Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know the Association for Scottish Literature, the educational charity that places Scottish writing – both classic and contemporary – at the heart of its work.
What’s your story?
The Association for Scottish Literature (formerly the Association for Scottish Literary Studies) is an educational charity. Founded in 1970, we promote the study, teaching and writing of Scotland’s literature and languages, by publishing classic and contemporary Scottish writing, scholarly journals, teaching notes, and study guides to major Scottish authors.
Tell us about some of your key stories and books.
For a small organisation we produce quite a broad range of titles, from our scholarly journals Scottish Literary Review and Scottish Language, to academic titles such as our International Companions to Scottish Literature series, to our Scotnotes series of study guides for school pupils and undergraduates. In our series of Annual Volumes we publish works of Scottish literature which merit a fresh presentation to a modern audience – such as Susan Ferrier’s extremely funny 1818 novel Marriage, or Dràma na Gàidhlig: Ceud Bliadhna air an Àrd-ùrlar / A Century of Gaelic Drama, or A Kist o Skinklan Things: an anthology of Scots poetry from the first and second waves of the Scottish renaissance. We also support contemporary writing: our annual anthology of new short fiction and poetry New Writing Scotland has been on the go now for forty years, and we’re proud to include some of Scotland’s leading literary lights among our past (and current!) contributors.
What draws you to the series and topics you publish?
In our educational work we’re looking for academic excellence: we’re very fortunate to have the help and support of some of the leading scholars and teachers working on Scottish literature and languages around the world. With our Annual Volumes, we aim to show the rich diversity of Scotland’s literary traditions; a lot of really excellent older work, especially by women writers, all too often gets ignored by later generations! With New Writing Scotland, our editors select the best new poetry and prose from the hundreds of anonymous submissions we receive each year, in English, Gaelic, and Scots. With a regular turnover of editorship, New Writing Scotland is eclectic and always open to innovation.
What stories and books should we look forward to or check out this year?
Earlier this year we published Jacobean Parnassus: Scottish Poetry from the Reign of James I, edited by Alasdair A. MacDonald – bringing a whole range of poets and poetry out of historical obscurity, and showing how Scotland’s literary culture developed following the Union of the Crowns in 1603. There’s also the fortieth anniversary volume of New Writing Scotland, edited by Rachelle Atalla, Marjorie Lotfi, and Maggie Rabatski, entitled nobody remembers the birdman, with some stunningly good poetry, short fiction, drama, and non-fiction in English, Gaelic, and Scots, from forty-five writers. Our series of Scotnotes study guides continues to expand, with number 43 in the series out this summer on The Poetry and Drama of Jackie Kay, and we’ve just published the eighth title in our International Companions to Scottish Literature series, on Nineteenth-Century Scottish Literature. Coming up we’ll have collections of essays on Christianity in Scottish Literature, and Writing Scottishness: Literature and the Shaping of Scottish National Identities. And our free online magazine The Bottle Imp has just reached its thirtieth issue (suitably enough on “Scotland’s Stories”) with another issue due before Christmas!