A Week of Spoken Word

Nov 4 2013 | By More

A taste of Edinburgh’s spoken word scene

Edinburgh’s stages are alive with all kinds of different performance. Saturday’s launch of Discover 21 was marked with an equal helping of poetry slam and theatre extracts. Here, occasional Æ reviewer and poetry performer J. A. Sutherland casts an eye over what is going down this week.

On Sunday night, in the back room of a wee pub in a Musselburgh back-street, I joined a jolly bunch of writers, rowers, musicians and listeners for an evening known as the Musselburgh Hot-Pot.

The theme was sea-shanties, which explained the rowers, but the floor was open to all performers, whether of words or music. There were songs, stories, poems, costume, a clarsach, and props.

This is a monthly gathering, cobbled together by local 50-word story-writer – “yes, 50 words,” he tells us, “because I am that sad!’” – Stephen Barnaby. You could say this event, like its host, is a little unusual, but in fact it is one of many similar spoken-word stews bubbling up around Edinburgh, whether as informal gatherings, slams, open mic nights, or showcase performances.

Take this week for starters. Every Monday, in Henry’s Cellar Bar, Morrison St, the Anti-Hoot Open Stage invites anyone to perform a short set. Whether songwriters, poets, magicians, comics or karaoke crooners, the only rule is that the audience actually listens to each act. It’s free, informal, and without letting on, a scouting-ground for new local artists.

On Tuesday, just down the road at Tollcross, there is another monthly Open Mic run by Inky Fingers. Predominantly poetry, although short prose and flash fiction feature, this is another supportive group giving new and established writers the chance to air their work in the friendly, trendy Forest Café.

This brings us to Wednesday’s bumper menu. First, the monthly poetry showcase at the National Library of Scotland, Tricolour. As the name suggests, there are three poets featured, each a contrast of colour and flavour. This week the host, slam-champion Graham Hawley, will present Morag Edward, Anita Govan and Richard Medrington.

Later that same evening comes 10Red – ten poets reading for ten minutes each – at The Persevere on Easter Road. Hosted by Lara S. Williams & Kevin Cadwallender (of Red Squirrel Press), this is an equal serving of new, emerging, and local writers sharing a space with established, published and (possibly) familiar poets. An evening devoid of pretence: just words, spoken. And a bit of music. And a raffle.

There is another thriving scene brewing new poets in Edinburgh University. The ‘Lit Soc’ holds Open Mic nights, called Soap-Box. As the name suggests, this is an open-stage for anyone who wants to get up and give out – with an emphasis on ‘performance poetry’ (as opposed to ‘literary verse.’) This Thursday, at the Pleasance Courtyard.

To round off a typical week, the nomadic Caesura will present four writers in the upper room of the Artisan Bar, London Road, and provide a rich diet of the most eclectic and entertaining performance-art you are likely to see in Edinburgh. Introduced by Graeme Smith, this monthly event, run by Goodnight Press, begins around 8pm – although the start-time, like the venue, can be a movable feast.

This, it must be said, is a mere taster, not a definitive list. If your appetite has been whetted, why not pop along for a poem somewhere – or return here for more rich poetic pickings.

Listings Monday 4 – Friday 8 November 2013:

Anti-Hoot Open Stage: Every Monday. Henry’s Cellar Bar, 16 Morrison St, EH3 8BJ
Inky Fingers Monthly, Tuesday. 8pm. Forest Cafe, 141 Lauriston Place, Tollcross, EH3 9JN
Tricolour.Monthly. First Wednesday of the month. 6.30pm. National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW
10Red  Wednesday 6. One-off. 7.30pm for 8pm start. £3. The Persevere Easter Road, Edinburgh, EH6 8HT
Soap-Box Monthly, Thursday. 7.30pm. Pleasance Cabaret Bar, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ
Caesura. Second Friday of the month. 7pm. The Artisan Bar, London Road, EH7 5BQ.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. November digest | GOODNIGHT PRESS | Nov 12 2013
  1. Stephen Barnaby says:

    Thanks for that JA!You’ve done us all proud! Most grateful! I’d better get me finger out and work out how to ‘tag’ the Hotpot…