Interviews

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.

DoNotAlightHere

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… 😀

 

Six Questions for…The 2015 Scottish Slam Champ BRAM E. GIEBEN!

In February 2015, Bram E Gieben competed against fifteen of Scotland’s best slam poets to win the title. He’ll go on to represent Scotland in the Slam Worlds in Paris in June. Rally & Broad were both in the audience that night, and it was an incredible performance, equal parts power, control and fire. We’re delighted that he’ll be appearing at Rally & Broad on Friday 20th March for ‘Dance While The Sky Crashes Down’ with RM Hubbert, Alan Bissett, Lynsey May and Elyssa Vulpes. In the meantime, a few queries about what makes him tick tick tick…

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  1. So…how does it make you feel?

    It honestly feels incredible, for a number of reasons. I’ve always seen myself as something of an outsider on the slam, hip-hop and poetry scenes – too hip-hop for the poetry crowd, too poetry for the hip-hop crowd, and too hard to place for a lot of slam judges and fans. To win, especially against a huge field of very talented poets, has definitely made me feel that I’ve been working towards this eventual goal, and that it hasn’t all been in vain. I was ready to quit slam after this year, just to make space, I guess, for new voices… but this has given me an extra boost to keep going. What I hope, more than anything, is that my win gives hope to people whose poetry is a little weirder, edgier and more combative that they too can win slams and acclaim for their performances if they work hard enough… and that it’s not always deeply personal, emotionally-wrought poems and poets who win; that polemic and rhetoric and satire and wordplay all have their place, if delivered with passion and a little bit of stagecraft.

  2. You’ve been doing spoken word in Scotland for a while. What are your thoughts on the scene over the past number of years? And how is it looking to you now?

    I think in may ways the scene is healthier than it’s ever been – people like Loud Poets have popularised it for a new generation of people, and the level of talent coming up through the ranks is inspiring. Someone like Sam Small, who I’ve collaborated with in the past, have pushed spoken word out to new audiences who had never encountered it beofre. There’s a progression – a talented poet can go from packed clubs and bars doing open spots or features, to paid gigs at showcases like Rally & Broad and Neu! Reekie! I have benefitted from that progression a great deal, and I think in general, spoken word has much more mainstream recognition than it did when I started 10 years ago. If I was going to be negative for a second, I might express some concerns that a generic, slam-influenced style and solipsistic subject matter have become more prevalent – I think it is still very hard to get noticed or applauded in the same way if your work is transgressive or experimental, and I also think this is a factor in the feeling that some artists have that work which deals with gender, sexuality or race in a confrontational way can sometimes be passed oveer or marginalised. I might also lament the fact that although the performance scene is driving interest in poetry, it is still page poets who get most of the press – as if one has to ‘graduate’ to the page from the ‘sophomoric’ spoken word scene. But these are minor quibbles, and quibbles that existed in some form 10 years ago, so I don’t let it bother me much. The fact is, the scene continues to grow and evolve with little outside interest or interference, and probably, this is a good thing. I’d like to see more Scottish poets travelling to perform, I’d like to see more recognition for Scottish poets from English tournaments, organisers and events. But the fact is if any of that is going to happen, we have to make it happen ourselves. Thus has it ever been!

  3. Poet, performer, rapper, musician, novelist, journalist, record producer, ex-Chemikal Poet, Post-cyberpunk miserablist and crime junkie…you have an insane number of strings to your bow. How do they relate to one another? And do any of them play more loudly than others, for you?

    I’ve long struggled to separate music, spoken word, performance and storytelling. I think the confusion about ‘what I do’ stems from that. With my new stage show, I am combining all of these disciplines and approaches – something which synthesises them all in a theatrical way is what I am working towards. Journalism was fun for a while but wasn’t very renumerative – like many of the strings in my bow, coins don’t tend to rain from the sky when I pluck them. But I am still writing the odd piece for places like The Quietus, and I still write fiction for publication as well as performance. In my experience, self-taught artists like myself, in this day and age, are usually multi-platform artists. It’s a function of the accessibility of the means of production, promotion and visualisation which are part and parcel of our bold new creative era. The one thing left for me to figure out is what I, as an artist, can do which will be a financially rewarding pursuit as well as a creatively fulfilling one. I;m working on that…

