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Poetry of Iain Banks to get first reading at city's book festival

The poetry of the late Scottish writer Iain Banks will be read in public for the first time at a special commemorative event at this year's Aye Write!

IAIN BANKS: Will be remembered when friends will read some of his poetry.
IAIN BANKS: Will be remembered when friends will read some of his poetry.

Glasgow Book Festival.

In the 2014 programme, avail­able exclusively in The Herald tomorrow, there are appearances by a host of writers, journalists, historians and commentators, including William McIlvanney, James Robertson, Liz Lochhead, Kirsty Wark, Tom Leonard, Iain Macwhirter, AL Kennedy, Margaret Drabble, Val McDermid, Alasdair Gray and Bernard MacLaverty.

The festival also features a celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela, a major debate on the independence referendum, and an appearance by Vicky Pryce, who was sentenced to eight months in prison with her former husband, MP Chris Huhne, for perverting the course of justice.

Also taking part will be comedian Frankie Boyle, who will talk about the works that influenced him most in a strand of events called The Books Who Made Me.

The festival runs from April 4 to 12 and the Remembering Iain Banks event will be on the first day. It will feature readings from friends, including the writers Ken MacLeod and Ron Butlin, with readings of his poetry as well as memories, recollections and "more than a few jokes".

A collection of poetry by Banks, Banks who died from cancer last June at the age of 59, is to be published in February next year. .

Publisher Little, Brown said the book would also feature poems by MacLeod, who will edit the collection.

MacLeod said that Banks, known for his fiction and science fiction, took his poetry "very seriously".

He said: "Like many of us, he started writing poetry at high school and he returned to it over the years. He would talk about it from time to time, and I know he worked on it.

"But after a time he had more or less stopped writing it: he felt with poetry that inspiration had to strike, where with prose you could always produce it if you really wanted to."

He said the event would be an emotional one, and added: "He took his poetry seriously, that is for sure. I also want to make it clear he was talking about publishing his poetry, along with mine, before he became ill.

"There will be readings at the event, and an element of personal recollection as well."

Tickets for Aye Write!, for which The Herald & Times is media partner, go on sale tomorrow morning and the full programme is available in tomorrow's Herald.

Karen Cunningham, director of the festival and head of Glasgow libraries, said it mixed the inter­national with the national and featured three Booker Prize winners, as well as a strong focus on Scottish writing.

The broad theme this year is a celebration of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and there will be a special event, Reporting The Games, to discuss the sporting occasion. It will be chaired by sports broadcaster Archie Macpherson.

Rosemary Goring, literary editor of The Herald, said: "There is a fresh feel to this year's programme, with its strong emphasis on ideas and discussions, as writers debate some of the most pressing issues facing us today.

"And, as always, it is good to see the high profile given to Scottish writers, who continue to give this festival its distinctively vibrant personality."

Stuart Kelly, programmer for the festival, said: "Aye Write! has always managed to balance the global and the local, and this year's programme encompasses everything from Burns forgeries and Glasgow architecture to Napoleon and the philosophy of self.

"With three Man Booker winners, representatives from South Africa, Pakistan, Malaysia and New Zealand, as well as exclusive previews of the poetry of Iain Banks and Alasdair Gray's autobiography, it offers the creme de la creme, to borrow a phrase from Edinburgh, of contemporary writing.

"I am especially pleased we have influential bloggers such as Jack Monroe and Laura Bates - this is a book festival embracing digital possibilities."

l Tickets can be bought from the website www.ayewrite.com or by calling 0141 353 8000 from tomorrow.

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