BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam 2013

BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals

For the last two years, DorkyDad has hosted the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam. It’s an exciting thing – four nights of heats, with six poets competing in each one, and the winner from each night going on to compete in a grand final.

It has finally cured me of my dislike of poetry slams – I get all the excitement of watching great spoken word, and the pride that comes with watching him on the stage, without the nerves of seeing him compete.

I am super chuffed that he has been asked to host for a third time this year, and looking at the lineup, it looks like the best ever. The Slam features 24 of the best performance poets in the UK – 12 women and 12 men – including UK National Champions, Scottish National Champions, two former BBC Slam Champions and the Scottish Makar.

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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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BBC Poetry Slam at the Fringe 2012

BBC Poetry Slam Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Whoop whoop! It’s almost Edinburgh Fringe time, and I am hugely excited that DorkyDad has been asked to compere the BBC Poetry Slam again.

The Slam took place for the first time last year, and it was an absolutely brilliant line-up of poets, but this year it’s EVEN BETTER! (It’s actually a bit ridiculous how good it is.) This year it will feature the 2011 BBC Slam Champion, Catherine Brogan; Scottish Makar Liz Lochhead in her first ever Slam competition; and a special guest appearance from the 2012 Paris World Champion, Harry Baker.
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Last Chants…

Leaving parties tend to be pretty awful affairs. People feel obliged to bring gifts and cards, which is really the last thing you need when you’re trying to cut the size of your life in half and pack it into boxes. You never get as long to speak to people for as you’d like because you’re too busy topping up wine glasses, and someone (usually me) overdoes it on both the alcoholic and the emotional fronts, and ends up sobbing into a plate of sausage rolls.

So we’re not having one. Partly because it would be awful, and partly because we’re not really leaving Scotland, we’re just living somewhere else for a bit.

What we’re doing instead is inviting folk along to this awesome poetry and jazz gig – Last Chants – where you can see Young perform with Dave Conway and Steve Kettley from the Click Clack Club. There will also be poetic awesomeness from Robin Cairns, Jenny Lindsay, Kevin Cadwallender, Sophia, not to mention the briefly reunited Chemical Poets. All in the excellent surroundings of the Jazz Bar (where Young and I ‘own’ one of the keys on the grand piano…).

It would be lovely to see some friends there (and indeed some new faces too!). There will be no sausage rolls, but there will be wine, and I promise I’ll try very hard not to cry.

You can note your attendance and keep up to date with new additions to the line-up on the Facebook event page here. While you’re at it, why not Like my DorkyMum page too…

Beautiful, blind, poetic bananas. Or something.

DorkyDad and I went on a date night!

We started off with some edible awesomeness at Fishers in Leith, before taking in the full spectrum of the Edinburgh poetry scene in just two events.

First up was the launch of Emily Dodd’s book, which took place on the fab Leith Agency boat on The Shore. Banana Me Beautiful, published by Chipmunka Press, is a collection of artwork, photography and poetry from three different stages of Emily’s life – Innocent (Age 9-11), Lost and Found (Age 15-17), Alive (Age 25-28) – it’s a very personal collection, which is both moving and funny, and although Emily’s extensive experience of working with children was in evidence during her readings (lots of audience participation!), the appeal of the book is by no means limited to kiddy readers.

The boat seemed to be crammed with half of Edinburgh’s blogging and Twitter community (highly appropriate given Emily’s work as an EdinBuzz Social Media surgeon), along with representatives from the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh City of Literature, Edinburgh Spotlight and the Edinburgh Evening News. It was great to finally put some faces to familiar names.

Sara Sheridan and Juliet Wilson (Crafty Green Poet) both read some of Emily’s poems, as did DorkyDad, (who really got into the spirit of things with his starling impersonation… ahem). Drew Murphy provided music, and the excellent Rachel Everitt had some of her illustrations on display. Thanks to Emily for a really fun evening, and to her parents for providing the wine! I hope the book does really well.

We had to scoot off before the Q&A and signing in order to get to poetry event no 2 – Blind Poetics – where unfortunately we’d missed Jenny Lindsay’s set (boo hiss), but were still in time to see Annie Phetamine, Harlequinade, Fiona Lindsay (who, disappointingly, was not barefoot) and Matthew Macdonald. I’d heard a lot of good things about Annie, and she totally blew me away; Edinburgh could do with a few more feisty, pink haired, pregnant poets. It was also my first time seeing Harlequinade read solo rather than with the Chemical Poets, and I really enjoyed his performance. I can’t wait for the festival to start, when Blind Poetics will be taking place weekly.

It’s awesome that Edinburgh can accommodate two great poetry events on one night – one on a boat where people sit and eat banana cake, and one in a pub where folk sit and drink pints – and doubly awesome that DorkyDad and I could go to them both. Thanks for babysitting, DorkyGranny… bring on the next date night.

If you want to read some other perspectives on the Banana Me Beautiful launch, it has been covered today by 12 Books in 12 Months, Helen Caldwell, Crafty Green Poet, and Emily herself.