Events

Rally & Broad…Le Grand Relaunch! It’s Here!

Comrades! Pals! Dearest! Lend us your whatsits! It’s finally here! Season 4 is GO! With not one but FOUR events coming up this very week…come see us in Edinburgh, Dundee and/or Glasgow, with some most excellent of friends….

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  • Friday 23rd October: ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ – Rally & Broad in association with the Mental Health Foundation. With Delighted Peoples, Loki & Becci Wallace, Harry Giles, Chrissy Barnacle and Dog On A Swing. Doors 7pm, the Bongo Club, Edinburgh. £5 on the door or in advance here. Part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival.
  • Saturday 24th October: Rally & Broad at Literary Dundee! With Toby Mottershead (Black Diamond Express) and Lucy Ribchester. 9 – 1030pm, Bonar Hall, Dundee. £3/£2 on the door or in advance here.
  • Sunday 25th October: ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ (Glasgow edition). With Blue Rose Code, Martin Figura, Helen Ivory, Cat Hepburn & The Miss’s. With special guest performer, Iranian writer Sepideh Jodeyri, in association with Scottish Pen. Doors 230pm, Stereo, Glasgow. £5 on the door or in advance here.

Not only these three tasty extravaganzas to get Season 4 well and truly underway, but we’ll also be hosting the Saltire Society 2015 Literary Award Shortlist announcements on Thursday 22nd October in Edinburgh. It’s gonna be a busy old week. We can’t wait to get cracking, and we’d love to see your faces.

Catch you at the front? Ours is a raspberry martini.

xx

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We’re all Tangled Up In Blue…Season 4 Launch!

Rally & Broad ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ – Season 4 relaunch!

Friday 23rd October, Edinburgh, Bongo Club. 730 – 1030pm, in association with the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival. Tickets £5 – available here!

Sunday 25th October, Glasgow, Stereo. 230 – 530pm. Tickets £5: available here!

Dearest pals!

We’re utterly delighted to be back for our FOURTH SEASON, which will see us continuing our core cabarets in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as various other bits and bobs that we’ll tell ye about as we go. 

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We’re launching in the weekend of Fri 23 – Sun 25th October! Have a wee squizz at our terrifically eclectic line-ups! Spread the word, diaries oot, click attending on that Facebook (Edina, Glasgow) pen us in, and come on down!

IN EDINBURGH!

We’ve teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation for the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival. And whit a line-up we have….
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Rally & Broad: Season 4!

Good day, comrades!

We hope this finds you brutally well and in full fine fettle.

Rally & Broad have had a gorgeous summer of words, including some small naps and a glorious August.

We looked out to all things across the world at the Festival of Politics with pals A New International and Sophia Walker in the veh fancy surroundings of Holyrood; and then finished August in the glorious Spiegeltent at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with a roof-raising, tongue twisting medley of words and music exploring all things (mis)communication  for ‘The Interpretation Edition’ at Jura Unbound, in the damn fine company of R M Hubbert, Rebecca Green, Harry Giles, Bram E Gieben, Chrissy Barnacle and Jonathan Lamy.

And now, dearhearts, we have some exciting news….

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Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (The Glasgow Edition)…End of Season Shows!

Sunday 28th June, 230pm, Stereo, Renfield Lane, Glasgow. With AL Kennedy, Findlay Napier, Kirsty Logan, Michael Pedersen and Maud the Moth! Tickets £5 on the door or available in advance here.

So, this is it, chaps. So long and thanks for all the fish. It’s been a blast. We’ve loved seeing you. It’s not you, it’s us. Toodlepip, arrivederci, auf wiedersehen, au revoir. Kisses. See ye around…

JOKES LOLCATS!

We’ll be back in October for Season 4, by hook or by crook, and there is plenty to be getting on with in the meantime. But yes, this is the very final show of Season 3 for us, and we’d love it if you could come out to play. Helping us kiss off the year, in very very fine form and fettle, are…

AL KENNEDY!

ALKennedyTheList

A.L.Kennedy was born in Dundee in 1965. She is the author of 15 books: 6 novels, 6 short story collections and 3 works of non-fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Her new book All The Rage – a collection of short stories – was published by Jonathan Cape in spring 2014 and she will be reading from this collection at Rally & Broad.

