Wordly Wise: As one door closes?

May 3 2014 | By More

Reflections, precipitations and salutations

Rally & Broad: The Ampersand Edition

Rally & Broad: The Ampersand Edition

It is a sad day at Æ, where our resident poet, the one and only J. A. Sutherland, has decided that he will have to cease being resident. So here, for the May Day weekend, he says adieu or, we hope, à la prochaine.

Many months ago, chatting with Thom Dibdin who runs this website, I spoke of the profusion of poetry and spoken word events that go on in our City of Literature.

We may have been discussing the difference between words that are written to be read, or to be spoken. Perhaps we were talking about the similarities between ‘theatre’ and ‘spoken word.’ As a writer, I know there is often a distinction between poetry, literature, and drama – although I (attempt to) write all in all three disciplines.

What precipitated my contribution to this blog was the recognition that events I’d been attending and contributing to were all about performance. Not in the theatrical sense, nor in the same bag as traditional storytelling – although these cross-pollinate – but spoken word events, in their rich variety, bring words off the page and into the public domain, whether in a side-street pub, dingy club, theatre, or on the top of Arthur’s Seat.

The bonhomie experienced in the back room of the Stagg’s Head in Musselburgh, the Blind Poet on West Nicholson St. or the Red Room in Leith demonstrate support, respect, and enjoyment; this is equal to the excitement generated by ‘high-profile’ events such as Rally & Broad, Neu! Reekie!, or The Speakeasy. The only difference being that at, for example, the Antihoot or Blind Poetics, a ‘tip-box’ is passed around to help pay for the event, while others charge an entry-fee.

I’m not saying that those who do shouldn’t charge. But I think this wide-ranging form of entertainment should be given more recognition, and maybe funding too. In Waiting for Godot, Vladimir says, “You should have been a poet.” Estragon’s response is, “I was,” – then he gestures to his ragged clothes, adding: “Isn’t that obvious.”

Well, not all writers dress like tramps, but as Richard Holloway pointed out at the Scottish Parliament Education & Culture Committee, “poets do not make much money, but they make their nation greater, more beautiful and more compassionate.”

“it was the ‘market-speak’ of Creative Scotland that created a bad taste in the mouth.”

At many spoken word events (and this may be true of some of the smaller theatre ventures too) you often find people performing mainly to one another – a form of preaching to the converted. I’d be the last person to suggest that commercial results are an indicator of artistic success; after all, it was the ‘market-speak’ of Creative Scotland that created a bad taste in the mouth. However, I think that we have a strong bums-on-seats mentality of measuring success. I can say that, having been to almost every type of event on the scene, popularity is not always a measure of excellence. To single out one event: the quality of Illicit Ink’s Underground show deserves double the audience it gets.

Vive the [R]évolution, Poems in Translation @ French Institute

Vive the [R]évolution, Poems in Translation @ French Institute

Over these past months, I have seen the same names popping up again and again. Could this be to the detriment of lesser-known writers? Or those who have never dared give themselves a push to ‘have a go?’ As Richard Holloway said, “There is a danger that we professionalise the arts in a way – if we … think only of those who make it big – but if we truly educated the country we would all become artists and get in touch with our creativity.”

In Germany, so I’m told, poets are paid proper fees for performing. Wouldn’t it be good if there was more funding available for some of our lesser-known artistic pursuits? Perhaps I’m being a wee bit Utopian here. Though I’ll stay clear of politics (on this forum) I’ll say that artists play a big part in this city, and this country. Whatever happens in September, I hope that doors will be open to those whose artistic expression lies beyond the parochial, political, or aggressively professional.

I have also said that Edinburgh is saturated with spoken word, but it is a fluid programme. Lately, we have seen The Accelerator zoom off into the sunset (well, to Glasgow) while the ever-nomadic Caesura, after a stint at Hidden Doors on Market Street, heads to Summerhall. Rally & Broad are helping Bongo Lives to celebrate the Bongo Club’s doors remaining open to underground arts, and even though the Poetry Library is closed for a Spring Clean, their events page is as vital as ever.

Living in this Festival City is a pleasure, even though it eats into your wallet, not just in August. Literature, Arts, Ideas, and all that influences the perennially rich spoken word scene are continually evolving into new events – which explains why yet another Festival has popped up, in Duddingston, with poetry, storytelling, and plenty more.

