Posts Tagged ‘scotland’

Where is Claire?: talks, readings, happenings for Spring 2014

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Happy Birthday, Allen Ginsberg!

OK, it’s not quite Spring yet, but I am trying to be optimistic.
I’m doing some events, and I would like you to come to them, because it seems no matter how many readings etc I undertake, I still get deathly afraid at every single one. So please come to some of these Things and make me feel better.

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Greenlight presents New Scotland: New Culture?
Friday 7th February at Summerhall, 7pm. £5 and ticketed

“What is the role of culture in Scotland, now and in the future?
What can politicians and the state do to support culture and the arts while guaranteeing creative freedom?
As Scotland’s democracy evolves, should we seek to redefine what culture means in a national and international context?”
So, those are some big and scary questions, and I have been given a 15 minute TED-talk-style slot in which to try and answer them. Except erm, instead I am going to go slightly off-piste and talk about my personal favourite cultural issue: diversity and inclusion. I might also read a poem or two.
There will also be a bunch of other excellent speakers, who I imagine will stick to the brief a little better than me (sorry, everyone). There’ll also be music. And there’ll be Summerhall, which is always good. Please come along to this one, folks — my terror levels are significantly more elevated than usual for this event!

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Rally & Broad: And The Beat Goes On
Friday 21st February at The Counting House, 7.30pm. £5.

I’m pretty sure you already all know what the literary juggernaut that is Rally and Broad is all about. If you don’t, I’d like to know exactly where you’ve been hiding. Basically, it’s a massive monthly night of literary and musical delights; a cabaret-style set up showcasing some of the best creative talent from across Scotland and beyond. And if you only know one thing about it, you’ll know it’s hosted by Jenny Linsday and Rachel McCrum. From what I’ve seen on Flickr, they each wear a different fabulous frock every month and always look rather nifty.

I’m chuffed to have been asked to read at the February R&B, and I am already eyeing my wardrobe nervously, because what shall I wear?! More importantly, what shall I read, in order that I am not eclipsed by the very impressive humans appearing above me in the line-up?! Seriously, look at this — and then tell me you don’t want to be there. I’m pretty sure that’s the most EXCITING STUFF you can get for a fiver anywhere.

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Shore Poets: February
Sunday 23rd February at Henderson’s at St John’s, 7.15pm doors. £5 / £3 concessions.

OK, I am not performing at this one, but I will be floating around behind the scenes, supposedly helping out, but probably just being awkward and starstruck around the brilliant performers. This month, Shore Poets brings you the one-and-only William Letford, of whose work I am a major, major fangirl. Look him up on Youtube and see what I mean! And Mr Letford is only the start of it… we have not one but two headline poets this month, honorary Shore Poet Diana Hendry, and honorary Shore Poets president Stewart Conn. Both have brand spanking new books either just out, or coming very soon, so come along to hear (I assume) some exciting new work! On top of all this, we’ll be presenting the annual Mark Ogle Memorial Award, which this year went to the excellent Meg Bateman. AND there’ll be live music from The Whole Shebang, as well as our infamous lemon cake raffle. YOU can also read at this event, by bringing a poem, putting your name in the hat at the door, and then, if your lucky, getting picked for one of our two wildcard slots. Yep, you. Come along already!

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TenRed: April
Wednesday 2nd April at The Persevere Bar & Function Room, Leith, 7.30pm. £3.

Alright, I know this is still a little way away, but I am so excited that TenRed is back among us, and I’ve been asked to perform at it for the third time! April has a great line-up, which excitingly, includes Lovely Boyfriend (billed here as Stephen Welsh)! Never mind me, come and hear him. He barely ever performs anywhere, so take the opportunity to get a rare sighting! Look, there’s even a trailer:

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Photo by Chris Scott.

Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #86: Christmas in Edinburgh

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

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Happy holidays, all!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Things I Love Thursday #85: Book Week Scotland

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Dear everyone, but especially those of you I promised a BWS 2013 blogpost to,

I am sorry this post comes nearly a full month after Book Week Scotland actually happened. The fact I did not blog about it immediately after has nothing to do with the quality of BWS 2013 (it was utterly awesome, in fact). It does, however, have a great deal to do with the fact that my PhD viva (yep) came very swiftly after BWS 2013, and went from “that thing I am working hard at not thinking about” to “that thing that is consuming my whole life right now.” Terribly sorry about that. Hopefully, late is better than never. Here’s how I spent my Book Week Scotland 2013. How about you?

xo, Claire

Sunday night: Shore Poets November
OK, so at this point BWS 2013 was still about four hours away from its official kick-off, and I should probably note that SP November wasn’t an official Book Week Scotland event. It did make a nice literary appetiser for the delicious wordy smorgasbord that was about to follow, however.

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The event featured the ever-witty Tracey S Rosenberg in the New Poet slot — among other cool stuff that happened during her set, she wore a great skirt with kitties on it, and read a really excellent poem about and dedicated to the infamous Shore Poets lemon cake. Nice work.