An intense vulnerability, shot through with fragments of Kennedy’s dark humour… A sure-footed and intelligently organised collection.” (The Guardian)

http://www.a-l-kennedy.co.uk/

FINDLAY NAPIER!

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Findlay Napier is one of the most highly-regarded performers and creative forces on the Scottish music scene – thoroughly active and truly energised with a heart-warming zing. Findlay is also well known as the host of Celtic Connections’ Late Night Sessions and for his Hazy Recollections concert series which showcases the very best in new roots music.

His new album, VIP: Very Interesting Persons, contains ten songs about real life characters that have led very interesting lives.

“A collection of cracking songs that all add up to a cracking album… his voice has a mesmerising addictive quality to it…” (Maverick Magazine)

http://www.findlaynapier.com/

KIRSTY LOGAN!

KirstyLogan

Kirsty Logan is an exciting, young, Scottish literary talent, rapidly gaining notice for her short stories and fiction. She is the author of acclaimed short-story collection The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales, and her debut novel The Gracekeepers was published in 2015. Kirsty is also a Rally & Broad favourite, with a gorgeous, sharp reading style, and The Gracekeepers has been required bedside table reading at Rally & Broad Towers for quite some time…

“The Gracekeepers is a seemingly impossible combination of the lyrical and the gritty, the magical and the brutal. In haunting prose Kirsty Logan has woven a compelling, emotionally dense fairytale that kept me enthralled ‘til the last page.” –Tamar Cohen

http://www.kirstylogan.com/

MICHAEL PEDERSEN!

MichaelPedersen

Michael Pedersen is a poet, playwright and performer with a broad track-record of collaborations with musicians, film-makers and artists across the UK. Pedersen’s first, partly-illustrated, full-length collection, Play With Me, was published in 2013 by Polygon Books (Guest editor Gerry Cambridge).

He is co-founder of the literary night and record label Neu! Reekie!, the lyricist for the band Jesus, Baby! and has written short plays for troupes such as the National Theatre of Scotland/Five Minute Theatre.

‘If you like poetry that is cool, smart, hilarious and quirky and can just suddenly rip your heart out, Michael Pedersen is your man’ – Irvine Welsh

https://twitter.com/scribepedersen

and MAUD THE MOTH!

MaudTheMoth

Classically-trained but thoroughly unique artist, Amaya Lopez (Maud The Moth) presents songs from album The Inner Wasteland. Deriving influences as varied as jazz, modern composition and heavy metal, Maud The Moth makes her Glasgow debut at our extra-special end-of-season show! We’re utterly delighted about it!

https://maudthemoth.bandcamp.com/

See ye there? Ours is a shandy. We’ll bring the cake. Love ye, xx

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Ev’ry Time We Say GoodBye (Edinburgh)…End of Season Shows!

Friday 19th June, 7pm, The Bongo Club, Cowgate, Edinburgh. With Ross Sutherland, Hannah Silva, Dan Willson (Withered Hand), Ryan Van Winkle and Caro Bridges. Tickets £5, and available in advance here

…we die a little..

And thus it ends…for this Season at least. We’ve come to the end of our third year Rally-ing & Broad-ing about the place, and we’re aff for a nap in July*. But we couldn’t go without saying goodbye… and what a goodbye it will be. Celebrating all things au revoir, a bientot, toodlepip, farewell and see ye soon with us…

[*Never fear, loves: plots are afoot for Season 4, starting from October, and we’ll be bobbing about Edinburgh in August too…come see us with our very own solo shows at SHIFT/ at Summerhall!]

ROSS SUTHERLAND!

RossSutherlandPennedInTheMargins

One of the UK’s top poets and performers. Author of four collections of poetry, member of the Aisle 16 collective, and currently touring acclaimed new show ‘Standby For Tape Back-Up’, Sutherland is an ingenious writer of stunningly unique work.

Beautifully crafted, strikingly original”★★★★ The Telegraph

Dizzyingly clever”★★★★ The Independent

http://www.rosssutherland.co.uk

HANNAH SILVA!

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Hannah Silva is a poet, playwright and performer known for her innovative explorations of form, voice and language in performance. Her work explores a wide range of subjects: from political rhetoric (Opposition) to paranormal science (Total Man), teenage sexual identity (Orchid) to long distance running (Marathon Tales). Her current performance, Schlock!, is a meditation on pain, the body and the self, consent, complicity and ownership. She has given some of the most jaw dropping sets on a Rally & Broad stage, and we’re absolutely delighted to have her back in Edinburgh.