I wish I could go to everything. However, I have a fantasy of finishing a novel I’ve been writing for far too long. It won’t earn me any money, but that’s okay: I intend to die in the noble poverty that Joni Mitchell (sarcastically?) suggested is the artist’s folly.

Maybe others may want to contribute some thoughts… that said; I’m sure I’ll have more to say in time to come.

I’ll be back in due course!

Listings for May

Thursday 11398453825
First Thursday; First Thirty Club, The Sheep Heid, 7.30pm. Free – collection for guest poet.
The new poetry, storytelling and music venue in Scotland’s oldest pub. Host: Steve Harvey. The first thirty there receive a raffle ticket – if their number is drawn, they get to read a poem. Guest poet: Ron Butlin
Upstairs at the Sheep Heid, 43-45 The Causeway, Duddingston Village, Edinburgh EH15 3QA. Event website: http://ftftclub.weebly.com/
Tricolour, NLS, 6.30pm. Free.
Three different voices, three different styles, three different takes. Featuring: Fiona Lindsay, Miko Berry and Beverley Wright.
National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, EH1 1EW. Event website: www.nls.uk

Friday  2
Rally & Broad: The Ampersand Edition The Bongo Club, 7pm. £5
Collaborations and mash-ups from some of our favourite R&B performers, all commissioned specially for the night! Ft. Ruth Mills & Gerry Campbell, Ryan Van Winkle & Lake Montgomery, Billy Liar & Snake-faced Jake, of Black Diamond Express.
The Bongo Club 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX. Event website: http://rallyandbroad.wordpress.com

Sunday 4
Illicit Ink Underground: Word Games The Bongo Club, 7pm. £5.
A selection of sinister stories from some of Edinburgh’s finest writers, storytellers and performers. This time the theme is ‘games’ so, expect playful performances including stories, music, and theatre. The die is cast, the game’s afoot and there’s everything to play for…
The Bongo Club 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX. Event website: www.thebongoclub.co.uk

Monday 5 (and weekly)
Antihoot (words and music) Henry’s Cellar Bar, sign up 7.30. Free.
After a non-competitive spring-break, May will resume with cash prizes to be won!
16 Morrison Street, EH3 8BJ. Facebook page: www.facebook.com

Tuesday 6
Inky Fingers Open Mic, Forest Café. 8pm. Free.
Forest Café 141 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9JN

Wednesday 7
Poetry at the Sutton Gallery The Sutton Gallery, 6pm. Free.
Featuring Frances Presley, Gavin Selerie and Luke Allan. Refreshments are provided and the gallery will also be displaying work by artist Alfons Bytautas RSA.
The Sutton Gallery, 18a Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6HZ. Even Facebook page: www.facebook.com
10Red The Persevere, 8pm. £3.
Ten writers, 10 minutes, with music. Featuring in good order: Jane Goldman, Sheila Templeton, Morgan Downie, Rachel McCrum, Kevin McLean, Lila Matsumoto, Gayle Smith, David McDonald and Chris Young. Also Tom Houston (music).
The Persevere, Easter Road, Edinburgh, EH6 8HT. Facebook page:  www.facebook.com

Thursday 8
Poetry and Coffee Henderson’s, 10.30am. Free.
Featuring Nora Hanson, Jim Wilson and Sheila Templeton. Just drop in to the cafe.
Henderson’s Cafe, 94 Hanover Street, Edinburgh. Details: www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk

Friday 9
Caesura #23 Summerhall, 7.30. £4.
Experimental Borders-based writer Dorothy Alexander; glottal and guttural goonery from sound poet Luke Poot; excerpts from the one-man play The Transformation of Sidney Pippistrelle from Sam Cunningham-Siggs and and new translations of Rimbaud from artist Karen Strang.
Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL Facebook page: www.facebook.com
Poetry and Music Rosslyn Chapel, 7.30pm. £7.
Mary Johnston reading The Angel and the Aipple – her poem in the Doric on the temptation of Eve. Henry Marsh will be reading poems on the East and West of Scotland, with fiddle music from Kate Miguda.
Rosslyn Chapel, Chapel Loan, Roslin, EH25 9PU. Event details: www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk

