Before arriving in Glasgow from America, I knew the city had a strong literary tradition. It’s home to some incredible writers, including Louise Welsh, Liz Lochhead and Alasdair Gray. Yet I was still pleasantly surprised by how many opportunities the city offers to meet, mingle and work with other writers. Although I moved here to study a postgrad Masters Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow having already studied English Literature at the University of St Andrews, I’ve discovered many wonderful resources for writers outside the classroom, as well.
In the West End, there are numerous entertaining and engaging open mic nights. At the Rio Café, you can find the affable poet Robin Cairns hosting Last Monday at Rio, a free and thoroughly enjoyable open mic night where seasoned and brand new writers alike take the stage to share their work. Or you could head down to Inn Deep on Great Western Road, where Sam Small hosts a spoken word night on the second Tuesday of each month. The University of Glasgow’s Queen Margaret Union also offers a great Open Mic Night: Aloud. All of these events are lively and enjoyable affairs, whether you want to read your work or just sit back with a nice pint and enjoy some great poetry and prose.
There are also lots of events on in the city center at places like Stereo or The Old Hairdressers. You could go see some fast-paced spoken word poetry from Loud Poets, the popular group that was founded in Edinburgh, or a cabaret show put on by Rally and Broad. The High Flight, a fanzine of poetry and short fiction, also hosts events in the city center at Nice ‘N’ Sleazy’s. There are lots of events on at The Project Café and Tell it Slant poetry bookshop too. Or perhaps check out the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA), a creative hub for visual arts, film, writing, and music. It offers regular spoken word nights and is home to the Scottish Writers’ Center.
I’ve had great experiences attending events at many of these venues. However, I realize I’ve only skimmed the surface of all the literary happenings in the city. My next stop will be to check out Weegie Wednesdays, an event that began in 2007 to provide an opportunity for writers, publishers, booksellers and students the chance to get together once a month to talk about writing and publishing! For poetry fans, like myself, there’s also St Mungo’s Mirrorball, a great network for poets and poetry lovers. I’ve also heard good things about The Glad Café, located in Glasgow’s Southside, and about The Speculative Bookshop, who host events and bookstalls throughout the year with a focus on sci-fi and dystopian literature.
As I continue to live in Glasgow, I’m sure I’ll discover many new venues and literary events. This is a great city for writers. If you’re looking to have a career in writing, or any of the arts, I think it’s a wonderful place to live, work and be inspired.