Harry Josephine Giles, Etzali Hernández, Michael Lee Richardson and Garry Mac are all present on the final day of the Aye Write Festival in Glasgow. They are here to read from and discuss the publication of the queer writing anthology We Were Always Here. The book was recently released by local publisher 404 Ink and features a variety of LGBTQ+ writers based in Scotland. Artist and writer Gary Mac begins the event by reading from his introduction to the anthology. The intro looks to the future and raises anticipation for the writing that is featured within.
Etzali Hernández is a poet and they contributed four poems to We Were Always Here and also took part in a mentorship scheme where Harry Josephine Giles offered support and guidance. Etzali reads their poem Daughters of God and it is a personal and exciting piece that looks at family and relationships. The powerful and intimate language continues with What I see When I see You. Etzali Hernández is a great reader of their work and can capture emotions with beauty and a distinct personality. Harry Josephine Giles is a poet and performer and reads a selection from their Abolish the Police series of poems, one of which found their way into the We Were Always Here anthology. The poems have a defiant and political edge that ask the reader to pay attention and think about society and the role we play within it.
During the Q&A questions on inspiration and motivation spark an interesting conversation. Harry Josephine states that “I wanted to confront the reality of violence” and that “poetry is a means of writing through emotional, political and societal politics.” The idea of perseverance and change is evident in their work and the anthology as a whole. Gary Mac noted that “When I read the book I realised it wasn’t a typical collection of stories” and when asked about editing the collection Michael Lee Richardson states that they “wanted to read something that is different” and this inspired what was included in the collection. The idea of new and interesting writing is enthused within all the contributions to collection and the readings this evening only give a taster of the variety of diverse voices that are featured.
The event ends with a screening of the short film My Loneliness is Killing Me, directed by Tim Courtney and written by We Were Always Here co-editor Michael Lee Richardson. The film presents a lonely queer character called Elliott who takes to Grindr to find a hook up for the evening. The encounter sparks a dark emotion that conjures up a variety of feelings that convey the venerability that people can feel at trying times.