“One of the most ambitious and entertaining poets in the country.” (The Times)

http://hannahsilva.co.uk/

DAN WILLSON aka WITHERED HAND!

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A set of beautifully executed songs from one of Scotland’s most gifted songwriters. Described as ‘The UK’s best lyricist’ by King Creosote in The Independent, Dan’s live solo performances are fragile, beautiful and uplifting.

“Endlessly loveable stuff” (NME)

http://witheredhand.com/

RYAN VAN WINKLE!

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Ryan’s critically praised first collection, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, was published by Salt in 2010 and won the Crashaw Prize. A forthcoming second collection is forthcoming from Penned in the Margins. An Edinburgh-based poet and live-artist, Ryan has toured nationally and internationally including at the Erbil Literature Festival in Iraq; as part of the Auld Enemies tour, and the Wordstorm Festival in Darwin. He’s recently launched his new collection The Good Dark with Penned In The Margins, and we’re excited to hear from it. Ryan is also an endlessly generous promoter, collaborator, tour organiser, podcast maestro and overall galvanising force for the Edinburgh poetry scene (although he’d never admit it, and you probably don’t realise you’ve been galvanised until he’s left the building). The Golden Hour, which ran at The Forest in Bristo Place, was one of the inspirations behind Rally & Broad…oh look what you’ve done, Ryan! xx

“Here is a new and authentic voice with a punch in the language.” — Penelope Shuttle

http://ryanvanwinkle.com/

and CARO BRIDGES!

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Summery and sweet, varied and interesting, Caro’s words and tunes can’t fail to make you smile. Having performed extensively, both solo and with her band The River, Caro returns to the The Bongo Club after being support act for A New International’s album launch, hosted by Rally & Broad. We loves her.

https://carobridges.bandcamp.com/

And with all the usual spraffling, raffling and lyrical nonsense from your hosts Rally (Jenny Lindsay) & the Broad (Rachel McCrum). Ours is a double brandy and Red Bull, and some Nytol, aye? We’ll pour the champagne. xx

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Because The Night…(Glasgow edit)

Rally & Broad ‘Because the Night…’ at Stereo, Glasgow, on Sunday 31st May. With Caroline Bird, The Last September, Alan Bissett (and friends), Hailey Beavis and Marianne Macrae. And all ye who came. All photos by Chris Scott.

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Because The Night…Rally & Broad in Glasgow in May (& it’s our 50th Show!*)

Rally & Broad: Because the Night…Sunday 31st May, Stereo, Glasgow. With Caroline Bird, The Last September, Marianne MacRae and Hailey Beavis. Tickets £5 on the door on in advance here

…belongs to us…

Hola, comrades.

George Orwell reckoned you get the face you deserve at 50…

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From oor very first show in Edinburgh in October 2012. Look at those fresh wee mugs…

In May 2015, we’re celebrating our FIFTIETH SHOW!

Well, sortof – in all honesty, we’re not entirely sure if the 50th show is in Edinburgh or Glasgow and actually, it might well be our 57th, but pedantry bedamned, frankly. We’re going to have a party. There might be cake. Because The Night…belongs to us. In all its forms and dreams and terrors. Come raise a glass with us…

With some of our favourite old faces (they’re not old. It’s just…aye, ye ken…) and some utterly delightful new ones

CAROLINE BIRD!

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Caroline Bird is one of the most dynamic, incisive, astounding performance poets in the UK, while also being a playwright, performer and much more. The Hat-Stand Union (Carcanet) is her fourth published collection of poetry, and she’ll be reading from that, and new work besides. Also, she is an excellent drinking companion. We can testify.

‘Bird is irrepressible; she simply explodes with poetry. The work erupts, spring-loaded, funny, sad, deadly – you don’t know if a bullet will come out of the barrel or a flag with the word BANG on it.’
Simon Armitage

http://www.carolinebird.co.uk/

ALAN BISSETT!

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Author, playwright, theatre-maker, performer, activist. We never know what Alan is going to bring to the R&B stage, and we love him for that. We don’t know what he’s planning this time either. Come and see….

