We just had a wonderful weekend in Callander at Sally and Ian King's Poetry in the Garden Festival. I notice a fair degree of cynicism about festivals in some quarters - Susan Hill is really bitter about them, but this one would revive the most jaded publisher. There were about fifty poets all reading over the three days. Some of them are in groups like Clylevlom and Onya Wick, but most were individual performances. There were young poets, old poets, Gaelic poets, Scots poets, English poets, some writing in dialect, some in translation. We had a poetry and jazz session, exhibitions from publishers, and a discussion on poetry and fiction. We met up with old friends and made new ones. We walked around the town, enjoyed Sally's garden, bought books from the shop, and ate a tremendous amount of lovely food.
And get this. The whole festival was free. No-one making money out of it at all. It was just for the love of poetry and friendship.
All I can say is, if poetry in Scotland survives the credit crunch, climate change and cultural meltdown we seem to be going through, we'll all have Sally and Ian to thank.