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Christine de Luca was the Shore Poet, and her reading was incredible as ever. She mostly read poems in Shetland dialect, which was a delight to hear. My favourite was her poem about the Canadian First Nations woman who made a purse out of swan’s feet. And me a vegan!

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The headline poet was Gerrie Fellows, who I’ll admit, I’ve never seen read before — nor have I read any of her work in print. But she was on fine form and read on a variety of subjects. Her poem about coming across the ruins of a crashed aircraft was especially great, as was her sound poem about pointing out deer to a small child.

I should perhaps mention that I once again reprised my role as Scotland’s most awkward literary MC at this particular event!

Monday: Making It Home for Book Week Scotland, “Words Against Violence.”
Book Week Scotland officially began on 25th November 2013! And I was READY FOR IT.

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If you’ve even glanced in passing at this blog in the past year, you’ll know all about the Making It Home Project, aka Possibly The Best Thing I Have Ever Been A Part Of In My Life Ever. Well, because the Book Week Scotland team are excellent, they decided Making It Home needed its own space at BWS 2013, so we teamed up with Glasgow Women’s Library to create the “Words Against Violence” event. I read the project poems — including some of the poems written by our gorgeous participants — and we watched the project films, then had a brilliant, thought provoking discussion that was supposed to be panel-format, but ended up just being everyone sitting in a circle with a cuppa and having a really, really good chat. So my kind of event! Here are some pics:

Glasgow Women's Library: the volunteer tree!
This is the GWL volunteer tree. I utterly love the concept, and the execution! So lovely.

Glasgow Women's Library: the volunteer tree!
It’s a great way to mark the vital contribution of each volunteer.

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GWL’s Gabrielle kicking off the event. (Thank you so much Gabrielle, for your warm welcome and all your capable assistance!)

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Making It Home’s project manager Esa, aka Wonderwoman.

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Thoughtful faces as the films play…

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Oh, Glasgow. Never change.

Tuesday night: Talking Heids (for Book Week Scotland)
Talking Heids is Edinburgh’s magical new(ish) spoken word night on the block, hosted by one of my all-time favs Colin McGuire (pictured here):

Colin McGuire, the magical MC of Talking Heids

It happens on the third Tuesday of every month (I think? It’s once a month and it’s on a Tuesday night, anyway) at Sofi’s in Leith, and each month two poets are featured. For the BWS event, the two poets were Rob A Mackenzie and Rachel Amey. Rob took us on a brilliant chronological tour through his works, starting with the first poem he ever had published, and ending with brand spanking new hot-off-the-printer work. Rachel, meanwhile, read 100% from memory as always, and as always, blew my mind. Her NHS poem never stops giving me chills.

The lovely audience at Talking Heids November

There is also an open mic at the end, and among the acts at the BWS one were yours truly, and the really great Mr Roddy Shippin, lurking rather suspiciously by the door in the photo above. Also up at the mic was the barman, who read a Philip Larkin poem rather excellently, and then, emboldened, took out one of his own poems and read his work in public for the first time ever. The poem (he insisted it was not a poem, “just some lines I wrote on a train,” but if that’s not a poem then my whole writing career has been a huge lie) was great, and I always love it when such things happen. Things like that happening are why tiny open mics in pubs are awesome, and why people who pay to listen to poetry are awesome, and why Book Week Scotland is awesome. Yay!

Wednesday night: The 2013 Margaret Harris lecture.
OK, this was not a Book Week Scotland event. In fact, I had to not go to a Book Week Scotland event in order to go to this! But it was for work, and it was fascinating, although I disagreed with a whole lot of it and found the speaker, Tom Devine, somewhat maddening. Fun fact: ten minutes into the lecture (at a kind of pivotal moment, too) we were all evacuated and lots of firemen called because some mime artists set off a smoke machine in the next room. Dramz! Also, my first ever trip to Dundee!

Thursday night: night off.
(I needed to regroup. Also I’d temporarily run out of BWS pin badges to give out.)

Friday night: Communal Dolphin Snouting
Probably the less said about the title of this event, the better (there were lots of squeaky inflatable dolphin-shaped fairground hammer things hanging from the ceiling when I arrived, and as one of the performers I felt somewhat nervous. Fortunately, said dolphin-hammers were not used to attack me, so I must have done OK). Mainly because it means I can say more about PhiFA — full name, the Berlin Philosophical Football Association.

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(Photo credit Andrew McCue)

Wait, what? I hear you cry… yep, philosophical football. It’s basically a live philosophical debate, wherein pro philosophers team up with citizen thought-mongers picked from the crowd, and are timed, refereed and commentated upon as in football. A Muse provides topics to be debated, and ninety minutes of debate follows. Free kicks can be given for cliches and sentimentality, while yellow and red cards can be handed out for things like cheesiness or plagiarism. All the while, a match photographer rapidly makes colourful drawings of the participants, or renders their ideas and arguments into visual form. And scribbling away simultaneously is the match poet… on this occasion, you guessed it, me.