  4. How important are Slams?

    I think slams are vital for a number of reasons – first and foremost, they still draw a big crowd, and for an event organiser, the slams tend to help pay for the shows, which will be quieter but more expensive to mount. Secondly, they make you raise your game, by comparing yourself to other poets, and learning from their technique. Thirdly, they provide a calendar or focus for a calendar of spoken word events in a city or region. This gives the scene a chance to renew itself every few years. The only way in which they are damaging, I think, is in terms of what they do to some poets’ egos. It’s worth remembering that the opinion of a judge – no matter how qualified – is just that, an opinion, and that there is a degree of arbitrariness in every slam contest. Finally, I’d say that the need for more regulatuon of which slams qualify a poet for the nationals, how that qualification works, and standardisation of rules for slams is looking increasingly necessary, just to avoid squabbles over fairness. I can see a two-tier ‘pro’ and ‘semi-pro’ slam circuit arising in years to come, and I think that raises as many problems as it solves…

  5. What are you bringing to Paris with you in June?*

    I’ll be bringing some old favourites like BURN and KEEP GOING. I am a bit worried about finding a French person who can translate words like ‘phenotype’ and ‘polycyclical’ in plenty of time… I’m optimistic, as they like a bit of controversial politics and science fiction, the French.

  6. Finally, looking to ‘Dance While The Sky Crashes Down’ at Rally & Broad in March…how will the world end?

    I’m on record as being a great believer in ecophagy, or Earth-death. I strongly believe we are among the last generations of humans to walk the planet. I think the world will not end, but rather carry on without us, or with a considerably diminished human presence. The great die-off seems inevitable to me. There are a few technological scenarios I could see ending capitalism, dispensing with profit-driven economic models and leading to a kind of population plateau, which might resemble a post-singularity technocratic utopia, where humans get to mine the asteroid belt, explore the stars and spread the human virus beyond the Sol system. But my strong gut instinct tells me that billions upon billions of us will die before those technological high water-marks are reached. 

    In the resulting chaos, I think it’s unlikely that the values we prize as ‘civilised’ will be seen as important by those with the traits to survive. My prediction for the next few decades is an abrupt slide into fascist totalitarianism for what is now known as the ‘West’ and a continuing descent into medieval barbarism elsewhere in the world, with the surviving population hotspots tending to favour dictatorships like Russia rather than quote-unquote ‘democracies’ such as we inhabit. The erosion of liberal values in favour of ruthless self-preservation is already perfectly visible in the rise of UKIP and the Conservatives in the past decade. But the true horror won’t start until the temperature rises a few degrees – then you’ll see democratic and liberal values thrown out in favour of the genocide and murder of climate change refugees. Religion is due for a big revival – people will reject utopianism and myths of progress in favour of the simplistic ‘eye for an eye’ fables of dead eras.

    Teach your children to hunt, fish and grow vegetables. Teach them to kill without hesitation in self-defence. Teach them to ride horses. Teach them not to put their faith in machines or live their lives through the proxies of social media. All very easily said, of course. Harder to do. Me? I plan to hole up in a tower block with a bicycle-powered dynamo, a DVD player and a box-set of Adventure Time. That or join some sort of post-apocalyptic biker gang….

http://www.bramegieben.co.uk/

Six Questions For… Kevin Gilday!

kevin gilday

Kevin Gilday is the featured spoken word act at Rally & Broad: The Apology Shop! (Glasgow) at Stereo, 2.30pm, Sunday 25th Jan. He is also one of the Loud Poets team who launch in Glasgow at The Old Hairdresser’s on Thurs 5th Feb. Tickets for The Apology Shop available here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rally-broad-the-apology-shop-glasgow-tickets-15141804545

1: You’re a Man Who Loves Beer. Tell us more.

Well I love beer, maybe a wee bit too much sometimes, so I decided to write a show about it. It’s part spoken word, part drunken monologue about nights out, sexual misadventures, casual addiction, crippling hangovers – all the good stuff really. It ran for three weeks at the fringe and is now touring all over the place, including a week of shows at the Toronto fringe in July. (Cheap plug!) The next performance will be at The Old Hairdressers on 19th Jan (with the lovely Agnes Török).

2: Slams, 10 – 20 minute sets, one man shows. What do you get out of each of these types of performance?

