Prisons, historic cinema and children's hospital to host Edinburgh book festival events

The Edinburgh International Book Festival has revealed plans to stage special events in prisons, a historic cinema and a children’s hospital when it returns next month.

Saughton Prison will be hosting Edinburgh International Book Festival events next month. Picture: Scott Louden

Guest authors appearing during the revival of the city’s annual literary celebration will be going behind bars in Edinburgh, Perth and Cornton Vale as part of the festival’s outreach work.

The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, which dates back to 1939, will be playing host to a pilot series of screening of live events from the festival’s new home at Edinburgh College of Art.

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A new self-guided walking tour of the Tollcross area, created by photographer Alicia Bruce and writer Eleanor Thom, will be launched to coincide with the festival’s relocation there, while events will be staged at Edinburgh’s new Royal Hospital for Children.

The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, will be hosting screenings of events for the book festival as part of a new pilot project next month.

Special events being held under the Citizen and Story Nation strands of this year’s festival include the launch of a new short story collection inspired by the city and an exploration of how much progress has been made in tackling poverty, social injustice and inequality in Edinburgh over the last two decades.

Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Irvine Welsh, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Sara Sheridan and Anne Hamilton are all due to to take part in the “One City” event.

Writer Jenni Fagan, Caleb Femi and Graeme Armstrong will be exploring what home, environment and community will all mean in a post-pandemic world in “Take Your Place.”

R-Words, a “mass participatory poetry project” created by theatre director and writer Ross Mackay, will culiminate with community writing groups reading some of the final works on stage.

Noelle Cobden, communities programme director at the book festival, said: “Community is at the very heart of the festival.

"We’re committed to diversifying audiences and expanding engagement across Edinburgh and this year, following our move to Edinburgh College of Art, we have been working to build ties with our new community in Tollcross. It is an opportunity to continue focusing on elevating and amplifying local voices across the city.”

Anna Beedham, enterprise director at The Birks Cinema, said: "I'm really excited to work in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival to bring this pilot programme to the screen.

"I look forward to welcoming our audiences, and visitors back into our unique venue, to experience a literary treat or three."


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