Archive | October, 2010

Simultaneous Blogging Experiment becomes international

31 Oct

Some of you may well remember the last simultaneous blogging experiment I undertook – no?  Well, it went like this.  Get fourteen poets who also have blogs, give them a theme to respond on in any way they chose, then ask them to all post simultaneously and linking to each other.  The result?  It’s practically a digital magazine, although no editing at all has taken place other than what the poet themselves wished to do.

So, at the end of November it’s going to happen again, and this time it will be international.  There will be twelve poets, I’ve been asked already if there is a religious symbolism to this and I am afraid the answer is no.  It’s is very unpoetically just a more practical number.  However, there group is divided in two, with one half being English speaking poets and the other half Spanish speaking poets.  All the bloggers are aloud to use any regional variation of the language in which they write, or any dialect that they chose, and they only have to accompany their work with a translation if they wish.

Everyone will be posting on the same day 27th November, and at the same time 12.00 BST.

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Exploding Edinburgh

26 Oct

Edinburgh is exploding at the moment.  It appears that not a week goes by without at least two or three poetry or literary events to attend.  There are four regular monthly readings nights which I know of, several writers groups and evening courses, one literary salon and what almost feels like a constant range of book, pamphlet and magazine launches, not to mention various festivals.  Who can tell what will emerge from all this activity.

One thing that has emerged recently, is another, hopefully soon-to-be regular poetry night is TraVerses.  What makes TraVerses, held at the Traverse Theater Bar/Cafe on Lothian Road, different is the fact that it specialises in poetry in collaboration.  The collaboration could be as simple as poetry in several voice, or people from different disciplines coming together to create a work of poetry.  I have written before on how interesting I find collaborative pieces, as when they work well the result is always greater than the sum of its parts.

The night also introduced me to several new poets who I had never seen before.  The first was JoAnne McKay who grew up in Romford, but now lives in Scotland.  Her poetry was mainly narrative, but also honest, funny, sad and compelling – in other words, realistic.  No magical realism here, JoAnne gives you life as it is lived in all it’s shame and glory.  Second was Simon Jackson, who again I had not seen before and amazed me with some technical looping thingy he did with musical instruments, to provide a background to his comic poems.  Colin Donati then performed some of his own, and some others poetry set to music.  It was all poignant and lovely and well performed, apart from the bit where I mistakenly heard him singing that we all needed Morissey, which it turns out isn’t true, and what we actually need is mercy.  Who’d have thought.

Elspeth Murray and Richard Medrington did not disappoint, but watching them I get the feeling they rarely do.  Their double act is given more spark by the cute role play they undertake on stage with Richard as the straight man asking Elspeth questions “Now, why Elspeth, do we perform this poem this way”  and Elspeth playing the slightly flustered and comic wife “Well, it’s because we ah, practice the poem in bed, and, I lie on this side and him on that, and so we have to perform it this way round, or, it doesn’t work” she answers dazzling most of the audience with 1000 watt smile.

The last collaboration was Labyrinth of Wings.  I must say that I rarely relish hearing the phrase “people may want to move about in the space in front of you”  and this was no exception.  It really wasn’t my cup of tea.  There were two musicians, working their music on laptops at the back dressed in boiler suits and masks, three dancers, in masks, leather skirts, skin tight leotards, bra tops, fishnets and with body pain smeared on their skin, one puppeteer who made masks throughout the performance and sellotaped them to the poets head.  I found it derivative and the set up of the group with men all playing the important or technical parts and the women scantily glad and dancing, therefore being reduced to voiceless objects, just a recreation of the sexism that has been rife in mainstream music for decades. I am more than fully aware that this is many people’s cup of tea, and that these performers really were trying to stretch boundaries and explore what poetry and performance are.  The sad thing about it, for me, was that much of the poetry was swamped and washed away by the spectacle of the performance, before it could be properly heard or digested by the audience.

I’m really excited to see what will be on at the next TraVerses on the 13 December.  It’s organiser Jennifer Williams will be looking for funding and hoping to extend the series into next year if they are successful, so please come along if you can.

Attention all bloggers

21 Oct

Still being a bit of a baby when it comes to social media I have only just found out about Scottish Roundup.  The Scottish Roundup aims to give Scottish bloggers a platform and to showcase the best of Scottish blogging every week.  Like its cousin The British Blog Roundup they want to show readers the diversity of blogs out there in Scotland.

They have mainly tended so far to get nominations for political posts, and I think given how active the Scottish poetry community is on the internet we should start nominating each other.  Oh, and shhhhhh, you can nominate yourself.  It’s not bad or wrong, but I expect they won’t like it if you do it for every post, just your really good ones, and I know you have it in you.

New writers group

20 Oct

I had only just got back from Berlin, when I found an email from Chelsea Cargill who not only has the good taste to joint the universally ignored Rejection Club but has also founded one of the best sounding writers groups I have come across in a long time.

The genius behind the idea is that sometimes you need the peer pressure of other writers to help you up your game, but you don’t necessarily want to have to go through all that “networking” malarkey, which can be intimidating and time consuming.  The Antisocial Writers Club aims to help.  They meet at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny St, Leith every Wednesday at 2pm in the cafe.  And what do they do?  They write, and generally ignore each other, although I expect the odd cursory nod might be tossed about occasionally, it’s all about companionable silence.  Brilliant.

In other news I am currently planning the next simultaneous blogging project which will be accomplished by a mix of English language and Spanish language poets.  Keep watching the blog for more information.

The Song of Lunch

9 Oct

So I wasn’t going to post again until I was back from holiday, but I just had to.  Last night I watched The Song of Lunch on BBC2, and it was brilliant.  The Song is a long poem which takes place over a lunch between two old lovers, reunited fifteen years after the end of their relationship.  The poem, by Christopher Reid is expertly crafted and the acting by Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman is outstanding.  After almost ten years of reality TV, which has resulted in me watching less and less television, it is a joy to find such piercing, emotional and understated drama being shown.  It’s even better that it was a poem.

My regret at not attending Hidden Door

5 Oct

Regrets?  I’ve got quite a lot, and one of them is that I won’t be able to get down to the next Hidden Door Festival.  Regular readers of my blog will remember I had a smashing time at the first Hidden Door, which left me raring to go again.  Unfortunately this year I have family commitments which take me away.  I am even more regretful as it also means I shall be missing the premier of Alastair Cook’s film of my poem -ed.  I always forget to tell people this poem has also been translated into Spanish, if anyone wants the link, let me know.

So I’m hoping that all my lovely readers in and around Edinburgh will go, and enjoy the poetry, music, art and much more, and also watch Alastair’s film and let me know what you think.

This is the last you’ll here from me for a few weeks, as I’m off to Berlin, and then Wales.  Don’t miss me too much!

Film Poem

1 Oct

I am a very excited and happy woman today!  A while ago Mr Alastair Cook invited me round to his for a delicious lunch and to record some poems.  His film of my poem -ed can be viewed here.  More of Alastair’s film poems can be viewed here.

The film will also be being shown as part of the Hidden Door Festival in October