scottish Literature (9 Mar, 7.30pm, £8/£7)

The 2012 Andrew Tannahill debate asks what influence Hugh McDiarmid, one of Scotland’s most totemic and controversial literary figures, has on a 21st century Scotland. Given the rising tide of the Scottish independence debate, this promises some particularly interesting - and no doubt conflicting - answers. A range of speakers will be present to opine on the debate, including Lesley Duncan, Janet Paisley, Scott Lyall, John Manson and Rab Wilson.

Alex Gray and Ian Rankin: New Scottish Crime (10 Mar, 3.30pm, £8/£7)

Any event hosting Ian Rankin is more or less guaranteed to be a big draw for crime literature buffs. Rankin will launch the second novel of his Malcolm Fox series, The Impossible Dead. Joining him will be Alex Gray, whose depictions of Glasgow have been said to be a match for Rankin’s nuanced portrayal of Auld Reekie. Her latest novel, A Pound of Flesh, treads similar territory to that of Rankin’s.

Football and Sectarianism (11 Mar, 3.30pm, £8/£7)

There are few more contemporaneous - not to mention controversial - discussions than those concerning the Old Firm. Alan Bissett, Rodge Glass and Richard Wilson will attempt to grapple with the monster that is sectarianism in Scottish football, as well as examining other forms in prejudice in football, those of homophobia and racism. The triumvirate will be joined by The Herald journalist Teddy Jamieson, author of Whose Side Are You On? Sport, The Troubles And Me.

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Aping Manking (11 Mar, 5.30pm, £8/£7)

Professor Raymond Tallis’s new book, Aping Mankind, is a formidable tome that seeks to deconstruct the notion that neuroscience and evolutionary theory alone can offer a full account of human behaviour. Quite a task, as you might imagine, but Tallis’s talk should offer an accessible introduction to a topic that drives at the foundations of who we are. The Scotsman’s Stuart Kelly will chair the debate.

George Wyllie (12 Mar, 7.30pm, £8/£7)

An idiosyncratic and irreverent presence in the Scottish cultural landscape, George Wyllie’s contributions to Scottish art are as important as they are visible - the running clock beside Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow and the Paper Boat are among Wyllie’s sculpted works. The evening will feature a presentation on these works, as well as poetry and essay readings, and extracts from his play, A Day Down A Goldmine. A star-studded lineup, which includes Fred MacAuley, Pat Kane and Stuart Hepburn, will feature.

Clyde-born and Clyde-built (15 Mar, 7.30pm, £8/£7)

Writer Ross Raising hosts a celebration of Glasgow’s Clyde and the ship-building community with which the area is inextricably linked. Raising’s new novel, Waterline, underpins the evening’s theme, while Maggie Craig offers an insight into the Red Clydeside movement via her new book, When The Clyde Ran Red. Readings from A Rose Loupt Oot, a collection of poems and songs that celebrate the Upper Clyde Shipbuilder’s work-in of 1971-2, will also feature from a variety of guests.

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Alistair Darling: Back from the Brink (17 Mar, 3.30pm, £8/£7)

Alistair Darling’s new book, Back from the Brink, offers a fascinating insight into the events leading up to the global financial crisis that fatally exposed the UK economy to recession. Darling will also give his verdict on the Coalition government’s track record on the economy thus far.

Pictures: Ian Rutherford & Jayne Wright