Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Participate!: all-female poetry slam to celebrate International Women’s Day 2012

Monday, March 5th, 2012

No More Nice Girls

International Women’s Day is fast approaching, and I for one didn’t want to be caught unawares this year with nothing to do celebrate (like I was last year — the centenary year! — when all I managed was this post). So, I started thinking: what would I really like to do to celebrate International Women’s Day 2012? I reasoned that I should definitely keep up my tradition of giving as big a chunk of money as I can afford to a women’s charity… and that gave me an idea. Why not do something to encourage other folk to give their money to a women’s charity, too?

And thus, the International Women’s Day 2012 Edinburgh All-Female Slam (catchy, no?) was born.

At first, I wanted to hold a poetry slam simply because I know they never fail to get a good crowd through the door, and that would mean more pennies in the bucket for whatever charity I decided to pick (also, I just love a good slam). But then I realised that a poetry slam might also be a good place to raise awareness about women’s issues within the poetry community.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that female poets have it as bad as, say, the ladies in the photo above. Thanks to the pioneering work of ladies like Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Carol Ann Duffy, Liz Lochhead and many more, these days being a female poet is considered no weirder, really, than being a male poet. Female writers — although we still have a lot of catching up to do — no longer have to fight tooth and nail to be allowed to write, publish, perform and be reviewed. Most of us, I think, just get on with it.

What’s more, my local literary community plays host to a vibrant performance poetry scene that boasts some of the UK’s finest female performance poets: among them Jenny Lindsay, Sophia, Laura Hainey, and numerous others. We’re in Scotland, of course, so things aren’t as intersectional as they are in, say, Leeds or London… and they’re perhaps not as intersectional as they potentially could be. But there’s still a lot of poetry buzzing around and a lot of ladies getting involved.

However: Scotland’s poetry slam scene does still seem to be dominated by men. Our current Scottish slam champion is Young Dawkins, and when I try to think of the really great performance poets Scotland has to offer, I find myself coming up with far more male names than female ones (to mention but a few, Scotland can boast the vocal stylings of Bram Gieben, Colin McGuire, Kevin Cadwallender, Harlequinade, Robin Cairns, Jim Monaghan, Tickle McNicholl, Tim Turnbull and Harry Giles). Furthermore, slam itself could be described as somewhat chauvinistic: the focus is on competition, on “knocking out” one’s opponents in “head-to-head” finals. What’s more, slam has gained a bit of an unfair rep among non-slammers as being all about shouting the loudest or rapping the fastest.

Understandably, this view of Scottish slam puts a lot of performers — and mostly, it seems, ladies — off. I know many a female poet who just “won’t do slams.” And I think this is extremely sad, given that a) slam is a super cool movement with a huge and growing audience and b) Scottish performance poetry is crying out for a greater variety of voices, and is, in my experience, always friendly and welcoming.

Therefore, this slam is about faciliating the female performance poetry that I know is out there. I’ve seen all the poets on our spectacular bill performing at open mics and at traditional stand-up readings (and sometimes at “quiet” or “friendly” slams), and each time I’ve thought, THE SCOTTISH SLAM SCENE NEEDS YOU, LADY! Contrary to what several poisonous detractors (now blocked, don’t worry) on the event’s Facebook wall have somehow decided, this event IS NOT about bashing men and it IS NOT about favouritism towards women. It is about welcoming twelve exciting performers a little further into the performance poetry scene, and providing them with the encouragement they need to get out there and take the world of slam by storm.

If you like the sound of a FRIENDLY, ALL-INCLUSIVE slam featuring poetry from both male AND female performers; if you like the sound of raising a ton of money for Scottish Women’s Aid while sitting in a pub and listening to some fine verse; if you like the sound of discovering some new poets you never knew existed but whose work is guaranteed to blow your tiny mind… well then, get yourself to:

THE BANSHEE LABYRINTH
on
TUESDAY 6TH MARCH
at
7PM (doors) for 7.30PM (start)
and
BRING YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR APPLAUSE, AND YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS

Check out our Facebook event for more details.

SEE YOU THERE!

*

One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!

(Image source)

ONS appeal: HELP SAVE THE FOREST CAFE!

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

(Photo by Tim Macfarlane)

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll know what The Forest Cafe is… you will at the very least have heard me mention it/wax lyrical about it/praise it to the skies. Forest is an Edinburgh institution and a place that carries a great deal of meaning for myself and many other Edinvarians. And unfortunately, it is now under threat. Please, please read the following and help us to save this very deserving Edinburgh landmark.

