Posts Tagged ‘scottish’

Need a writer? Book a writer! (& pick me!)

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

StAnza 2011 Preview
Photo by Chris Scott.

Have you ever fancied:

- organising a poetry reading?
- organising a reading of fiction?
- inviting a writer to come and speak at your community group?
- getting your youth group involved with creative writing?
- organising a talk about writing?
- having an author come and visit your book club?
- finding a really good judge for your slam?
- hiring a professional writer for just about anything at all?

Scottish Book Trust can help!
Right now, SBT is open for applications to its Live Literature Fund. This amazing, one-of-a-kind fund enables individuals and organisations to source a poet, author, storyteller or illustrator to take part in an event or events, and helps to pay them a proper fee. The Live Literature Fund has its own database of vetted writers and artists, each of them bringing a different skillset to the fore.

Applications for the latest round of Live Literature Funding close on 30th September, so if you fancy doing any of the above, get in there quick!

…and, if you’re stuck for a writer to invite, you could always pick me!

To date, I have:

- visited high schools and talked to students about all aspects of poetry, reading and writing
- worked with vulnerable adults (in settings like women’s support groups, homeless and vulnerably housed groups, and groups for intravenous drug-users), using poetry as a way to voice, share or move on from traumatic stories or experiences
- worked extensively with adult literacy groups to engage those who struggle with reading
- worked extensively with ‘reluctant readers,’ especially young men
- worked with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants to help them tell stories of home and homecoming
- judged many a poetry competition, and many a slam
- competed in many a slam, and won a few!
- taken part in panel discussions on all manner of things
- given talks on all sorts of stuff, from my PhD research into contemporary women’s poetry, to the strategies we need to adopt to get vulnerable individuals more involved in Scottish culture and the arts
- given hundreds of poetry readings to audiences ranging from four people in a field to an Edinburgh International Book Festival crowd!

I’m always up for a challenge, too, so if what you fancy doing doesn’t sound like anything you see listed there, that doesn’t mean I won’t be up for trying it. So if you successfully secure LLF funding (or even if you don’t, and find the funds from elsewhere!), feel free to drop me a line via claire [at] onenightstanzas.com, or you can follow my antics on Twitter. You can also read my profile on the Live Literature Database itself.

Good luck!

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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!

10 writerly items from Edinburgh Vintage (plus, SALE!)

Monday, July 7th, 2014

There’s a great big sale on at Edinburgh Vintage! Over a third of the entire store is reduced in that sale, with more items being added all the time. Here are ten cool items that might be particularly tempting to all you writerly types…

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1. First edition Maya Angelou poetry collection
The literary world lost A GIANT in Maya Angelou. This collection of poems — one of her best — proves it.

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2. An antique leaded crystal and solid silver inkwell, dated 1906
OK, you may not actually use a quill pen… but all writers have pretentions, right?

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3. A fancy vintage bookmark.
You can never have too many of these things. And this one is in the $10 clearance section!

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4. A really, really swish cup of tea.
Or coffee. Or whatever hot tasty beverage keeps you going through a marathon writing session. Have it in this very pretty cup!

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5. A rather suave pocket watch.
All writers need a timepiece, to keep an eye on how much they’re procrastinating! Might as well be a super cool Soviet era pocketwatch

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6. A wise old owl
…to store some pennies in. Sorry, it’s true: most writers are poor. You need this.

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7. A retro pocketbook.
When did they stop making these? They’re wallets, but with a space for a little notebook! This one even has a Latin inscription.

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8. A literary souvenir
(From Paris, obv, one of the great literary cities of the world.)

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9. …or two.
(Or from London, which is another one!)

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10. Some kitsch classic literature
…complete with cute illustrations.

Over 600 items in the shop — EV also has a Facebook page and a Twitter — and I’d appreciate you forever if you’d go and send me some love!

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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!

Making Scotland Home: submit your story to Scotland’s Stories of Home!

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

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Making It Home brought together many nationalities and cultures: the women hailed from places like Algeria, Kosovo, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Iraq and Ghana, as well as Scotland, England and Ireland. What could all these very different women possibly have in common? The answer soon became clear: they all wanted to tell their stories of home.

Last week I wrote a blogpost for my lovely employers, Scottish Book Trust, about the Making It Home project. Why? Well partly because — as you probably know if you read this blog — I think MiH is an incredibly exciting project and everyone ought to know about it. But also because MiH was all about telling stories about home, and specifically, what it means to call Scotland home. And that’s exactly what SBT’s public participation campaign for 2014 is all about.

It’s called Scotland’s Stories of Home, and we want to hear the story of YOUR home in Scotland, whether you’re originally from here or you just moved here recently. You can write about anything, from the four walls you live in to the food smells that automatically make you think “Scotland”; from a distant childhood memory to a funny story you just heard last week. If it means “home” to you, we want to hear it. You don’t have to be a professional writer — the complete opposite, in fact! You just have to have a cool tale to tell. If you think this sounds like you, submit your story of home here, and you could be featured in the newspaper, on our website, or even in our Stories of Home book!

The deadline for SSoH submissions is 30th June. But wait… before you run off and submit, go and read the rest of my blogpost!

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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!

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)

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!

Featured poem, “Casebook” by Roddy Shippin

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

red carpet

Casebook

The last king, by the entrails of the last priest, in the conservatory.