The match poet writes up the match report in the form of a poem — in real time, as the debate is going on. The poem must be finished by the final whistle, and performed live in front of the spectators. As you can imagine, the pressure was pretty intense… but actually, the lovely philosophers provided me with plenty of material, and I managed to come up with a two-part poem (for a two-part match, natch) that I was actually pretty pleased with. The audience seemed to like it, too! So thanks, Book Week Scotland, for putting me way out of my comfort zone, but in what proved to be a good way!

Saturday night: The Inky Fingers / Book Week Scotland Dead Poet Slam
One night.
A dozen dead poets.
A time machine.
A stage.
An audience.
One amazing gig…

(In all seriousness: this great event, fronted by the aforementioned and excellent Tracey S Rosenberg, was a slam with a difference. Each competitor had to perform not their own work, but the work of their favourite dead poet, preferably in costume and ideally with props and a funny voice, where applicable. I was one of the judges — dressed as Dame Edith Sitwell in the spirit, if you’ll pardon the pun, of the evening — and let me tell you, this was a TOUGH contest. Finally won by the utterly brilliant Anne Connolly, who, as my fabulous fellow judge Alice Tarbuck pointed out, could become a professional WB Yeats impersonator.)

Here are some pics:

The Book Week Scotland/Inky Fingers Dead Poet Slam: Aphra Behn and Edith Sitwell
Alice Tarbuck and I as Aphra Behn and Edith Sitwell respectively, sitting at the judging table of doom.

The Book Week Scotland/Inky Fingers Dead Poet Slam: Kurt Schwitters!
MC Kurt Schwitters, aka Ali Maloney, aka Harlequinade.

The Book Week Scotland/Inky Fingers Dead Poet Slam: defending champion Charles Bukowski!
Defending champ Charles Bukowski, aka Colin McGuire.

The Book Week Scotland/Inky Fingers Dead Poet Slam: host with the most, Dorothy Parker!
Hostess with the mostess Dorothy Parker, aka Tracey S Rosenberg.

The Book Week Scotland/Inky Fingers Dead Poet Slam: a triumphant WB Yeats!
The new champ WB Yeats, aka Anne Connolly!

The Book Week Scotland/Inky Fingers Dead Poet Slam: performers!
Top secret judging paperwork.

The Book Week Scotland/Inky Fingers Dead Poet Slam: the scary judges, Edith Sitwell, Aphra Behn and Vita Sackville-West
Scary judges Edith Sitwell (aka me), Aphra Behn (aka Alice Tarbuck) and Vita Sackville-West (aka Jane McKie).

Thanks Book Week Scotland, for the words, the books, the banter, and OVER 600 EVENTS SCOTLAND-WIDE! Already looking forward to 2014!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Colin McGuire’s new book is the most exciting thing to happen to Scottish poetry since Colin McGuire’s last book

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

OK, I don’t actually know that, because I haven’t read it yet. BUT Everybody Lie Down And No One Gets Hurt, published by my own lovely pamphlet publishers Red Squirrel Press, is being launched tonight at Sofi’s Bar in Leith, from 7pm. You should come along, because Colin is excellent, and he will be reading some of his excellent work in excellent fashion.

To celebrate the event, I decided to re-post this small poem of McGuire’s which first appeared at ONS in 2008. Enjoy!

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McGuire: “A thin Glaswegian man, touch giddy in the head, sometimes poet of mangled form and dirty prose, sporadic drummer, drunken grammarian, waffler, painter using crayons, lover, hater, learner, teacher, pedestrian, provocateur, wanderer, confronter of shadows, irritating whine. Studied global politics at Caledonian University, has worked a colourful mish mash of menial jobs (postman/salmon farmer), has been writing poetry for best part of twenty years. He has previously produced a book of poetry and short stories called ‘Important Nonsense: scraps from a Glaswegian immaturity’ [also known as 'Riddled with Errors.'] He intends to start reading when he gets over his fear.”
McGuire blogs at Notes from a Glaswegian Immaturity.

Chaffinch

Little bird
upon the branch
singing;
you have no
National Insurance
number and that
is beautiful.
You fly, live die
and cannot be arrested.

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

UPDATED! Where is Claire? Some Book Week Scotland events you should come to!

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

claire at wpm
Photo by Neil Thomas Douglas

Well folks, the PhD is submitted. It’s in, gone, there’s no longer anything I can do with, at, to, or about it. Which means I have to start doing poetry events again, because I no longer have an excuse not to. Here are a few you should come along to. Not (only) because of me, but because Book Week Scotland, Making It Home and Inky Fingers are all super fabulous, and need your support!