What is Forest?
Forest is a unique access-all-areas arts initiative which works to provide space, resources, funding and encouragement for artists and creatives of all walks of life in the Edinburgh area and beyond. It “aims to advance access to art and cultural activities amongst the general public of Edinburgh and the wider community“, basically. The Forest Cafe is the base of operations for this initiative: housed in a former church and inhabiting a maze of rooms over several floors, it offers a variety of vibrant, unusual and versatile arts spaces to anyone who wants to use them. At the heart of things is the veggie and vegan kitchen, which not only helps to fund Forest’s other activities, but also supplies hungry visitors with the best vegan burritos and chocolate brownie this side of anywhere. The cafe is also Forest’s performance hub — if you want to watch, play or organise a poetry reading, an acoustic gig, a play, a film night, a gramophone evening, a reading group, a recital or any other creative endeavour, this is your place. Events are free to stage, free to perform at and free to attend. They’re pretty much always brilliant, too.

But Forest isn’t just a cool cafe that also holds events. Alongside the cafe space is Total Kunst, Forest’s very own art gallery, which hosts traditional, experimental and installation artists from all over the globe. Anyone can exhibit and it’s always free. Also always free is Forest’s downstairs space, which provides facilities such as a dark room for budding photographers and a rehearsal space for bands and musicians. For a small fee — or sometimes for free, depending on your event — you can also hire out the cavernous Forest Hall, which will accomodate anything from a small group of amateur filmmakers to a full-scale ceilidh band and a hundred guests. Forest also has its own shop, selling a variety of crafts; its own successful publishing imprint, Forest Publications, which I really cannot praise highly enough; it even has its own hairdressing salon. And I haven’t even got started on their monthly free shop, library facilities or free fringe antics

Forest 'o' Flash
(Photo by digiphotoneil)

How you can help.
Now, Forest is in danger of being evicted from its current home because the building has been put up for sale. Forest are currently tenants, and have been for many years — and although it’s very ambitious, they want to try and secure their future by raising enough money to buy the building outright. The current target is a massive £500,000, so they really need YOU to give as much as you can. The main way in which you can do this is by clicking here and donating via their simple Paypal form. For other ways to donate, or to get involved in other fundraising activities, just get in touch with them — they’d love to hear from you.

Why you should help.
Given all of the above, I don’t think I really need to tell you why you should donate to Forest. If you’ve ever been there, you already know what a special, unique place it is and what excellent work they do every day within and beyond the arts community in Edinburgh. If you’re local and you’ve never been there, now is the time to start — Forest desperately needs your support, and your life will be better for it. Even if you’re not an Edinvarian — hey, even if you’re not a Scot — you should still consider giving up a few of your hard-earned pennies for this very good cause. Like Shakespeare and Co and The Beat Museum, this is an arts initiative whose work resonates far beyond its small home city. If you donate to the Forest you’re helping hundreds of artists and creatives, and you’re making a stand for independent arts organisations the world over. Please think about giving as much as you can spare, even if that’s only a couple of quid.

P1150846
(Photo by acb)

Let me tell you why I donated to ForestWhen I first came to Edinburgh, I didn’t know anyone. I was vaguely aware that a few people I went to high school with also lived in the city; that was about it. I was living in Uni halls with chilly rooms, unreliable internet access, and I was broke. Forest provided me with huge pots of tea for next to nothing, a quiet and comfy place to sit for as long as I liked, and totally free access to the internet. Later, when I got more acclimatised, I started getting interested in the Edinburgh literary community. Forest — and the fabulous Ryan Van Winkle, one of its most famous staff members — provided heaps of support for my writing, via their brilliant writing groups, workshops and events. One of the first Edinburgh readings I ever did was The Forest Golden Hour, and the crowd was huge, warm and wonderfully supportive. Later still, I decided I wanted to start my own literary magazine, and yet again Forest was there to help me. For two full years Forest gave us the space and resources we needed to print, hand-bind and distribute our own zine — all totally free. We ran Read This events in the Forest Cafe, we used their fabulous website, noticeboards and Facebook group to promote ourselves and call for submissions. As things progressed, Forest also supported Read This Press (in particular, Chris Lindores’ collection You Old Soak) by providing printing facilities and carrying our titles in the shop, cafe and online. Forest Publications have published and promoted my work and the work of my various projects on numerous occasions. I genuinely believe that without Forest I wouldn’t be the writer I am today. And I’m just one young artist of the thousands who make use of Forest’s services and resources every year.

I implore you to help keep this incredible project afloat. Please go here, and donate now. As much as you can — it will make a difference.

Thank you!