The speaking clock, by the candlestick, in the director’s cut.

The bull, by the horns, in the china shop.

My honey, by the light of the silvery moon, in June.

The mourner, by the waters of Babylon, in high tide.

The hospital, by the Conservative, in the bill.

The author, by the post-structuralist, in the library.

Roddy Shippin is a young (though greying) Edinburgh-based writer/call centre lackey. He’s had poems on the Poetry Scotland Open Mouse and a handful of stones, as well as various incarnations of the St Andrews student writing society (Inklight) journal. He probably spends more time thinking about snooker than is technically necessary.

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Want to see YOUR poem featured on ONS? Read this post first: submission guidelines are at the bottom. Good luck!

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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)

A few thanks: the International Women’s Day all-female slam

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Hayley Shields
The lovely and talented Hayley Shields, reading in Round 1.

So, this happened on Tuesday 6th March.

It almost didn’t. In the 72 hours prior to the event, I had three performers drop off the bill, which obviously threw everything into flux and got me in quite a flap. Luckily, I’m fortunate enough to be acquainted with two extremely classy, very brave and super dedicated female poets who were willing to step into the breach with less than 48 hours to prepare. They are Rose Ritchie and Elizabeth Rimmer, and without them the slam might well have been cancelled! Thank you so much, Rose and Elizabeth. You literally saved the show.

So cancelled it was not. We arrived at the Banshee Labyrinth to find our room beautifully set up for us: chairs set out, a projector screen with my hastily-felt-tipped poster glowing upon it, and even candles lit on stage to provide some ambience! Edd, who runs the Banshee, is the coolest, most laid-back, and most accomodating venue manager I have ever worked with. He’d even rigged up a TV link in the next bar, so folk who couldn’t get a seat in the main room could still watch the action and hear the poems — by my next event (which will almost certainly take place at the Banshee — I can’t imagine ever going elsewhere), he says the bar will have the capability to record performances, too. SO. TOTALLY. COOL. Thank you, Edd, and all the lovely staff at the Banshee. You, quite literally, rock.

It was evident that folk were pretty keen about this whole slam business, because by 7.15pm we were already running out of chairs and the space was full of excited chatter. All my performers showed up, some of them very nervous, but all with notebookfulls of great poems to share. As many of them were slam virgins, I’d emotionally blackmailed three brilliant male poets to volunteer as “sacrifices” — to read first at the start of each round, break the ice and warm up the room for our competitors. This was a pretty intimidating gig for these guys, I’d imagine: a room full of poetry feministas vying for prizes of wine and chocolate! But they stepped up to the plate with aplomb. Total pro Harry Giles went first, followed in the second round by Matt McDonald. Matt took the opportunity to declare himself a rape survivor ally, and his piece was poignant, quietly angry and beautifully hopeful. Many an audience member came up to me to say his was their favourite poem of the night. Finally, Colin McGuire came up to introduce the final and brought the house down, as usual. Thank you a million billion, guys: you are legends.

Then, of course, it was the turn of my wonderful bill of competitors. They’re all people I’ve seen read before, at open mics, stand-up readings or “quiet” slams, and they’re all people whose work I’ve been desperate to hear more of. I wanted the focus of the event to be the promotion of lesser-known female poetic talent first and foremost, and if possible, I also wanted it to be as intersectional — something that can be problematic in Scotland — as possible. I’m happy to say that I think the event succeeded on both counts — no thanks to me, but thanks to the bravery of the women who were willing to say “yes” to my invitations. The stage played host to explorations of such themes as nationality, sexuality, gender orientation, relationships, travel, writing and creativity, and of course, food! The poems we heard were by turns hilariously funny and deeply touching, seethingly angry and sweetly loving. Above all, the quality was consistently, breathtakingly high.
Thanks upon thanks upon thanks upon thanks to Gayle Smith, Hayley Shields, Tracey S Rosenberg, Rose Ritchie, Elizabeth Rimmer, Theresa Munoz, Katherine McMahon, Rachel McCrum, Sally Evans, Katie Craig, Camilla Chen and the last-minute ever-so-nearly-wildcard Lara S. Williams. You were all so excellent — the judges must’ve been tearing their hair out…

…and yes, the judges. Slam aficionados, all of them, and yet scoring these ladies’ words must have been a damn hard job. A great big tip of the hat to Kevin Cadwallender, Jenny Lindsay and Sophia. You did well, young Jedis.

Big thanks too to Stephen Welsh, who helped put up posters, carried things, calmed me down when I raged and fretted, made endless bar trips on the night, and acted as primary score-keeper. And to Helen Askew, who worked as secondary score-keeper, keeping Steve right, as well as taking photos of the event while I bobbed up and down to and from the stage all night. (She also carried some things.) You were INVALUABLE, you two.

Finally, last but by no means least — in fact quite the opposite — THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who sent words of encouragement, who promoted the event on their Facebook or their blog, who spread the word to other interested folk, and who came along on the night. Best of all were all the people who dropped some pennies into our fundraising bucket. From your small change, we managed to make £70 for Scottish Women’s Aid. THANK YOU A MILLION GAZILLION SQUILLION!

Rachel McCrum
The excellent and extremely deserving winner, Rachel McCrum.

Now… what should we do next International Women’s Day?

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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!