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Focail Eile

2018-11-05 19:45 —

Words from the Basque Country 

The College heard last week how we could participate in a European project promoting literature in Europe's minority languages. We were visited by Imanol Galdos, who is Deputy Director of Donostia Kultura, the Department for Culture at San Sebastian City Council. Donostia (San Sebastian in Spanish) is a lively city in the Basque Country, and the Department for Culture is the largest within the Council, with 260 employees.

With such a high priority given to culture, it's no surprise that Donostia Kultura is the lead partner for Beste Hitzak or Other Words, a significant European project which is providing opportunities for writers in European minority languages. Up to now, writers from Ireland, Slovenia, Macedonia, Friesland, Curaçao (as a constitutent of the Netherlands) and the Basque Country itself have all had opportunities to undertake a residency in one of the partner countries and to produce new writing.

As a part of the project the work is being published in the writer's own language and also in English. Although Irish has been an integral part of the project, Scottish Gaelic has not so far.  However, the organisers were very keen for Scottish Gaelic to be included, and earlier this year they sought submissions from Gaelic writers to take part as a 'guest language'. The lucky guest was none other than our very own Rody Gorman.  You will surely remember those regular e-mails with short poems arriving from Maribor, the Slovenian city which hosted Rody for a productive residency during the summer. 

Back in July Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was invited to a meeting about the future of the project, and Mark Wringe travelled to Leeuwarden (joint European City of Culture this year), where he learned that the College already has links with Irish writers involved in the the project. Two of them attended some of our short courses over the summer, while poet Aifric MacAodha, who was 'in residence' in Leeuwarden at the time of the meeting, knows us well. Indeed, her brother was a full-time student here some years ago. 

Imanol and the Other Words team are currently preparing a funding bid to Creative Europe to continue the project for another three years, and they want to see Scottish Gaelic included as a full partner. Imanol's visit was an opportunity to learn more about the College and our commitment to promoting Gaelic culture and supporting new Gaelic writing.

The College is enthusiastic about Other Words, and Imanol was particularly interested to hear Donnie Munro, Sophie Stephenson and Kath Macleod explain some of the initiatives in the Arts which are based at the College or in which we are involved. Sophie (who took pictures of the meeting) had just returned from another trip to the Basque Country, where she has participated in several festivals, and she was able to welcome Imanol in the Basque language. Later, when Mark and Kath brought Imanol to the FAS building as part of a tour around the College we discovered Alasdair MacKay has particularly good memories of busking with his pipes in Donostia!

There is lots of detail about the Project on its website, http://otherwordsliterature.eu. 
 
Thank you to everyone who met Imanol Galdos during his visit, and especially to Kath Macleod for organising the details. We all hope the project will extend to a second phase, with Gaelic writing and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig as an integral part of it. This was Imanol's first visit to Skye and to the Highlands, and we certainly hope he'll come back.