Wordly Wise: Lacking Wisdom

Dec 16 2013 | By More

Where can (Wordly) Wisdom be Found?

MaGillivray (Kirsten Norrie) and Leo Glaister are reading at Talking Heid's Christmas Special! End-of-year round-up? Not for J. A. Sutherland. Well not yet: There were too many precious gems around last week – and more coming up in this one too. Maybe he will put a lid on the poetry jewellery box next week. But for now, this is where the wisdom is.

According to the Book of Job: wisdom “cannot be gotten for gold; neither shall silver be weighed’. Attending literature events certainly solicits the silver from my pockets, not least because so many are held in pubs, clubs, cafés and bars.

The same Biblical passage says: ‘No mention shall be made of pearls; for the price of wisdom is above rubies.’ In Edinburgh, there are pearls of poetry engraved into pavestones in Makar’s Court, chiselled into the walls of our Parliament building, and gems in many other places.

Even graffiti can deepen our understanding of things that lie beyond conventional wisdom. Whether prose, poetry or vandalism, the point is, words make you think. There is no better exploration of this than the title poem of Rachel McCrum’s pamphlet, The Glassblower Dances. She is one half of Rally & Broad with Jenny Lindsay, which ‘cabaret of lyrical delight’ has won these congenial hosts a place on The List’s Hot 100 of 2013.

It's our last event of 2013, and to celebrate we're channeling even more wild abandon than usual. I know. How is that even possible? We've had aeroplanes, superheroes, slayers - and now: we're having a post-cabaret ceilidh and Rally & Broad party til the wee small hours too! Rachel performed her poem about the alchemy of words, spoken or not, at Inky FingersBletherskites! in April this year, and can be heard on the Soundcloud recording of that event. The December issue of Rally & Broad is this Friday and features the fabulous Holly McNish.

Spoken word performance is not restricted to indoors. This year, the Scottish Poetry Library linked up with four Botanic Gardens for their Walking with Poets project. Edinburgh’s resident poet was Mandy Haggith, who explored the Gaelic Tree Alphabet throughout July. Gerry Loose, whose work is often to be found inscribed on wood and stone in natural landscapes, as well as on the page, was resident at Dawyck in September.

At Caesura last Friday, Gerry was joined by Lila Matsumoto to read sections from his epic poem, that person himself, taking us on travels through “nuclear” landscapes: the New Mexican deserts, the Mojave, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Faslane. The evening began with Colin Herd reading from his pamphlet, like, and his collection too ok; then Jane McKie gave us poems formed from bits of coloured glass found on the beach and matched with Dulux paint colour-charts. Taking us through unique and mesmerising aural landscapes of words and music, MacGillivray proved that spoken word is a treasure-trove of other worlds.

In other open-air poetry, this year Andrew Sclater was seen on Arthur’s Seat, performing his words with musician, Wounded Knee. In Old Calton Cemetery in June Alexander Hutchinson launched his exquisite pamphlet Tardigrade. Assuming the voice of a microscopic creature, he took us on a breath-taking journey to outer space.

Last month, the emerging Loud Poets took their words up Calton Hill – guerrilla-style. Stemming from the University’s Soap Box scene, it’s hard to say if these young poets are angry, opinionated or simply stentorian. But they are certainly ubiquitous and humourous, performing at numerous slams, last week’s Speakeasy and, having won the Antihoot open-mic in-house vote, will perform at Tuesday’s Superhoot! at Henry’s Cellar Bar.

Panning for gold

Finding a date for pre-Christmas events is like panning for gold, and Tuesday is this week’s bumper haul. Besides the Superhoot, Syndicate will be holding their final experiment in spoken word, where poetry meets technology. Held at Inspace, that amphitheatre for the digital age, which sadly will soon be taken over by robots. Apparently. At the same time, there’s another chance to see MacGillivray performing at Talking Heids in Sofi’s Bar in Leith, along with Leo Glaister, host Colin McGuire, and a handful of hopeful open-mic poets.

Remaining in Leith for the rest of the week, there is more poetry in the back room of the Persevere on Wednesday, where the community poetry group, Percy Poets, have a bumper Christmas party, with poems from feature-poet Ian Revie and contributions from the group. Rose (aka, Rosita) Ritchie’s new pamphlet, Don’t you know who I am?, published by Duality, will be launched, and there will be gifts for all from Santa’s sack. And on Friday, poet Rob A. Mackenzie will host a Pre-Christmas Poetry and Music Bash, with mulled wine, readings and song at St Andrew’s Church, Easter Road.

It seems, therefore, that locating the mysteries of spoken word is not so simple, and with all the wisdom in the world, programming and promoting literature events can leave even the most well-organised at sea. Sometimes, trying to extract information for this blog, I find responses as beguiling as the Bible itself: ‘The depth saith, It is not in me: And the sea saith, It is not with me.’ While I cannot mention pop-up, ad hoc or irregular events, in my final round-up next week I will attempt to provide a list of groups who have a regular monthly slot.

Such information is like gold dust. At times like this, I could do with one of those wise men.


Antihoot Open Stage: Every Monday, 8pm. Henry’s Cellar Bar, 16 Morrison St, EH3 8BJ
◉ Syndicate Tue 17 Dec, 6.30 for 7pm. Inspace, 1 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB

Antihoot: The Superhoot!: Tue 17 Dec, 7pm. Henry’s Cellar Bar, 16 Morrison St, EH3 8BJ
◉ Talking Heids Tue 17 Dec, 7pm. Sofi’s Bar, 65 Henderson Street, EH6 6ED
Percy Poets: The Christmas Spirit: Weds 18 Dec, 8pm. 398 Easter Road, EH6 8HT
Pre Christmas Poetry and Music Bash: Fri 20 Dec, 7.30pm. Leith St Andrew’s Church Hall, 410-412 Easter Road, EH6 8HT
Rally & Broad Fri 20 Dec, 7.30pm. £5. The Counting House, 36 West Nicolson Street, EH8 9DD

J. A. Sutherland also has his own blog at: http://throughtheturretwindow.blogspot.co.uk/



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