Unicorn hosts evening of prose and poetry ahead of Dundee Literary Festival

An inaugural evening celebrating literature from Tayside and Fife took place on Europe’s oldest warship.

The Unicorn was built from 1,000 oak trees in 1822 and “embodies a significant cultural legacy” from the last days of sail.

To celebrate its legacy, the first time the vessel witnessed a night of poetry and prose on the high seas or at least the Victoria Dock.

The group Hotchpotch, made up of people from across Courier Country, welcomed writers to the frigate.

Wednesday marks the beginning of the Dundee Literary Festival, which draws visitors from across the world.

Household names on the five-day programme include actors turned authors Nick Frost and Gregor Fisher, award-winning Scottish writers Jackie Kay and Janice Galloway, and dozens of other events.

Organiser Gavin Cameron said the city is “one of the best places for a writer to be” at the moment.

He said: “Alongside Hotchpotch, the city has seen a regular Literary Lock-In established at the George Orwell, while the Silent Reading Party is fast becoming a fixture at Shrink to Fit.

“The flagship event of the year is the upcoming literary festival.

“This attracts established writers like Janice Galloway, and also new voices such as Oliver Langmead, a graduate from the renowned M.Litt writing practice and study course at the University of Dundee.

“But author visits happen all year round 2015 alone has brought Roddy Doyle and Jeanette Winterson to the city.”

More information is available at www.literarydundee.co.uk.

Hotchpotch runs an “open mic” literary night on a monthly basis, and its next meeting is on Monday, November 16 from 7-9pm at the Burgh Coffee House.

A spokesman said: “We started up four years ago and had an idea of Dundee as a central, welcoming place that lives and breathes next to the River Tay.

“This has certainly been borne out in developments since, with the excitement about the V&A, City of Culture bid, the Waterfront development, happenings at the McManus Gallery and things across the city which are maybe less obvious to people.”

Last night’s event was made possible by the Unicorn’s learning and engagement officer, Billy Rough.

As a result of its permanent and distinctive roof, Unicorn is considered to be the best preserved of all historic wooden ships from her era.

It was saved from scrap by the Unicorn Preservation Society in 1968, and local hopes remain that it will form part of Dundee’s finished Waterfront with its other historic ship, RRS Discovery.

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