Created by the Edinburgh International Book Festival and supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund through Creative Scotland, Outriders sees five writers from Scotland undertake five extraordinary journeys across the Americas. This project explores the idea that in turbulent and shifting times, writers can contribute immeasurably to our understanding of the world, revealing untold stories and offering an entirely new perspective on places and events. 

Harry Giles, Jenni Fagan, Malachy Tallack, Stef Smith and Kevin MacNeil will each travel along predetermined routes in Canada, the USA, Mexico and Argentina respectively, each accompanied by a local writer exploring the idea that two people can share the same experience, yet produce entirely different creative responses. All ten writers will appear in a series of events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August to discuss their experiences and share what they learnt about the places and the people they encountered. 

Harry Giles, a performer and writer from Orkney based in Edinburgh, and Governor General’s Award Winning Métis writer Katherena Vermette, from Winnipeg, will travel from Montreal, QC through Winnipeg, then to Churchill, MB looking at minority and regional languages and the cultures that grow around them. Giles is looking to confront Scotland’s legacy as a colonising country, especially the role that Orkney migrants played in the colonisation of Hudson Bay. Katherena, also obsessed with all things HBC (Hudson's Bay Company), is currently immersed in Métis / Michif history. The Métis are the nation of people that emerged from Scottish, English and French fur traders and Indigenous people of the area, Cree and Anishnaabe. Their language, culture and systems of governance all reflect the partnership of these diverse groups of people. Katherena is a member of the Metis Nation of Manitoba and a descendent of these unions.

Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, states: 

Outriders is one of our most ambitious initiatives to date. It offers five Scottish writers priceless experiences and material for their writing, and it will give Scottish audiences new perspectives on America at a time of great political change across the continent. But there’s more: Outriders will generate long-term Transatlantic partnerships between the writers as well as opportunities to present their work in Canada, the USA, Mexico and Argentina. I can’t wait to hear about each writer’s American odyssey, and this project also looks set to have an impact long after the journeys themselves are over. 

For more information about Outriders and to follow the authors’ journeys, click here. You can also visit our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for daily updates. 

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Biographies

Harry Giles is a writer and performer from Orkney, based in Edinburgh. Their latest publication is Tonguit from Freight Books, shortlisted for the 2014 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and the 2016 Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and they were the 2009 BBC Scotland slam champion. Harry founded Inky Fingers Spoken Word and co-directs the performance platform ANATOMY; their participatory theatre has toured festivals across Europe, including Forest Fringe (UK), NTI (Latvia) and CrisisArt (Italy); and their performance What We Owe was picked by the Guardian's best-of-the-Fringe 2013 roundup – in the “But Is It Art?” category. 

Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her first book, North End Love Songs (The Muses' Company) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her first novel, The Break (House of Anansi) was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize. Her National Film Board short documentary, This River won the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Short.

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