Bissett is a terrific performer, capable of terrifying, high-speed transitions…[has] wit, sharp political intelligence, and an ability to entertain his growing army of fans.’ (Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman)

http://alanbissett.com/

THE LAST SEPTEMBER!

TheLastSeptember2

The Last September are on an exciting detour into fresh musical territory, inspired by indie, folk, rock and the odd spaghetti-western thrown in for good measure. Come hear tunes from new album Volcano!

‘…tight, driven and energetic’

http://www.thelastseptember.co.uk/

MARIANNE MACRAE!

858720_10152637770660235_2108050673_oSurreal tales and poetic meanderings through the off-kilter of the everyday. Marianne is one of our new favourite voices on the spoken word scene in Scotland. Did you hear the one about the squirrel?

https://twitter.com/mariannemacrae

…and HAILEY BEAVIS!

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Exciting and innovative artist, singer-songwriter and performer, Hailey Beavis is not only lyrically delightful but utterly captivating on stage. An R&B favourite and a must-see act!

http://www.last.fm/music/Hailey+Beavis

And all the usual spraffing and raffling with your resident comperes, poets, players-with-words, Jenny Lindsay & Rachel McCrum. Come celebrate with us. Ours is a slab of Victoria Sponge and a glass of warm beer.

xx

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I’ll Get You Anything My Friend

Gosh, the April shows were jampacked with goodness! From Stereo on Sunday 26th April…The Creative Martyrs! Katy Hastie! A very special showing of Nae Pasaran! Luke Wright! Jonnie Common! Raffles! Spraffings! Solidarity! See ye next month…xx

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Because the Night… – Rally & Broad 50th Show! With The Mental Health Foundation.

Rally & Broad ‘Because the Night’ – Friday 15th May, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh. With Aidan Moffat, Kathryn Joseph, Anneliese Mackintosh, McGuire and Liz Cronin. Doors at 730pm, £5. 

…belongs to us…

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This month marks our 50th event since those heady, hectic begininings in October 2012 and to celebrate that, and many other things beside, Because The Night! pulls together some of our most favourite past acts alongside newcomers to the R&B stage!

In both Edinburgh and Glasgow we’ll be celebrating The Night with the help of excellent line-ups, and in Edinburgh, an extra-special partnership gig in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation and the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

Because The Night! (Edinburgh) is simultaneously a sparkling line-up of utterly delicious lyrical delight to celebrate the Night (that is, the show, the show, our 50th show!) as well as being a celebration of using the arts to address the stigma of ill mental health.

With…

AIDAN MOFFAT!

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Prolific and multi-talented Scottish songwriter in a special spoken word set. You know it all…Arab Strap, Mogwai collaborations, the collaborations with everyone left, right and centre, Lucky Pierre and a children’s book with Cargo Publishers, ‘The Lavender Blue Dress. So. Much. We are excited.

http://www.aidanmoffat.co.uk/

KATHRYN JOSEPH!

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Prodigiously talented and criminally underrated; Kathryn is one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets. Her voice possesses the other-worldly quality comparable to Ms Newsom and Björk; but she is by no means of an ilk. With songs from new album ‘bones you have thrown me and blood I have spilled.’

Bruised and yet beautiful, down but not out, her wonderful, visceral songs knocked King Tut’s for six. She is the real thing.” **** (The Herald)

www.kathrynjoseph.co.uk

ANNELIESE MACKINTOSH!

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Author of highly acclaimed Any Other Mouth (Freight Books) and captivating live reader, Mackintosh returns to the R&B stage. We’re thrilled to see her again.

Winner of WINNER OF THE GREEN CARNATION PRIZE and listed in Books Of The Year 201 in The Herald, Favourite Books Of 2014 in The Scotsman, Top Scottish Books Of 2014 in The List,The Best Books Of 2014 in Civilian, Books Of The Year in The Cadaverine, The Best Fiction From 2014 in Scots Whay Hae! And Voted Top 10 inThe Readers’ 10 Best Books Of The Year So Far, The Guardian.

http://www.anneliesemackintosh.com/

MCGUIRE!

McGuire

McGuire’s first full collection “As I sit quietly, I begin to smell burning” is a wild mixture of poetry and short stories. In the spirit of verging on discovering catastrophe, the collection displays McGuire’s tendency toward the confessional, the social-realistic and absurd. Expect a live performance confronting Scottish cultural life, perversion, identity, masculinity and addiction.

http://a-glaswegian.blogspot.co.uk/

LIZ CRONIN!

