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Cultural celebrations to mark 30 years of Perth and Pskov as twin cities

Iliyana Nedkova has helped pull the celebrations together.
Iliyana Nedkova has helped pull the celebrations together.

A cross-culture poetry night will mark the first in a string of events celebrating 30 years of Perth being twinned with Pskov this week.

‘Zoom in on Pushkin and Soutar’ is the inaugural of the Friends of Pskov monthly virtual gatherings, aimed at building bridges between the Fair City and its twin in Western Russia.

The inaugural event, to be held on Monday night will see poets and linguists team up to share in the parallels between Russian literary great Alexander Pushkin and local great William Soutar.

Pushkin often retreated to a dacha – a rural home – in the hinterland near Pskov, while Soutar spent his whole life in Perth.

Their work will be celebrated as Russian and Scots poets come together to recite their works with a twist.

Perth poet and Makar at the Writers Federation (Scotland) Jim C Mackintosh has translated Pushkin’s famed Devils poem into Scots with the help of curator Iliyana Nedkova.

He said: “Everyone is aware of Perth’s twinning with Aschaffenburg. The city is also twinned with Pskov and I was asked before lockdown to be a part of the 30th anniversary celebrations.

“I was delighted to become a Twin City Ambassador.

“The links between Scotland and Russia and the Baltics go back three or four hundred years. There is a long history of cultural and commercial links. [Robert] Burns is big in Russia.

“Pushkin stayed near Pskov in what we’d call a button ben, and Soutar wrote in the same style as him.

“I’m a great lover of Pushkin’s short stories and I’ve translated his poem The Devils into Scots – The Hornies now.

“You never finish translating, you’re always tweaking it. I’ve worked on it with Iliyana to make sure it’s what he meant and not a translation of a translation.”

Broadcaster Dr Billy Kay will discuss the cultural links between Scotland and Russia focusing on research which culminated in his book The Scottish World: A Journey into the Scottish Diaspora, while award-winning Perth pupils will recite Soutar’s works and a host of others join the celebrations.

Iliyana, the former curator at Horsecross’s Threshold Artspace, said this will be the first chapter in building a bridge “on the foundations of contemporary art.”

She said: “We wanted to do a monthly gathering and take back the word Zoom. This will be a Zoom in cultural luminaries.

“We were hoping to visit Pskov before the pandemic, so we’ve been left scunnered.

“We’ve had to be adaptable and this has been a long time in the making.

“On the 15th of every month, we’re planning to have a different cultural ambassador and bring in contemporary voices.

“Our next one will be about bridging the River Tay and the River Velikaya which connects Pskov with Tartu in Estonia. They’re already twinned so it will be like triplet cities.”

Registration for the online event is available at eventbrite.co.uk/e/zoom-in-on-pushkin-and-soutar-tickets-145225592657

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