Sunday 11
Musselburgh May Naked Morris Dancing Daubed in Red Paint Jingly Sticks Hotpot Staggs pub, 7.30pm. Free.
Open floor, sign up from 7.30pm.
Back Room of Stagg’s (Volunteer Arms), 81 North High Street, Musselburgh, EH21 6JE. Facebook page: www.facebook.com

Monday 12
Blind Poetics Open Mic The Blind Poet, 8pm. Free.
May’s feature is Andrew Blair. He is a liar. His lies have graced stages and pages. Occasionally people witness his lies, and then clap. Hell-for-leather open mic. Hugely popular and over-subscribed, book a 5 minute slot: blindpoetics@gmail.com.
The Blind Poet, 32 W Nicolson St, EH8 9DD Facebook page: www.facebook.com

Tuesday 13
The Speakeasy, Storytelling Centre, 8pm. £6.
Book early for this often sold-out night of invited artists, featuring an eclectic mix of storytelling, song, spoken word and cabaret. Hosted by Fiona Herbert, whose guests include the fab Janey Godley and irrepressible Prof. Richard Wiseman.
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR Event website: www.tracscotland.org

Thursday 15
The Business Pleasance, 2pm-6pm. Free.
An event exploring the world of publishing in association with the University of Edinburgh. Followed by an evening of student readings, a mix of undergrad and MSc candidates reading selections from their work  from 7.30pm.
Pleasance Cabaret Bar, The Pleasance, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ The Business info: www.cityofliterature.com. Evening event facebook page: www.facebook.com

Wednesday 21
Red Room Poets. Constitution Bar, 7.30pm. Free.
Regular poetry/music night every third Wednesday of the month.
The Constitution Bar, 48 Constitution Street EH6 6RS Facebook page: www.facebook.com 

Friday 23
Rally & Broad: Ye Dancin? The Counting House, 8pm. £5.
Hosts Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum are askin’ as R&B pulls out a blinder of a night featuring Luke Wright, Alan Bissett, Jo Clifford,  Krystelle Bamford, Lake Montgomery and special guest Tolu Ogunlesi. Phew!
The Counting House, West Nicholson Street, EH8 9DD Facebook page: www.facebook.com

Saturday 24 & Sunday 25
Duddingston Festival – Music, Poetry & Storytelling in Duddingston Village’s gardens, tower, kirk, halls and pub. Featuring local artists and performers including Emily Dodd, Michael Pederson, Donald Smith, Stuart Campbell and poet, performer, and wearer of glasses, John Hegley.
Various venues aroudn Duddingstong. Download leaflet here: duddingstonfestival.weebly.com

Sunday 25
Shore Poets St John’s, 7.15pm. £4/£3.
May’s offering an invited feature poet, a Shore Poet and introducing local poet, Pippa Goldschmidt; two wildcard opportunities, and Lemon Cake raffle.
Henderson’s at St John’s, 3 Lothian Road, EH2 2EJ. Event website: http://shorepoets.org.uk

Tuesday 27
Talking Heids Sofi’s Bar, 7.30pm. Free.
McGuire hosts a monthly extravaganza of poetry exuberance and musical delights.
Sofi’s Bar, 65 Henderson Street, EH6 6ED Facebook page: www.facebook.com

Friday 30
Rally & Broad, The Counting House, 8pm. £5.
Words, Music & Lyrical Delights. Guests to be announced. Hosted by Jenny Lindsay & Rachel McCrum. £5, 8pm
The Counting House, West Nicholson Street, EH8 9DD Event website:  http://rallyandbroad.wordpress.com/
V=mc? – The Third Collaboration (from VOX Edinburgh) Summerhall, 7pm.
First there was music and dance; then there was text and textile; now the third collaboration: stories with 3D Projection and 2D Art.
Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL Facebook page: www.facebook.com

June 6
Vive the [R]évolution, Poems in Translation French Institute, 7pm. £5.
Rody Gorman will talk about his use of English, Irish and Scottish Gaelic to play with words and meanings.
Institut français d’Ecosse, 13 Randolph Crescent  EH3 7TT Event website: www.ifecosse.org.uk


So long J. A. Sutherland – and thanks for all the fish! J. A. S.  has his own blog at: http://throughtheturretwindow.blogspot.co.uk/

If you would like a spoken word event listed on All Edinburgh Theatre, please use the contact page to get in touch: https://www.alledinburghtheatre.com/about-2/contact/

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