Wordly Wisdom: Multum in Parvo!

Dec 2 2013 | By More

Poetry Clashes, Slams, and Death Matches

Talk about busy, Edinburgh’s poets and performance wordsmiths have a somewhat full card this week. Resident poet J. A. Sutherland picks through the offerings – and looks back at last week’s.

It is inevitable that, with so much activity on the spoken word scene in Edinburgh, one is spoilt for choice. Last weekend there were multiple clashes on several evenings, some of which popped up unexpectedly.

Given that we were in Book Week Scotland, words were to be expected, spoken or otherwise. At Summerhall, another new zine was launched by Dactyl, with the usual combination of readings, cake, and sparkling wine.

As I have suggested previously, pamphlets, art-books and zines are a great platform for emerging writers. The previously-mentioned Circus Anti-Zine from the Antisocial Writers Club is available on www.antizine.com.

Elsewhere, the writers were not so much emerging as being summoned from the grave. The Dead Poets Slam gave Inky Fingers participants the chance to perform, in friendly competition, work of the deceased. So long as they dressed appropriately. Local poet Anne Connelly brought her fellow countryman, Yeats, to life and was crowned slam-champion. One entertaining runner-up, Ariadne Cass-Maran (of Illicit Ink) disinterred that much-maligned poet, William McGonagall, adding a level of her native Australian humour by engaging the audience in a drinking-game.

On Sunday, a triple-clash gave us Neu Reekie at Summerhall, a select gathering in Staggs for the Musselburgh Hot-Pot,  and Illicit Ink  at the Bongo Club. The latter presented a macabre selection of Toy Stories – including Zombie Elves, dancing-bear cupcakes, and an extremely dark take on Barbie – not suitable for children. Nor squeamish adults either!

Everybody lie down and noone gets hurt

Promoting and programming spoken word events with so much going on is a minefield, yet these events are never in competition, even if the audience sometimes overlaps. This week is a particular case in point, beginning with a launch of a new pamphlet by a champion of slam and spoken word, Colin McGuire.

Everybody lie down and noone gets hurt is Colin’s new pamphlet published by Red Squirrel, and is bound to raise eyebrows and laughter. Having instigated the Talking Heids evenings at Sofi’s Bar, it’s natural that he will launch the pamphlet in this poetry-friendly pub (Tuesday, 7pm).

Another publishing platform that new writers (myself included) need to engage with is new e-publisher, Thistle In The Kiss. Also on Tuesday, they will be hosting an event highlighting authors Andrew Jamieson and Greg Whelan who will be appearing to discuss their latest projects in the cosy surroundings of The Cellar Monkey, the basement of The Argyle Pub. Where there will, no-doubt, be free-flowing conversation, drink and food.

On at the same time, on same evening, the gruesome-sounding Literary Death Match will be taking place – suitably enough in the Voodoo Rooms. Here, authors will be battling it out with words, wit and, finally, with general silliness. The night features four writers reading their own wonderful tales for seven minutes or less, judged by three all-star judges: Roland Gulliver, Jo Caulfield and Richard Wiseman. Two finalists then compete in the finale, a vaguely-literary game that will steal your affection and make your heart pound.

Wednesday evening sees another triple-clash. Red Squirrel’s well-established evening, 10Red, with ten writers performing for ten minutes each returns to the Persevere Pub on Easter Road, hosted by Kevin Cadwallender.

Meanwhile a new venture in spoken word cabaret, The Accelerator, is kicking off at the Canon’s Gait, hosted by Jem Rolls and Bram E. Gieben. With such a stellar line-up of performers, it is a good thing that the same event will be hosted in Glasgow the next day – if beyond the geographical scope of this blog.

Some kind of poetic martial art

While spoken word clashes, the collaboration between words and images is being celebrated in The Written Image. Edinburgh Printmakers has teamed up with the Poetry Library and created a fascinating and vibrant collaboration between artists and poets, which is on show at the Printmakers gallery until December 21. There’s a taster of the prints here: www.thewrittenimage.tumblr.com.

These words/images will be brought to life, or at least, given voice, on Wednesday. Appropriately enough it is named The Spoken Image and takes place at Inspace.

Edinburgh is, without doubt, a city of poets, and our very own Makar, Ron Butlin, is reading his work at the Central Library on Thursday. Understandably, given Ron’s popularity, the event has sold out, but the University Lit Soc proves continually that fledgling poets can be equally popular. This week’s Soapbox, also on Thursday, is also guaranteed to be heaving, not least because the poet who I lauded last week, Rachel Amey, will be the featured performer.

Finally, to end the week, Inky Fingers have a smashing programme of events. Celebrate! is an entire weekend of spoken words, with several Open Mic evenings, poetry takeovers, and a Renga Walk on Saturday, 11am – 3pm, Rosslin Glen. This latter might sound like some kind of poetic martial art but is, in fact, a collaborative composition created by poets, walking through seasons and nature. It will be led by nature-poet and renga-expert, Colin Will.

It pleases me to end this round-up with a harmonious event, but I can’t help thinking that, like that classic form of poetry, the haiku, when it comes to spoken word, less is more. Or should be.

Listings Monday 2 – Sunday 8 December 2013:

Anti-Hoot Open Stage: Every Monday, 8pm. Henry’s Cellar Bar, 16 Morrison St, EH3 8BJ
Monday and monthly 6.30pm. National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW
Launch of Everybody lie down and noone gets hurt: Tuesday, 7pm. Sofi’s Bar, 63-65 Henderson St, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6ED
◉ Thistle In The Kiss End-Of-Year Author Panel Tuesday, 7pm. The Cellar Monkey, 15 Argyle Place, EH9 1JJ
Literary Death Match Tuesday 7pm for 8pm. £6/£8 on the door. The Voodoo Rooms, 19a W Register St, Edinburgh EH2 2AA
10Red: Wednesday, 7.30pm for 8pm start. £3. The Persevere, Easter Road, Edinburgh, EH6 8HT
Accelerator: Wednesday, 8.30pm. £4. The Canons’ Gait, 232 Cannongate, EH8 8DQ
Spoken Image: Thursday, 7pm. Inspace Inspace, 1 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB
Ron Butlin Event: Thursday 7pm. Central Library 7-9 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EG
Soapbox Open Mic – Home: Monthly, Thursday. 7.30pm. Pleasance Cabaret Bar, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ
Celebrate!: Friday – Sunday. Various times and places. All Free. All great.


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