LizCronin

Edinburgh-based songwriter and lyricist whose songs about love, life and sorrow are simultaneously heart-breaking and hilarious. An R&B favourite and for very good reason!

http://www.last.fm/music/Liz+Cronin

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With extra-special Rally & Broad based antics from yer resident hosts Jenny Lindsay & Rachel McCrum. xx

Six Questions For….. Jenny Lindsay & Rachel McCrum!

IRETHIN

Guid day! So, here at Rally & Broad HQ we got wind of a joint pamphlet launch from a couple of poetry/ wordy types. We like a guid pamphlet launch so we thought it worth conducting one ae our Six Questions interviews with the authors. We’ve never met them, but we’ve heard that they occasionally come to Rally & Broad, so we thought we’d check them out. Broad sat down with the Jenny Lindsay one, and Rally spoke to Rachel McCrum. We all got on pretty well, I must say, even though Jenny ate all the biscuits and Rachel tried to nick Rally’s lighter. Anyway – we’re going to head down to their launches at The Jazz Bar at 2.30pm on Sunday 11th (where they are joined by Christopher Willatt) and check em out at The Old Hairdresser’s in Glasgow on Thursday 16th at 7pm. Be nice tae see some of you guys there too – ours is a pint of chutzpah and a side order of cognitive dissonance. 😀

Broad to JL: Nice scarf, lass! I used to have one just like that! Anyway –  why ‘Ire & Salt’?

I spent ages swithering over this title! My pamphlet is essentially about personal and political power. Both of these entwine, both were fundamental themes of the Scottish independence debate (which is the back-drop to all the pieces in the pamphlet), and I’ve experienced both power and complete dis-empowerment both personally and politically in the last three years. A diagnosis of chronic depression and anxiety in June 2013, learning how to live with that and various ups and downs, being in a position of authority as an educator, having a platform, being an activist, amazing camaraderie, horrific break-ups… All have made the last 3 years pretty interesting and have made me revisit theories of power as part of understanding what I’ve just experienced.The Ire is the anger that powerlessness produces as well as the spark that can overcome it. The Salt is the tears of relief at retaining or regaining yer own agency after feeling dis-empowered.

It’s also a preserving agent. We’ve just experienced a pretty damn significant cultural and historical shift in Scottish politics. What is going to be preserved from that and who is going to preserve it? Who has power now and are we really as empowered as we could be, given the riff that Scotland has become empowered as a consequence of the vote? How many things continue to just happen at us and how many things can we shape? Political disempowerment and depressive illness share this one characteristic: both feel like they are happening at ye, and not something you can shape.

I mean, there’s also a fair bit ae word-play going on with that there title too, but I thought I should try to sound intelligent…

Rally to RM – Nice to meet ye! I got lost on the way here, sorry I’m late: I ended up in the wrong place. On the subject of place – Do Not Alight where Again? And why?

The long version…(or just skip to the end. There’s a much shorter answer after all this waffle).

Setting out this pamphlet has been a really odd process. Firstly, it feels somewhat overdue – the last one (my first one) was in 2012. C’mon, the poems aren’t even that long. But I honestly didn’t feel I’d done enough writing since Glassblower to have filled a pamphlet, or at least fill a coherent one, despite having had all these incredibly experiences with poetry trips to Greece and to South Africa – and not really having made time to write about any of them. If it hadn’t been for commissions and collaborations in the past two years, I’dve felt totally stulted. That’s not a word. Ah, it is now.

So, come January, I had all these half written poems hanging about and had convinced myself I was going to have to write a pamphlet’s worth of new ones in three months. On the verge of throwing everything up in the air for good in a suitably melodramatic fashion, I gave myself a bit of a shake, took the poems I did have, and found that they told a story, of sorts. So then I had a look back over the past two years, to try and understand where the story had come from…

It was the Scottish referendum. It was being in Scotland while it’s having what was (is?), let’s face it, a remarkably civilised debate about this huge question of future of the country, whilst being from Northern Ireland, which has not proven so capable of such a thing. Realising that because of this whole stupid hangover of Empire called the United Kingdom, being not so much an immigrant in another country, as, y’know, more of a blow in. But definitely not being Scottish. Despite all the invitations to engage in that process, despite the glorious and inspiring commitment to civic rather than ethnic nationalism that the referendum made, I honestly never felt more of an outsider than during that time. In practical terms, it meant it felt very odd to campaign and tell Scottish people how I thought they should vote. In personal terms, it meant I definitely wasn’t Scottish. How frightfully self absorbed.