Monday 25th November 2013
Making it Home for Book Week Scotland: words against violence

The Glasgow Women’s Library, 1200–1400, FREE

Book Week Scotland is a totally amazing initiative — and I’m not just saying that because I’m paid to. I’m so happy that BWS have recognised the amazingness of the women of Making It Home, and teamed up with us in order to showcase the work we’ve been doing. At this event, I’ll be facilitating a showing of the Making It Home project films, and reading the poems that inspired those films. There’ll also be a discussion around the power of poetry and writing to conquer violence (especially violence against women). Very excited about this one.

Tuesday 26th November 2013
Talking Heids for Book Week Scotland

Sofi’s Bar in Leith, 1900, FREE

Talking Heids is a brand spanking new monthly poetry night invented and hosted by the magical Mr Colin McGuire, who as you probably know by now is my #1 favourite Scottish performance poet. This month he’s joined forced with Book Week Scotland to bring you feature slots from Rachel Amey and Rob A Mackenzie. There’s also an open mic, at which yours truly will be reading, and which you can sign up for at the Facebook event.

Wednesday 27th November 2013
Making it Home for Book Week Scotland: “Writing Home” creative writing workshop

The Scottish Poetry Library, 1800-2000, FREE

Come along and see the Making It Home project films, then write your own poem inspired by one or all of them. The lovely and talented Jane McKie will be on hand to encourage discussion and thought on the topics of home, belonging, identity, nationhood, sanctuary and displacement. Come along with a pen, leave with a poem.

Friday 29th November 2013
A Philosophical Football Match for Book Week Scotland

Transmission Gallery 2000–2300 (doors 1930), FREE

What is a philosophical football match, I hear you cry? Well, you get some philosophers, they sit around a table, and a Muse drops in and gives them a topic to debate over. Whoever comes up with the best argument scores a goal, and the philosophers move onto the next topic, until time runs out or the Muse gets tired or the philosophers run out of arguments or… something. And a trusty poet is on hand to record all of it, and create a great work of literature at the end. Sound intriguing? Well, it’s happening on Friday night in Glasgow, and guess who the aforementioned trusty poet is? Please come along and cheer on your favourite philosopher!

Saturday 30th November 2013
Inky Fingers & Book Week Scotland Revenge of the Dead Poets Slam

The New Bongo Club at 66 Cowgate, 1900–2200, FREE

OK, so many things about this event are exciting. One: all the performers are reading poems by dead poets. Two: all the performers will be dressed as dead poets. Three: I get to dress as a dead poet BUT NOT PERFORM! Four: the dead poet I will be dressed as will be DAME EDITH SITWELL (Oh. hell. yes.) Five: I’m one of the judges, along with Alice Tarbuck and, er, Jane McKie (we are each others’ friendly poet-y stalkers), so I have ALL THE POWER MUAHAHA. OK, just kidding. I am a nice judge. Anyway, it’s going to be totally fabulous, and you should really come along, and you should really dress up. Really.

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Shore Poets September: you should all come to this.

Monday, September 16th, 2013

I’m really excited to be announcing — on the Shore Poets blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, and to anyone who stands still for long enough — that the new Shore Poets season is about to commence.
Why am I so excited? Well, I’ve been a Shore Poet for nearly a year… but this is the first season where I’ve actually helped to choose the programme. I’m part of the New Poets sub-committee (oh yes, it’s complex stuff. No, really), which means that all the New Poets hosted by Shore Poets between now and June 2014 have my official seal of approval.

I feel very humbled indeed to be given such responsibility, and greatly appreciate my fellow Shores for taking my thoughts and ideas on board. At our programme-creating meetings, I tried as much as possible to consider the issues I raised in my last post, as well as thinking about the various poets out there whose work I really, really like. Over the course of the new SP season, we’ll be hosting in the New Poet slot people like the excellent Tracey S Rosenberg, and the lovely and talented Theresa Munoz. There’ll also be some really exciting names headlining our events and providing the essential live music… as well as, of course, a great set from one of the Shore Poets to round off each month. (Date for your diary: I’m up on 27th October.)

That’s all to come, but in the meantime, here are the details for the first event of our new season, this very month! It’s going to be all-round brilliant, but I am especially excited to be welcoming Roddy Shippin as the New Poet. I’ve published him here at ONS before, and am always keen to go and hear him read, because he’s great. Just one of many reasons to come along on 29th September… read on to find out the others!

SHORE POETS: September
Henderson’s at St John’s, Lothian Road, Edinburgh
7.45 pm to 10.00 pm
Sunday 29th September 2013

Bar from 7.15pm
Admission £5 / Concessions £3

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Our headline poet this month is Chrys Salt. Chrys is an incredibly prolific writer, with drama and nonfiction titles to her name as well as several poetry collections, including Grass (Indigo Dreams, 2012) and Home Front/Front Line (Roncadora, 2013). She is also an important figure in Scotland’s literary arts scene, working as Artistic Director of arts venue The Bakehouse, and Literature Convener for The Dumfries and Galloway Festival. You can find out more about Chrys, and read some of her poems, by visiting her website, chryssalt.com

angelamc September’s Shore Poet is Angela McSeveney. Angela’s first collection of poems, Coming Out With It, was published in 1992, after she received advice and encouragement from fellow writers Liz Lochhead and Ron Butlin. She has since published several other books of poetry, the most recent of which, Slaughtering Beetroot, was produced by Mariscat Press in 2008.