I’ve taken to thinking about this in terms of music/bands… Doing a full solo show is definitely the most gratifying format – like doing a full album with all the singles, album tracks and weird stuff that all comes together as a cohesive whole – you get to tell a story without skipping the interesting bits in between. Doing a guest slot is like doing a festival set – you’ve only got a limited amount of time so batter out the greatest hits and hope someone enjoys it enough to look you up afterwards. And slams are like being on (dated cultural reference alert!) Top of the Pops, or whatever the modern equivalent is, you might only get to perform one piece so you better make it a good one.

3: You’ve been gigging pretty steadily for quite some time. What drew you into the spoken word scene?

I think there’s an independence of spirit to the spoken word scene that’s really attractive to me. Everything is pretty much DIY – folk just deciding to run a night, or put on a slam, or start printing pamphlets – there are no established rules yet so we’re all just making it up as we go along. The other aspect is being self-reliant. For ages I was in bands – writing, rehearsing, playing gigs – and as anyone who has ever been in a band will tell you, it’s a massive hassle trying to co-ordinate four or five people. But with spoken word it’s easy, I don’t need to rely on anyone else, I don’t need to lug about any heavy equipment – I can basically perform anywhere at anytime – and that kind of freedom is incredibly liberating.

4: The life of a performing poet can be a mixed bag. Best gig/ worst gig: spill!

In terms of the size of the crowd and the emotions involved, I think performing at the Yes rally the day before the referendum was probably the best gig I’ve ever experienced. I only performed one piece (and had to take out the swearing!) but it was an incredible experience – a feedback loop of pure optimism. I’ll never forget the feeling I had afterwards.

I’ve done a few rotten gigs in my time but I think the worst(/funniest) was during my fringe run a couple of years ago. I had a late night slot in a venue without a door (bad start), had to chuck some guy out for signing Partick Thistle songs, engage another audience member in a debate about the merits of Ikea, started a fight with some loud gentlemen outside and half the audience left in despair. Ended the night crying into my pint.

5: The Scottish spoken word scene was recently described by The List as being “in rude health.” Do you agree? (and feel free to elaborate!!)

I do. I’ve only been involved in spoken word for a few years and even in that short time I’ve seen things develop. I think the main pillar of progression has been variety. There’s an incredible strength in depth to the scene right now, you can go along to any open mic and see people perform slam style, hip hop influenced, comedic, traditional, scots and any other kind of poetry you can think of. We now have genres within our niche little movement and that’s something that’ll allow the scene to expand into different strands as we become more recognised.

6: Finally, the theme of this month’s Rally & Broad is ‘The Apology Shop.’ How will you be interpreting that, if at all, in your set?

I’m still working on a way to tenuously link my set but I’ll certainly be apologising in advance for my language!

***

 More about Kevin: Kevin is the winner of the StAnza Digital Slam, the Creative Stirling Slam and a two time Scottish National Slam finalist. He is the presenter of Rhyming Optional, Subcity Radio’s dedicated Spoken Word show, and has performed all over the country including the Edinburgh Fringe and Glastonbury Festival. He will be taking his critically acclaimed show The Man Who Loved Beer for a run of shows at the Toronto Fringe in 2015.

Six Questions for…Francesca Beard!

Francesca Beard will be the headline poet at Rally & Broad ‘The Apology Shop’ on Friday 23rd January at The Bongo Club, Edinburgh (£5 on door or advance tickets!). We thought we’d ask her a few questions to break the ice. We got some of favourite answers yet…

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1. All hail the Queen of British Performane Poetry*! Why performance poetry, for you?

I was writing very emo, obscure page poems and having fantasies I’d be like Emily Dickinson. After my death, someone would find my poems in a drawer and declare me a genius.

Then I sent some of these emo, obscure poems to a literary magazine and they got rejected.

I had read a Paul Celan poem which likened writing a poem to sending off a message in a bottle and this had seemed very beautiful at the time but then I remembered Paul Celan committed suicide.

And I thought, ‘Well, f*ck this for a game of soldiers.’

So I went to an open mic night and read those emo poems. It was then I realised they were rubbish.

I was so grateful not to have wasted my life, sadly writing rubbish emo poetry, that I decided then and there to devote it to spoken word.

 

2. What, for you, is important in a good performance poem?

An element of improvisation, of liveness. Of being a voice amongst other voices. The quality of coming from a place of listening, of being one of the stories in the room that wants to be told.

 

3. Do you think performance poetry has changed in the years since you started?

I have clearly evolutionised performance poetry by starting to be part of it and find it implausible to talk about, outside of myself. Did it exist? Did anything exist?