Ouch. But, aye.

So that means I’m Northern Irish, right? And what the hell does that mean? I don’t live there. I don’t contribute anything to the culture or the economy or the society there anymore. Moreover, I’m of Northern Irish middle class Protestant heritage, one of the least sexy cultural heritages you could lay claim to, but it is mine, and how do you deal with that, flaws and faults and all? I still call it home. My family is there. There is a certain – character – that you could say is bred there.

There was also something quite specific for my generation, who came of age – I particularly mean the middle class lot who were finishing secondary school and heading out to university, but has also been true for any numbers of generations coming of age before ours – that Ireland was never seen as good enough. To make a life, a proper life in the world, you had to get out. The diaspora, all those ones wandering about.

Louis MacNeice writes how

‘I can say Ireland is hooey,

Ireland is a gallery of fake tapestries.

But I cannot deny my past to which my self is wed.

The woven figure cannot undo its thread.’

Which is all very romantic and maudlin. Don Paterson, with a more cynical robustness, talks about the ‘Irish boomerang – it doesn’t come back but sings you a song about how much it would like to.’

Putting the pamphlet together let me look at Northern Ireland, and find a way to love it (and I do – oh, you buggery stubborn country, I do, and I hope the book shows it) and leave it. For now, anyway.

There are over two years between the first and last poem in the book, and they move from asking you to listen to an accent and hear the story behind it, to making the accent vagrant, leave, move on. I’ll always love Northern Ireland, with a knot the size of a clenched fist in the pit of my stomach, but I’m done with spinning the guts out. I’d like to look outwards and forwards. I’d like to swallow the world.

The short and prosaic version…It’s a sign I first saw on disused railway platforms from a train winding up through the Highlands. Look at that language! It’s so politely firm and forbiddingly melancholy, all at the same time. Smashing.

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Broad to JL: We at R&B HQ ken well the battle between Poetry and Promoting. So: Poetry and Promoting get into a ring and have a fight. What wins, and why?

Jesus. Of late, promoting. But! I should say that’s by design. I love programming events. I find it brilliantly fulfilling to create or co-create an event that artists and an audience can enjoy in that moment. It’s empowering for everyone, if done well, and it is a creative outlet in its own right. Poetry’s always there though – jabbing its finger in mah back saying, ‘Oi! I’m the bloody reason you’re doing this remember, fool!’ And so poetry always wins cos it’s the catalyst for the promoting. I bloody love spoken word. I can’t imagine ever not wanting to run events and I can’t imagine ever not writing poetry or whatever the hell it is I write. In conclusion: they go two rounds and declare it a draw. On a personal level, one has rarely existed without the other. I’ve been running events for as long as I’ve been writing.

Rally to RM: I’m crap with a hammer and nails and am prone to watching DIY shelving units crash to the ground. But I like DIY platforms. Tell me more about this and how you make them sustainable?

I landed in Edinburgh in 2010, via Manchester, Belfast, New Zealand, Oxford and basically a lot of dithering about in my 20s. I mean, I had a briefcase at one point – it was quite official looking dithering – but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I landed in Edinburgh – ostensibly, the reason I’d moved up was for a PhD but I wasn’t too hot at that either. However, I had a wonderful Italian anthropologist for a supervisor who knew I wasn’t very happy, and told me to go forth and find my people – find my community – as this would help me understand the PhD better. I found the Forest Cafe.

The Forest Cafe, unlike anything else I knew, says ‘yes’ to everything and then works out how to make it happen afterwards. Without Forest, I would never have fallen in love with building platforms and stages, with seeing how empowering that can be for folk, and how much strength a like minded community can give one another. It was a whole DIY punk world that I’d never been part of before. I loved it then, I love it now. Some of the very best of people. With Forest came Inky Fingers, then Blind Poetics, then that thing that we’re trying not to mention here, and now, looking forward to summer 2015, SHIFT/…new solo shows from Scotland based spoken word artists for the Fringe.

But I also think there’s something really special about Scotland, about Edinburgh, in particular.

