Professor Louise Welsh, award-winning and bestselling author who teaches creative writing two days a week at her Alma Matter, the University of Glasgow, knows the importance of a good conversation. 

That is why her speaker series Creative Conversations is now in its third year running, to begin again next Monday. 

The series invites a plethora of Scottish writers and artists to speak about their work or an aspect of their work to an audience who are either willing to converse, or just listen. 

“Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to be a student or an alumni, or know a lot about literature. You can bring lunch or a coffee and sit and let it wash over you, or you can ask a question. 

“It’s just a nice idea, a way of getting to hear about authors you may or may not know already: it’s a way to engage.”

The events are typically Glaswegian – after all, we are a nation born with the gift of the gab. 

The series will open on Monday in a spectacularly Glaswegian way, with a conversation from Behrouz Boochani, who is an an Iranian-Kurdish journalist, human rights defender, poet and film producer. Born in Western Iran, Behrouz was held in the Australian-run Manus Island detention centre from 2013 until its closure in 2017, and has remained incarcerated on the island since then. 

HeraldScotland: Behrouz Boochani will be the first speakerBehrouz Boochani will be the first speaker

“It is typically Glaswegian, as an audience engages with a writer who, through no fault of his own, is being held in prison in Manus Island,” said Louise. “His situation is a complete and utter nightmare.” 

“Behrouz is appearing virtually. You hear so much about the virtual world being terrible, but then it can bring Behrouz into the chapel and let people get to know about his writing and hear his story and what he has to tell us.”

Other writers who will take part in the series, which runs every Monday until December, include crime and history writer Sara Sheridan, artist and playwright Adura Onashile, and poet and artist Nick-E Melville. 

“What we try and do with our series is think about diversity: not just with people but the genre and the languages,” says Louise. 

“We really hope that people come along and they enjoy it, and there will always be something on the menu for everybody. We try and build that trust with the audience.” 

Knowing one’s audience is something that Louise is well acquainted with, since she has written over 10 books since her bestselling debut, The Cutting Room. The Conversations are great for artists who maybe need to get to know themselves and their own trade, too. 

“Having a stimulating conversation with different people every day shows that there are so many different ways of working, more that you can realise,” says Louise. 

HeraldScotland: Sara Sheridan is also speaking at the event. Picture: Robert PerrySara Sheridan is also speaking at the event. Picture: Robert Perry

“It’s not just for writers, but absolutely it helps your work”. 

The Creative Conversations series can satisfy a number of needs – from just hearing something different on your lunch break, to opening up the university campus to exposing oneself to a different type of literature than before. 

Fundamentally, though, it shows that the Glaswegian gift of the gab has not been lost over the digital chatter. 

“It would be a dream for me to get Behrouz Broochani on screen, and turn it to show him 300 people in Glasgow cheering him on.  

“He is persecuted for no reason except fleeing persecution, and there isn’t an end to his sentence. 
“It’s an outrage in terms of human rights. 

“I remember what Glasgow knew about Nelson Mandela renaming the square really gave him hope and strength. 

“If Behrouz sees 300 people listening to him, and thinking about his work, it would be amazing.”  

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