 

4. Where is the best place that poetry has taken you?

A Colombian prison?  Rally and Broad? My own human heart?!

 

5. Where is the worst place that poetry has taken you?

See above.

 

6. And finally…what would be in your Apology Shop**?

Words collapsed in on themselves, a cage barred large as the world, strange matter made into a song, a stained but clean glass blanket of folded up space-time.

Also, over-priced orbit chewing gum and a lack of advertised as discounted kettle chips.

*the Metro

**the theme for Rally & Broad in January is ‘The Apology Shop’ – see the website for more details!

So…you want to come and see her in action, aye??

Ours is a sniff of remorselessness and a hatchet job of life. See ye at the front!

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xx

Six Questions for…Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson!

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Paula Varjack and Dan Simpson are the masterminds behind poetry gameshow Never Mind The Fullstops, as well as being poets and performers in their own right. Ahead of their takeover of Rally & Broad on Friday 19th December (The Bongo Club, Edinburgh. 7pm, £7/£5), we asked them a few questions about what to expect…

1. ‘Never Mind The Fullstops’ – whatnow?

Dan: NMTFS is a pop-meets-poetry panel show mash-up.

Paula: We get brilliant poets and performers to play silly games like Poetry Karaoke (singing poems to the tunes of pop songs)…

Dan: … and explore the efforts of celebrities writing poems.

Paula: We’ve seen a lot of James Franco, Britney Spears, Charlie Sheen & Beyonce, to give you an idea!

 

2. How did all this come about?

Dan: Paula and I have been running The Anti-Slam for a few years now, and love making shows that lovingly ridicule poetry.

Paula: I suggested a panel show-style format…

Dan: … which weirdly was something I had been thinking about for a few years too.

Paula: Then we devised some games and tried it out…

Dan: … and the acts and audiences enjoyed it!

Paula: And the best thing is that it is so much fun to play, having an audience there is like a bonus. It’s the only show I’ve ever done that I would happily play with friends in a living room, although maybe for that there’s slightly too much setting up.

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3. And tell us a bit more about yourselves…

Dan: I’m mostly a spoken word poet who likes to put poetry out into the world in interesting ways and to new audiences. This often ends up happening in a comedic way – making people laugh is one of the best and most awesome things to do.

Paula: I’m an artist who is *unfaithful* to any one discipline 🙂 I like working in theatre and film, which sometimes involves spoken word and music. I take myself too seriously at times, so like picking apart all the forms i work with, mashing them up.

 

4. What do you really not mind?

Dan: I really don’t mind the admin side of being a freelance poet type person – I love me a spreadsheet!

Paula: I don’t mind all the socialising, I feed off of interacting with our audience. I could do with less admin but I can never get enough of making lists.

 

5. What is something that you really, really do mind, actually, thank you very much?

Dan: I mind that wealth inequality between the super-rich, rich and poor is huge and increasing, and that it’s getting harder and harder for us and the next generation to have genuine security.

Paula: I mind that any talk of inequality and difference can file your work into “issue based”. Talking about your experience is self expression of that experience, end of.

 

6. Edinburgh at Christmastime. Will you be iceskating?

Dan: So excited to be in Edinburgh at Christmastime (and not there just for the Fringe for a change!). If it’s cold I’m sure there’ll be some impromptu, whisky-fuelled ice skating and skidding down Niddry Street!

Paula: I am really really really bad at ice skating. Its not just a danger to myself but anyone around me on the rink.

 

See ye on the 19th!

Six Questions for….Loud Poets!

Loud Poets will be featuring at Rally & Broad ‘The Eureka Moment!’ on Friday 21st November, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh. Doors at 7pm, show at 730pm. Tickets £5, on the door.

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To get you acquainted with them and their mission, we thought we’d ask them some questions…

1.Why Loud? Why Poets?

“LOUD” – The word ‘poetry’ brings up certain connotations in peoples’ heads. These include (but are not limited to) cardigans, moustaches, monotone drones, sappy feelings, and boring, long-worded descriptions of meadows. So we thought “Loud” got across the message that our shows might not be what you’d expect.

“POETS” – For those of us who see a lot of spoken word, we know this isn’t (usually) the case and we didn’t want to deny the fact that we are poets/we love poetry/poetry is awesome.

Besides, “Loud Bananas” would just be misleading.