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Our new poet this month is Roddy Shippin. Roddy is an exciting new voice in Scottish poetry: his work has been published by Poetry Scotland, Ink Sweat & Tears, a handful of stones and One Night Stanzas, among others, and he is one half of the creative team behind the popular monthly spoken word night Blind Poetics. You can read one of Roddy’s poems, Casebook, here.

Our live music for the evening will be provided by Colin Donati and his band, Various Moons.

We’ll also be playing host to our now-regular SP Wildcard Poet… that could be YOU! If you fancy entertaining us with a poem, just put your name in the hat when you pay at the door. One name will be drawn, and that person will get to open proceedings with a poem. Be sure to bring your best work with you!

And of course, a Shore Poets event wouldn’t be complete without our infamous lemon cake raffle.

We hope you’ll come and help us kick off our new season with a bang! Let us know you’re coming — and invite your friends — using our Facebook event!

7.45 pm to 10.00 pm
Sunday 30th June 2013

Bar from 7.15pm
Arrive early to nab a good seat!
Admission £5 / Concessions £3

If you would like to receive regular news about Shore Poets — including being notified of our events — send an e-mail to: newsletter (at) shorepoets.org.uk. You can also contact SP by emailing publicity (at) shorepoets.org.uk

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Budding writer? Creative person in need of a fun job? Check out the various resources and services at Bookworm Tutors. Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Diversity & Scottish poetry

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

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So, it appears that a few days ago, I said some stuff (on Twitter) that pissed some people off. (I know, I know — so what’s new?) I’m generally seeing this as a good thing (I’ve started a conversation that needs to be had, IMHO), however, the statements most folk have seen aren’t as well worded as I’d like them to be (because Twitter), so I felt I ought to take to the blogosphere to clarify. Also, there’s a comment box here. Yay!

So what did you say now, you serial pain-in-the-butt?!
Basically, I wrote a tweet in which I celebrated the fact that Colin McGuire (that’s THE GREAT Colin McGuire to you, sunshine) had won his heat of the Edinburgh Fringe Fest BBC Poetry Slam. All fine and dandy, except in typical flip style, I added that this made me less inclined to think that said slam was a load of bollocks, or something to that effect.

Well, that’s pretty rude.
Yeah, it was rude. It also didn’t show a whole lot of respect for the many people who put a lot of time and effort into making the Beeb slam happen — particularly the performers, many of whom I not only admire as poets but also feel in awe of as humans generally. Nothing about these people’s work is a load of bollocks, and I apologise for being a totally crap human and tweeting that. Seriously: I’m sorry guys. (The tweet is still up btw. I take full ownership of my assholeishness.)

So that’s it?
Nope. Fortunately, the rest of what I said is a bit more coherent. Off the back of that tweet, I got chatting with the excellent Mr Bram E Geiben, who very sensibly prodded me and asked me to explain myself. He wanted to know the reason why I was not a fan of the Beeb slam. And the reason is its lack of diversity. No reflection on the performers — I’m sure it’s an absolutely cracking night’s entertainment (in fact, it’s a week’s worth! And free!). But I said that I felt — ’cause I do feel — that this event is a good example of the fact that Scottish spoken word (and poetry in general) needs to do more to include a wider range of voices.

Poetry in general?
Yeah. Actually, in comparison to “page poetry” (since folk insist on the divide I’m just going with it here, btw), any and all spoken word is far better at this diversity stuff. Read the Free Verse report if you don’t believe me.

So, what’s the issue?
OK, here’s where I make things a bit clearer. Because Twitter, one of my tweets made it sound like I was suggesting that the Beeb slam didn’t include enough queer poets. This isn’t the case — I think queer voices were generally well represented, and I think this is something Scottish spoken word is actually pretty good at, for the most part. What we need to work harder at is including, encouraging and promoting the work of poets of colour, disabled poets, trans* poets, and poets who maybe feel uncertain about getting involved because they fall outside the age range of the vast majority of spoken word performers (let’s say 21-35). Poets whose work is at an intersection, or intersections, in short (aha, now you understand my choice of top-of-post photo!) Lots of grassroots and regular local poetry nights are already working on this, and set a good example. Bigger, flashier events — especially ones like the Beeb slam that draw huge crowds, have money behind them, and claim to represent the national scene — ought to be following this example. When they don’t, I get pretty disappointed.

