Wordly Wise – wrapped-up regulars

Dec 27 2013 | By More
Regular, Irregular and Unruly: In Spoken Word, there are No Rules

Wending his way year end-wards, resident poet J. A. Sutherland is already looking to the next – and the regular spoken word spots worth marking in your diary. But first, here’s glory for you…

It is my pleasure to announce that, in the heady world of open mic events in Edinburgh, of those ‘sphere-born harmonious sisters, voice and verse,’ the latter has scored a victory!

I’m not suggesting there is aggressive competition between that blest pair of sirens, music and poetry: far from it. Nevertheless, after six weeks of Antihoot sessions at Henry’s Cellar Bar, each evening producing two performers to compete for a £200 pound prize, the final Superhoot took place on December 17th. Against the stiff competition of emerging and seasoned songwriters, the Loud Poets gained entry to the Henry’s Cellar Hall of Fame.

Less joyful, although going out with an ebullient bang, was the last of the events called Syndicate, the showcase where spoken word meets technology and blurs the boundaries of both. Playing on the concept of a swansong, the elusive title, Subsong, gave the three performers ample scope to create a truly unique experience in performance art, with words, music, images and live collaborations. There was a strong hint that the concept has not been entirely laid to rest; this will be a phoenix that I, for certain, will look out for in 2014.

What is in store for the remaining spoken word events? More of the same, you can be sure. Inky Fingers have been quick off the mark to announce their first open mic event on January 7th; The Accelerator revs up the following day, and Blind Poetics will see the light on the 13th. The Percy Poets meet at the Persevere on the 15th, and there will be be poetry, pictures, and glasses of wine at the Sutton Gallery on Dundas Street a week later, January 22nd – featuring yours truly. I will end this roundup with a rough guide to regular events, with one essential caveat: there are no rules.

Edinburgh’s regular spoken word events

Musselburgh Hot Pot A friendly poetry & song open-acoustic, held in the back room of Staggs (Volunteer Arms), in Musselburgh. 1st Sunday of the month. 7.30 sign-up, free. 81 North High Street, Musselburgh, EH21 6JE.

Illicit Ink Underground Prose performance, with entertaining compere, and treats – often edible. Every alternate 1st Sunday, in The Bongo Club, Cowgate, at 8pm. Writers are invited to submit their work to perform, provided it fits the theme. Entry, £5/3. The Bongo Club, 66 Cowgate, EH1 1JX   Illicit Ink Website

Antihoot Open Mic Songwriters, spoken word, comedy, or whatever anyone wants to perform. Henry’s Cellar Bar, Morrison Street, every Monday, 7.30 sign-up, 8pm start. Free, and open to all with the condition that the audience listens to the acts. Henry’s Cellar Bar, 16 Morrison St, EH3 8BJ  Henry’s Cellar Bar Facebook page

Tricolour Showcasing three varied poetic flavours. National Library of Scotland. 1st Monday of the month, 6pm, free. This is a great poetry taster, lasting only an hour: just turn up. National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, EH1 1EW.

10Red A popular showcase evening run by Red Squirrel Press. 10 writers, reading for 10 minutes each. There is music, beer, and a ‘free raffle’ with multiple prizes hewn from Red Squirrel’s cache.  The Persevere, Easter Road, 1st Wednesday of the month, at 8pm. £3.  The Persevere, Easter Road, Edinburgh, EH6 8HT

The Accelerator A new showcase, with four acts, plus hosts. Performance poetry, on unspecified Wednesdays, commencing January 8th at The Canon’s Gait, 8pm. £4/3. The Canons’ Gait, 232 Cannongate, EH8 8DQ Accelerator Facebook page

Soap Box A buzzing open mic, with a feature poet, run by the University Lit Soc. Pleasance Cabaret Bar. Alternate Thursdays during term-time, 7.30, sign up in advance. Pleasance Cabaret Bar, The Pleasance, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ Soap Box Facebook page

Blind Poetics A relaxed and truly democratic open mic, with a feature poet and hosts. All participants are invited to contribute to a pamphlet, published several times a year. Held, naturally, at the Blind Poet, Nicholson Street every 2nd Monday. Sign up in advance. The Blind Poet, 32 W Nicolson St, EH8 9DD  Blind Poetics Facebook page

The Speakeasy Various invited artists perform an eclectic mix of storytelling, song, spoken word and cabaret. Presented by comic, Jo Caulfield, January’s offering will be hosted by the wry storyteller, Fiona Herbert. Netherbow Theatre, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 8pm. £6. Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR

Monthly Poetry Slam Staged by The University Lit Soc, with a feature performer, at the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, every last Thursday during term-time, at 7.30. Performers should sign up in advance. Free, and extremely popular: new (and old!) vibrant voices of spoken word. Pleasance Cabaret Bar, The Pleasance, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ 

Percy Poets An inter-community poetry group, who meet at The Persevere, Easter Road, 8pm, on every 3rd Wednesday. Often with a tentative theme, this is very much a ‘bring-and-share’ style of meeting: open, acoustic performances – and free. The Persevere, Easter Road, Edinburgh, EH6 8HT Percy Poets Facebook page

Rally & Broad Run by eponymous hosts Rally and Broad, a spoken word cabaret in every sense: a showcase for invited performers, themed, and featuring a heady mix of words, music and outside-the-box entertainment. Every 3rd Friday at The Counting House, 8pm. £5. The Counting House, West Nicholson Street, EH8 9DD Rally & Broad Facebook page

Talking Heids Another showcase, with two invited poets, but also with an open mic, and congenial host. Sofi’s Bar, Henderson Street, Leith, every last Tuesday of the month. Free. Sofi’s Bar, 65 Henderson Street, EH6 6ED

Illicit Ink Skyground The sibling of Underground; a themed, curated production in which invited performers collaborate to produce individual stories that form a dramatic arc across the whole evening. Storytelling-meets-theatre, at the Netherbow; last Friday of month. £5. Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, EH1 1SR Illicit Ink Website

Shore Poets A poetry showcase, with an invited feature poet, a Shore Poet member and introducing a local poet. There are two wildcard opportunities, and that famous Lemon Cake raffle. Last Sunday of the month, Henderson’s at St John’s, Princes Street. £4/3. Henderson’s at St John’s, 3 Lothian Road,  EH2 2EJ Shore Poets website

Of course there are many more than these relative regulars. I’ve not covered Neu Reekie, Writer’s Bloc, Anatomy, and Electric Tales, all of which are major contributors to our city’s lively scene of live literature. This is why we are the first UNESCO City of Literature. Furthermore, it would be unwise for me to ring-fence Inky Fingers, who seem to have more pies than fingers, and more spinning plates for me to be able to place them in a ‘regular’ position. As I coined at the start of this series of posts: pigeon hole a poet at your peril.

I can guarantee in 2014 there’ll be literary death matches, poetry slams, pamphlet/zine/book launches, one-off events, collaborations, random open mics and open-air performances, mini-festivals and book fairs, major Festivals (if that needs said!) bookshop and library programmes, random pop-up occurrences in cafés and pubs (too numerous to mention) perennial, regular, and one-off seasons and numerous reasons to hear, in both voice and verse, words spoken, performed, intoned, or recited.

If you love spoken word, I promise: your love won’t be unrequited.
City of literature website with Spoken Word event listings: www.cityofliterature.com
Scottish Poetry Library website, with Spoken Word event listings: www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk


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


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

Sites That Link to this Post

  1. New Year, new Worldy Wisdom « Æ: All Edinburgh Theatre | Jan 12 2014