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Ullapool forges links with Baltic as new chapter opens for book festival

By Hector MacKenzie

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Shetland poet Roseanne Watt will be going to Tallinn next year as new exchange links are forged.
Shetland poet Roseanne Watt will be going to Tallinn next year as new exchange links are forged.

AN outward-looking Wester Ross book festival is opening a new chapter by forging links with a literary event in Estonia.

Ullapool Book Festival (UBF), which marked its 15th anniversary over the weekend, announced today that it is set to hook up with a similar event in Estonia's capital city, Tallinn.

Last yea,r author James Robertson, who has been a guest at both Ullapool Book Festival and HeadRead Literary Festival in Tallinn, told UBF that, having experienced both festivals, he thought they had much in common.

Although Tallinn, with a population of 414,000 is bigger than Ullapool (population 1500), he believes the two have a shared ethos and commitment to good writing and to readers and that both treat visiting authors extremely well.

That triggered an email conversation between Ullapool Book Festival chair Joan Michael and Krista Kaer, who is director of HeadRead Literary Festival. Krista visited Ullapool for the festival last weekend in a trip funded by The British Council.

The hope was that it might result in the development of cultural links between the north-west Highlands and the western Baltic. Now, a new cultural alliance has been established with Estonia – a twinning arrangement with HeadRead.

Ms Michael has been invited to the festival in Tallinn at the end of May next year. One of Ullapool’s guests this year, Shetland poet Roseanne Watt, who was winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Prize last year, has been invited by Krista Kaer to read at HeadRead next year. And an Estonian poet will be at Ullapool in 2020 (May 8-10).

Joan Michael said: “We feel that it is really important that cultural and other links are retained with Europe.We are delighted with the link we now have with Estonia and look forward to it flourishing over the years.

"We already have a well-established tradition of bringing Canadian authors to Ullapool and we have also invited writers from Guatemala, Catalonia, Palestine and Germany. We are a Highland festival with an international outlook."

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