But isn’t it tokenism to include poets of colour/disabled poets/trans* poets etc, just for the sake of it?
Yep, but that’s not what I’m suggesting. We have this vicious cycle where poets whose voices are at intersections get less gigs (unpacking the reasons why is not something I feel qualified to do here, btw), which means promoters/audiences don’t get to hear about them, which means they get less gigs, which means… etc. These poets are no less talented than the ones who get gigs all the time, so including them is not tokenism. It just takes a bit more effort.
What I’m suggesting is that big, flashy events with lots of cash do the stuff that smaller events can’t or can’t afford to do. Big promoters who run “national” events have the ability (and if you ask me, the responsibility) to do the necessary research to find good poets from all walks of life and bring them to our attention. They have the ability to accommodate a variety of performer needs — travel expenses, accessibility, creating a safe space etc — in a way smaller events and un- or less-well-funded promoters might not be able to afford. They can do it, so they freakin’ well oughtta.

OK, but what makes you the oracle? Are you even a promoter? When was the last time YOU EVEN DID A SLAM?!
Nothing makes me the oracle, nothing at all! (In fact, I thought I was just having a wee chat with Bram — because I’m a bit of a numpty and forgot that Twitter is a public forum.) I’m just one poet who yeah, has actually retired from slams ’cause they scare the crap out of me. No one is in any way obliged to listen to me or do anything about anything as a result of what I say. If I decide your event’s not cool and don’t show up, I doubt it’s going to hurt you any. So feel free to totally ignore my grumpy feminist ass and carry on regardless.
However, I do still perform in Scotland (I’ve been on a hiatus for a while because two jobs & finishing a PhD & renovating a house & & &, but I’ll be back soon I hope), and I yeah, am a promoter. I want Scottish spoken word to be as awesome as it can possibly be, not just so my poetry can benefit, but so that more folk — folk like the women I worked with on the Making It Home Project, for example — can feel confident to rock up to an open mic or a slam with their poems in their hand and take to the stage.

So all the events you’ve ever organised have been perfect, have they?
Oh hell no. I’ve only really started to think about this stuff since I got properly into being an intersectional (feminist) activist, which I am still learning how to do. I was pretty proud of my International Women’s Day All-Female slam last year, and I am so, so proud of the work Making It Home have done to bring poetry and spoken word to brand new audiences (NB: I an take credit for barely any of this — the rest of the MIH team was absolutely stellar and deserve all the praise). However, with other events I ran in the past — like Watskyx2, for example — I was far too worried about how find a venue and how to get people through the door and how to balance the books and WHAT TO WEAR WHEN I MET GEORGE WATSKY to worry about making sure my line-up was inclusive and my event welcoming. So I understand that it’s hard. I’m still learning. I just want to get folk thinking about it!

You’re always complaining though. Don’t you ever say anything NICE?
THIS IS A TOTALLY FAIR POINT. I think I may have become the Grumpy Old Bag of Scottish poetry, which is a title I can happily live with if it gets people having important conversations about how to make our scene more welcoming, diverse and generally fab. BUT YES, there is a lot going on in Scottish spoken word that needs to be celebrated. Too much to list everything here, in fact, but my highlights would include the following:
- Inky Fingers do freaking great work, full stop.
- I’m really sad Ten Red is no more. That was a hell of a poetry night, and I will mourn it for a long time.
- New kids on the block Tricolour and Rally & Broad HELLO THERE. I am sorry I have yet to make it along to EITHER because of MY LIFE GOING AT 90MPH. However, there’s no question that these events are exciting and exciting poets are reading at them. (I am honoured to have been invited to read at Tricolour in September and I hope very much to be in the audience at Rally & Broad soon.)
- Blind Poetics. One of Edinburgh’s most accessible open mic platforms, and they now have a publication, which is extra exciting.
- There are so, so many individual poets whose work I love but here’s just a small selection: Camilla Chen, Colin McGuire, Theresa Munoz, Kevin Cadwallender, Sally Evans, Chris Emslie (I hope the US appreciates you, ’cause Scotland sure misses you!), Gayle Smith, Graeme Hawley, Rachel Amey, Priscilla Chueng-Nainby, Anne Connolly, Mira Knoche, Tracey Rosenberg, Nuala Watt, the aforementioned Bram Geiben, Ryan Van Winkle, Samuel Tongue, Jenny Lindsay, Nancy Somerville… OK, you get the message! There are tons of talented folk out there and I am SO HAPPY about this. If I don’t make that happiness clear enough often enough, I sincerely apologise. We’re great! We just could be even more great, basically!

So, what’re you actually doing about it?
I’ve decided it’s time to revive Read This Press. The last anthology I did was the Allen Ginsberg birthday one, and it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever had the pleasure to be involved in. (Some of you may recall I was planning a similar Adrienne Rich themed anthology? Yeah, that was before I found out she was a transphobe. Aint no way I’m celebrating that, thank you very much. More details on this soon.) That was two years ago and it’s time for the next thing.
I haven’t worked all the details out yet, but I want to create an anthology (the usual hand-made, DIY, zine-y style, of course) that celebrates poets whose voices a) are Scottish or connected with Scotland and b) explore an intersection or intersections. I’m still figuring it out, but watch this space for more details.

