Slam

BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam

I love the fact that DorkyDad is a poet. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him perform – in venues ranging from libraries to Jazz bars – and I always come away feeling proud and happy.

Except when he’s doing a slam. I hate watching him in slams. That competitive element takes all the joy out of it for me, and rather than being able to support and encourage him I turn into a jangling, fidgeting ball of nerves. Slams have always made me feel a bit sick.
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Postcard from Potterrow

Dear Dorky Mum,

Greetings from the Festival.  It has been wet. A lot of rain. And this year nothing is located where it used to be.  No Speigeltent pissing off the neighbors in the middle of Old Town Univille.  And not much happening in the New Town at all, really, though the Book Festival is gallantly holding up what little is left of a Fringe on that side of the tram.

The weather has not been helpful.

The real news is the BBC.  They are here, in style, and they are working hard at doing it well. For the very first time, they have their own venue. We can only imagine what they whispered to the University of Edinburgh to gain access to a central site that was, until a few weeks ago, entirely a place where something will be built between two buildings.

The subcontractors arrived early one morning a few weeks ago and snapped together sturdy grids of basic floor, then raised upon it an elegant wee village. The Big Bubble houses a stage that any artist here would love to occupy. The three pods nearby hold a bar, a stage, and a 15-second video booth. The toilets are excellent.

Somebody thought a lot about this.

I was asked to help organise a poetry slam as part of their programming, four nights featuring six writers, with one winner each evening, then the four best on the final night. Calum Barnes – the President of Edinburgh University’s Literature Society – and I got in touch with people we know and came up with 24 warriors.

It was cool, as cool as I have ever seen the Embra spoken word thing go down in my six years talking here. Every one of those four nights was good.  Every night there were people who had never seen this thing before, and were inspired and amazed.  Every night there were joys and gasps and silence, as poets cut up the roof of that white tent with their words.

Every night it rained.

Cat Brogan won.  Go look at the Beeb site for the footage, for the winning poem. She was crisp and delicious.

This is what I think.  The BBC took a chance, which I appreciate and applaud. They built a big stage for spoken word in Edinburgh and Scotland. The poets, to a person, danced on it. The audience, to a person, liked it. Some of them even fell in love with it.

See you again, same place, same time, next year. The BBC will be welcome back.

Love,

DorkyDad