2. How Legion are you?

“Loud Poets” is a monthly night aiming to make poetry more accessible and exciting to the general public. Any acts that get booked for our nights are, therefore, Loud Poets. There is also around 15 or so poets who regularly write/perform with us, help organise the events and plan for future adventures, but when we are booked to perform as “Loud Poets”, it will usually be some combination of Kevin Mclean, Agnes Torok, Doug ‘Dark Horse’ Garry and MiKo Berry.

3. What’s the plan?

Right now, we’re working on a new 4 piece poem and a UK tour. More immediately, I plan to have a beer and a pretzel.

4. Where’s the best place poetry has taken you?

Well, in June this year, it took MiKo to Paris to compete in the World Slam Championships (he only came 4th. He’s a big disappointment to us all), and he also slammed at the Royal Albert Hall. Kev, MiKo and Ages all performed at Wickerman Festival in July and doing our Fringe run was amazing.

On a more soppy note, Poetry has taken us all to a better place than we were before it, filled with new passions, great friends and lots of excuses to go the pub. This place right here?.. It’s pretty cool!

(Note: No one knows where poetry has taken Doug…. *whispers* dark horse!)

5. Where’s the worst place poetry has taken you?

You do some pretty odd gigs as a poet. Between us we’ve done bingo halls, heavy metal concerts and judging slams where only one person signed up.

6. Tell us your Eureka! Moments…

Poetry is like music – there are many different genres but so many people out there only know the kind of poetry they get force fed at school. We try to do something different.

http://www.loudpoets.com


									

Six Questions for… Inua Ellams!

Inua Ellams will be performing at Rally & Broad ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again‘ on Friday 17th October 2014, at The Bongo Club, Edinburgh, alongside Anneliese Mackintosh, Hailey Beavis, Toby Campion, The Banter Thiefs, and hosts/spraffers extraordinare Jenny Lindsay & Rachel McCrum. Doors at 730pm, tickets £5.

 

Inua3

 

Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright and performer. He has published two poetry pamphlets: ‘Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars’ and ‘Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales’. His first play ‘The 14th Tale’ (a one-man show which he performed) was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his third, ‘Black T-Shirt Collection’ ran at England’s National Theatre.

 

  1. Your Twitter profile describes you as ‘Poet, Playwright, Performer, Graphic Artist and Designer, Occasional Illustrator, Poor Basketballer, Hates Fish, Geek, Founder of @TheMidnighRun // Nigerian. How do you reconcile all these things on a daily basis?

1) When I was younger, I could do so, I could flip between things quite easily on a daily basis. I took multitasking to a whole new level. These days, I’m an older man, and my grey matter is greying and it feels like I can’t flip as easily as I did before. But y’know, I still manage it. I schedule like it’s going out of fashion. I have a multitude of apps which I do different kinds of work on, and a management app called Things where I type everything that I’m working on and it just reminds me what to do. That’s how I keep track of deadlines and all that jazz.

Artistically, they do work together in various ways. I write poetry from the same conceptual place that I create graphic design work from. All of my plays are failed poems, which is to say, all my ides arrive as attempts at poetry, and when I can’t write the poem or the poem is larger than my voice, or the span of a poem is better served by a multitude of voices, it becomes a play.

The Midnight Run is a project I started in 2005 where I gather complete strangers and we play through the streets of a city from 6pm to 6am, and in its duration, we engage with various artistic endeavours and tasks. That has come from my background as an immigrant and as a nomad, so that’s part of who I am – it’s in my blood.

  1. Where do you call home? And why?

Probably my MacBook Pro. Her name is Meredith and she has served me well. Again because I’m an immigrant, I don’t really believe in geographic locations or confines. I believe in the relationships that exist between me and people in my life. Those are cerebral relationships but there is no reason why those are not as real as the physical world. I sink into memories, and have friends who I don’t see for months, years at a time but we’ll pick up conversations as if we had had them minutes before. Those are bubbles that I think of as home.

With regards to my computer, this is who I am when the lights are off and my fingers are poised over the keyboard. I feel as if I’m plugged into the very heart of humanity, especially when I’m connected to the internet and it’s a cycle of knowledge and inspiration, and knowledge and inspiration and words. I call my laptop home – perhaps that’s kind of sad?

  1. What are your current Top 5 poems/poetry performances?

Poetry? That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child. I don’t have children but you know what I mean. I can’t do so. Performance wise, I can give you two definite ones answers.