I think that’s it. However, if you want to clarify anything, ask anything, or yell at me, you can do so in the comment box. You’ll go in the mod queue, because everything does (sorry). I’ll get you approved asap, though.

(Photo credit)

Want to go to a poetry reading? Shore Poets February is nearly here!

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Follon,%20Cheryl%20by%20Gerry%20Cambridge
Cheryl Follon. Photo by Gerry Cambridge

SHORE POETS: FEBRUARY
Henderson’s at St John’s, Lothian Road, Edinburgh
7.45 pm to 10.00 pm
Sunday 24th February 2013

Bar from 7.15pm
Admission £5 / Concessions £3

You’ve already read our recent news — now it’s time for our latest event. This month, our headline reader is Cheryl Follon.

Cheryl Follon was born in Ayrshire, where she grew up. She studied Law and then English and Scottish Literature at Glasgow University before taking an MPhil in Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin, and now teaches at a college of further education in Glasgow. She has received two writer’s bursaries from the Scottish Arts Council, and has published two collections with Bloodaxe, All Your Talk (2004) and Dirty Looks (2010). Her essay on the Mojave desert was shortlisted for the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing in 2012. (via)

Here’s an extract from Cheryl’s poem, Dinner. You can read the whole thing at the Scottish Poetry Library website.

As you shucked the last oysters
onto your side plate
and ordered a lemon ice

I found myself in the guise of a large beetle
down amongst the spilt salt grains
and your slim-line after-dinner cigarettes.

I was a swarm of fifty thousand bees
floating up towards the Venus de Milo
and the damp patches on the ceiling.

miriamg and christinedl

Also on our bill for February are new poet Miriam Gamble, and Shore Poet Chrstine de Luca.

In addition, we’ll also be presenting the 2013 Mark Ogle Memorial Award to Anna Crowe, for her poem “Swallows”. The award is given in February to one of the new or headline poets from our previous season’s events. They are selected and commissioned by the Shore Poets to create a poem for the award. Previous winners include Tom Pow, Frances Leviston and Elizabeth Burns. We’re delighted to be welcoming Anna to the event this month!

Remember, we’ve also introduced a Shore Poets wildcard slot, an idea we’ve borrowed from poetry slams. Basically, if you think you’d fancy reading at Shore Poets, all you have to do is come along and stick you name in the hat when you pay at the door. One name will be drawn, and that person gets to read one poem / for three minutes (no running over!) at the start of the night. Go on… be brave!

There will also be music from Andy Miller.

As always: incredible poetry, live music, a friendly and cosy atmosphere and delicious cakes and other refreshments provided by Henderson’s!

The venue is Henderson’s at St John’s, Lothian Road, Edinburgh

7.45 pm to 10.00 pm
Sunday 24th February 2013
Bar from 7.15pm
Arrive early to nab a good seat!
Admission £5 / Concessions £3

If you would like to receive regular news about our poetry events, send e-mail to: newsletter (at) shorepoets.org.uk

Tell us you’re coming at our Facebook event! You can also join us at our Facebook group.

Readings by mainly Scottish poets
on the last Sunday of every month

Scottish Book Trust logo

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Edinburgh Vintage is BACK! with a great big supermassive sale.

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Christmas gift time!
This cool sterling silver owl is on sale.

For sale right now at Edinburgh Vintage!

Christmas gift time!
These cute kitty cats are on sale.

Sale!
This magical sweater is on sale.

Christmas gift time!
This set of sweet trinket boxes are on sale.

Sale!
This cosy alpaca hat is on sale.

Sneak peek
This breezy striped dress is on sale.

You get the gist, right? EVERY SINGLE ITEM AT EDINBURGH VINTAGE IS CURRENTLY ON SALE OR IN THE FINAL CLEARANCE SECTION! See something you like? Snap it up!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Dear Poetry Newbies: writing rules revisited

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Rules for the Teacher
^Because I just love these.

So, lately I’ve taken to digging up some old articles I wrote in the early days of One Night Stanzas and re-posting them here for your reading pleasure (mostly because I have a ton of new readers now who might not have the patience to trawl the archives. Also because — forgive the arrogance — I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised by the quality of some of the stuff I’ve got stowed back there, and reckon it deserves another look). (I’m calling this initiative “Dear Poetry Newbies” — click for all the series so far!) The other day, I went right back to the start and found this post from September 2008. In it, I wrote what my writing rules were… and was pretty shocked at myself, I must say! Some of them I still totally agree with, but others? Let’s just say I’ve learned a lot in four years!

3: No centre-justification, weird indents or funny formatting.
Centre-justification’s fine if it’s what you do, if you like it and reckon there’s a reason for it; I just don’t do it - no idea why. I have been known to use indents, but really not very often. Basically, I think I don’t use funny formatting for two reasons… one, because sometimes other people use it and ruin lovely poems by filling them with white spaces and making them impossible to read (this makes me sad). And two: because I’m too lazy - working out where an indent might ‘work’ is just too much effort, frankly!