The way the DIY world supports one another – not just within poetry but with music as well – the sense of community, the space to try things out and suceed or fail, to pick yourself, to keep going, to collaborate. And the way the larger institutions – the Scottish Poetry Library, the Scottish Book Trust, the Libraries, the Book Festival, the City of Literature, even the University – connect with the grassroots scene, are aware of and support it – and vice versa. Maybe it’s a scale thing – we all drink in the same pubs – but maybe something more.

Ways to make DIY platforms sustainable? For my tuppence worth…

  1. Find a collaborator, a comrade, a partner in crime. Find a partner in crime with whom you can laugh, cry, drink and work. Who will support, share, provoke, energise you. Who you will always love to bits, and could kill half the time. Who will have your back and kick your arse all at once. Who has similar approaches to work and to appetite, to afternoons in cocktail bars and staggering to the late night chippie, to the occasions when to tell you that you look amazing in that dress and that that new poem is the best thing that has ever been written (and recognises when the time is to tell you that both could probably do with some more work). To mutally acknowledging the need, occasionally, to throw it all up in the air, have a nap, and start all over again. No, you can’t have mine. Yes, I know she’s pretty special. Get yer own.
  1. Find your community. The one you respect. The one that you’d push past exhaustion for. Learn from it. Don’t get so excited about the thing you’re doing that you forget to look around you and support the things that other people are doing. Don’t compete. Don’t self promote at the expense of others. Don’t bitch about one another. Find the thing you do, find the thing they do. Support one another. Hold each other up. Applaud one another. When you start playing, performing to more than yourselves – and you will – they’ll still be there. Still be there.
  1. Learn how to work with the professional world, the institutions. They are not the bad guys. They are there to help, and they’ll have expertise, experience and perspective to learn from, and opportunities beyond what you can achieve on your own. They’ve probably got public funding, and that means they’re reaching out to wider audiences than you could ever do on your own. That’s a good thing. Public funding for the arts is a Very Good Thing. And you are probably more nimble, closer to new audiences than they are, quicker to react and to act. You can help each other.
  1. Say yes to everything. Then understand where your energy levels are, and when to say no. Don’t burn out. Take care of yourself. Do the things that you believe have integrity. But where you can, take a leap out, say yes.

Broad to JL: What is the best gig, ever, that you’ve been involved with, and why?

Well, there is this one thing I’m involved in that is hands-down the best creative partnership I’ve ever been involved in and also contains my favourite ever events I’ve ever been part of, but I think we’re trying not to talk about that, right? He he! So: here’s another top 2!

Firstly, in 2006 the Scottish Slam Team went down to Bristol’s Old Vic Theatre to take part in the Three Nations Slam Championships. It was me, Bram Gieben, Graeme Hawley and Milton Balgonie. We won the national title and in the individual scores I came first, Bram came second, Graeme came third and Milton came fourth. We were the complete outsiders and no-one had ever heard of any of us. It was bloody brilliant.

The second has to be the National Collective Edinburgh Sessions from Jan – Jun 2014 that were organised by a small team and led by Cameron Foster and I. They were a great mix of art and politics, debate and discussion and they were informative as well as entertaining. It’s not often ye’ll get a debate on forestry alongside a spoken word artist alongside a theatre-maker alongside a discussion about fiscal policy. They were great motivation and built up a lovely network of friends and campaigners.

For balance: the worst was being heckled by an elderly lady at Stanza in 2011 who shouted out that my language was “appalling, dear!” It practically started a riot as the aforementioned Balgonie shouted “Nae censorship at Stanza!” and thus a short interlude of back-and-forth ensued with various members of the audience chiming in. It was the first time I had performed an hour-long show. Ever-so-slightly off-putting.

There’s plenty of quality profanity in a couple of the pieces in Ire & Salt though, so I look forward to a repeat of this in August…

Rally to RM: Oi! That’s my lighter! Harrumph. Anyway –  home and identity are a big part of what you write about. So: weighty question –

Where do you consider home?

Where I can lay down my hat. Where there’s a pot of Earl Grey. Where I can find a shoulder to rest my head on. Where someone will tell me their story. Where I can work as part of something bigger than myself. Where I can feel of use.

And that concludes our interview! Come hear and see these two and buy their pamphlets too. That Jenny likes a lot of biscuits and lighters don’t come cheap… 😀