One, was when I was performing The Fourteenth Tale at the National Theatre in London. I felt connected with the audience. The acoustics in The Cottesloe Theatre where I was performing was amazing. I could hear the audience breathing with me and I felt like I could do no wrong, and the audience who could do no wrong. It felt… right, like we were plugged into each other, into the heart of storytelling and poetry and everything was alive and kicking. That’s what I mean by ‘do no wrong’, we were in the present, and anything that could have happened in that ‘present’ would have been meant to happen. It was just great.

Poetry wise, a few years back in London, I was at some warehouse poetry reading thing and I read an old love poem called ‘Alice in NeverLoverLand’ which was from my first book of poems. It had been out for so long that I thought, I’m just never going to bother reading this poem again, this is the last time. When I finished reading, I was surrounded by three women, a grandmother, a mother and her daughter, and both of them were hugging me, crying, kissing me on my cheeks. When I asked what was happening, What was up? What’s with the kissing and stuff?  The mother explained that the daughter had recently gone through a ridiculously, destructive relationship and she had given up searching for love. The poem that I read had given her hope. It had shown her that there are other people going through such similar things and that it was natural. You just have to pick yourself up, and try again. After that, I stopped underestimating the power of a single, lone poem, because you don’t know who you’re reading to. You don’t know where they’ve come from, where they meet you in the middle, in the transaction of the poetry reading and the digestion of a poem.

  1. Can you tell us a little more about the Barbershop Chronicles?

So, I’m working on that as we speak! Barbershop Chronicles is a play which is set in barbershops across the world. It began as a poetry project – I wanted to be a resident poet in a barbershop, to listen to conversations, to see who I meet, write monologues and descriptive passages, poetic prose, about what I see, and the conversations that flow. But I didn’t get the funding to do the project but the idea stayed with and haunted me. So, a year later, I spoke with Fuel, my theatre collaborators here in London and I said ‘I have this idea for a cool project to write a play based on conversations I take from a barbershop’. A few months after we had a month of R&D, hanging around barbershops in London and Leeds. Thinking the project could be bigger, I visited barbershops in Africa.

I travelled through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana and hung around barbers and their clients over the Christmas period last year. I went to South Africa the week that Nelson Mandela died, which was crazy. I transcribe the best conversations and attempted to form a narrative with the themes and subject matters are links; to present something commenting on contemporary Africa. I wrote the first draft at the start of the year, and I’m currently writing the second third. Hopefully it will give a sense of what contemporary African masculinity is like, and the various challenges, shapes and forms it takes.

  1. Where is the worst place that poetry has taken you?

Oh, I remember this like nothing else! It was Glastonbury music festival, 2006 – and I haven’t been to Glastonbury since. It was a horrific period, this was what drove me into working in theatre.  I set up my tent, went to sleep and work up with my feet underwater, shower gel leaked into my contact lenses somehow and I put them on imagining I could blink away the soap, I went through echelons of pain. There was a storm that evening, wind whipping the tent in which I was performing, people who had been slithering in mud came tumbling in, diving through the tent. There were folks more interested in each other’s mouths or pelvises than what I was saying… I felt like the last poet on earth attempting to read poems to an Armageddon of an audience. It also coincided with the first of my midlife crises. (I’ve had several). I refused to work in poetry, decided to work in theatre where I could control everything, all elements of the within the space… But I couldn’t stay away. I returned to poetry. It is the mother of art-forms, it is the holiest and cheapest way to be free.

  1. Where is the best place that poetry has taken you?

Probably the edge of the continent of Australia. The closest landmass to where I was stood was on another continent! There was no land left to run, and the view was incredible. It was beautiful, the sun was beating down. It was liminal. There was vegetation right before the beach which rolled into the ocean. So many parts of the physical world contrasted, contracted, existed in that same place. And also, the imaginative and the cerebral worlds in my head came together, narratives of myself as an immigrant, of the questioning of searching for home, of running. This happened in 2012, just when I had won the right to live and work in the United Kingdom and there’s a whole history attached to that. That’s the best place poetry has taken me to, to the edge of the world, and it brought me back.

For more on Inua, see here: http://www.inuaellams.com

and

find him on Twitter here: @inuaellams

AND

COME + SEE HIM AT RALLY & BROAD ON OCTOBER 17th!

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Ours is a mouthful of sea water.

xx