OK… I am ashamed. I can’t quite believe I used to be One Of Those People. I’m fairly sure that much of what I meant by “funny formatting” might be better termed “concrete poetry,” a genre of which I am now a massive fan. Reading more widely — and also living with a concrete poet for two years — has taught me that actually, the white space of the page is there to be used. It isn’t just a passive background on which to hang a poem — if you want it to, the negative space around your words can be just as vital to their meaning as the words themselves. I think this “rule” was actually fatigue in disguise — running a tiny magazine, I was sick to death of reading poems where the space was used in all manner of weird ways, just not for any reason or to any particular effect. But note to self: your magazine’s slush pile does not the entire poetry world represent. Cheer up, emo kid!

4: Always ‘finish’ a poem in one sitting.
Obviously I don’t mean finish it - I edit and redraft afterwards. But I like to get the skeleton of a poem down all in one go… I’ve tried writing in ‘bits’ before, and the poems always sound disjointed. I probably should learn how to drop a poem and go back to it, it would save me a lot of anguish!

Nothing shameful about this rule, I’ve just stopped abiding by it. It used to be the only way I could work, but now — happily, I think — I’m getting much more chilled about allowing a piece of writing to shape itself at its own pace. I think that’s been one of the most important things I’ve learned in putting together the creative part of my PhD actually — poems are like people. They all have different personalities, wants, needs, and I should to respect those things.

7: No writing in dialects other than my own.
I wrote a short story not so long ago that was in Scots. I live in Scotland and have done for almost all of my life - I think of myself as Scottish, but I’ve never actually picked up the accent. The story was apparently convincing enough to win quite a big prize, but when I thought I’d have to read it aloud at the prize-giving, I realised that writing in Scots had been a big mistake! Fortunately, I got out of reading it, but I have now learned, and will never write another piece using someone else’s accent!

I’ve come a long way in four years in terms of my attitude towards my own national identity. At the point where I wrote this “rule”, I desperately wanted to call myself a Scot, but felt like a fraud — people were still telling me I was English, I sounded English, I was born in England, shut up you’re English. I felt like I had a big red ‘E’ pinned to me, and I didn’t want it, it didn’t fit me. I hated my stupid turncoat accent. I was in a place where, if people asked me where I was from, I’d say “it’s complicated, don’t ask.”
Now, when people ask me where I’m from I say, Edinburgh (true). When people tell me I sound English, I say I lived down there as a small child and picked up the accent (true). When they point out I was born in England, I tell them that my great-grandmother was Amy Armstrong of theLiddesdale Armstrongs, directly related to Johnie and to Kinmont Willie. I tell them the Scottish/English border was, almost literally, drawn with my ancestors’ blood and entrails. And if that doesn’t work, I say f*ck you, I’m Scottish.
I’m still not sure I’d be 100% happy reading a short story in Teri to a roomful of people, but I feel a long way away from the frightened little poet who wrote this “rule” four years ago. Finding where you belong is no small thing, and re-reading this was a really amazing sign of how far I’ve come in that regard.

10: Do not participate in petty competition or snobbery.
I know a lot poetry-involved people, and I read a lot of the opinions of poetry-involved people, and sadly, some poetry-involved people aren’t very nice. There are a lot of individuals out there who like to bitch about other writers, put down certain types of poets (often young, inexperienced ones, which is horribly unfair), deliberately try to wreck other people’s chances of success and tout their own opinions of what’s “good” and “bad” as the last word in what poetry ought to be. My final - and biggest - rule is this: ignore these people. In fact, don’t just ignore them - boycott them. Don’t read their blogs, don’t buy their books, don’t listen to their rubbish. Don’t let them put you down, and don’t retaliate to them. Often they’re people whose own successes have disappointed them, so just move on and up, and concentrate on your own writing. Don’t fall into the trap of being like this yourself. Don’t speak or write ill of others — help them instead. Turn the poetry community back into a community!

I think I’ve become more chilled and accepting about this stuff — cronyism, snottiness towards newcomers, etc — and I’m now in a literary circle that I’ve carefully cultivated and consciously edited so I don’t have to deal with this sort of shit anymore. I still know of a lot of people in the poetry community who like to curate other people’s responses to poetry, who demand that others explain their opinions and choices to them, who dismiss certain ideas/styles/genres/types of people, who engage in obvious nepotism. I know of them, but I make it my business to not know them. I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as being A Big Cheese In The Poetry Community. People who think they are this, or who aspire to be this, are just kind of funny. I still agree with what I said in this “rule,” but I might re-write it now to put the emphasis less on raging against these people and more on just ignoring them (and maybe giggling at them behind your hands) and getting on with more important business: namely, putting words onto a page. And I mean the page of your personal notebook, not the page of some prestigious journal. It’s the writing that’s the most important thing, not what happens to it after. That stuff’s all just window-dressing.

What are YOUR unwritten poetry rules?

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)