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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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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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…

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