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…

Spoken Word at the Edinburgh Festival

I know you’re all getting a bit sick of me banging on about DorkyDad’s show at the Edinburgh Festival, so I thought I’d balance things out a little by highlighting some of the other spoken word events that I’m looking forward to. I use the phrase ‘spoken word’ intentionally, in an attempt to avoid stoking the ongoing debate about whether performance poetry is really any different to other kinds of poetry… because really, there are plenty other places on teh interwebs for discussing that.

Spoken word is always a challenge because it doesn’t quite fit into any of the neat categories that reviewers like to use – it’s not really theatre (although if it’s good there’s usually a touch of drama), it’s not really comedy (although if it’s good it can often be pretty funny), and it’s not really music (although it is often lyrical and sometimes involves musical accompaniment).

That said, spoken word performances can be some of the most inventive, innovative and rewarding shows of the Festival; props to the PBH Free Fringe for having a dedicated spoken word section in their programme.

Some of the ones I’m most looking forward to are:

Blind Poetics – Weekly Cabaret: Hosted by Edinburgh favourite Texture (of Chemical Poets fame), this is the August expansion of the monthly Blind Poetics night that takes place throughout the rest of the year. Expect short stories, poetry, monologues, music, and lots and lots of beer.

Catherine Brogan’s Poetry Hitch: I haven’t yet seen her perform, but Catherine Brogan is one of those names I’ve kept hearing since last year’s festival, so I’m hoping to make it along this time. The Northern Irish squatter poet (yes, really) will be hitchhiking her way to Edinburgh, and is offering guest spots to poets she meets along the way.

Inky Fingers MiniFest: InkyFingers is another regular Edinburgh night, run by the ever-interesting Harry Giles. The MiniFest is taking place as part of the FringeWords series of events at the Forest Café this summer. There will be an international flavour to the festival, with poets including Daan Doeesborgh and Sergio Garau making the trip across to Edinburgh.

Hydronomicon: Featuring another of the Chemical Poets, slam champ Harlequinade, along with producer Asthmatic Astronaut, this is where to come for your hip-hop fix. Audience members at last month’s Blind Poetics got a brilliant teaser performance of this, and a show that’s described as a rap apocalypse can’t possibly be bad.

UrBanter: Hurrah! Anita Govan has been kinda quiet recently (by quiet I mean she’s been working on a new collection and doing workshops in schools and communities, rather than tearing up the stages of Edinburgh like she was a year or two back…) but she’s back for a week of performances at the PBH Free Fringe. There will be top notch poetry and music, it takes place in a pub, and it’s free to get in. All good.

Utter: Utter is only at the Fringe for three nights this year, rather than the epic 22 show run that they managed last year – but quality over quantity and all that, right? Two of the shows are solo spoken word performances from Utter host Richard Tyrone Jones, and one is the grand finale of spoken word at the PBH Free Fringe, featuring all the festival favourites.

There are a load of other great looking spoken word shows taking place – The Hardly Boys and John Hegley to name just two – so if it’s your thing then do check out the programmes on the Fringe and PBH Free Fringe sites.

(Psssst. I know I said I wouldn’t, but I just can’t help myself… Young Dawkins -What I Know About Women So Far is also taking place as part of the PBH Free Fringe. As well as new poems from the Scottish Slam Poetry Champion 2011, there will be guest spots featuring some well kent faces from the Scottish poetry scene (and possibly even further afield…), along with music from Salsa Celtica’s Steve Kettley, and the Click Clack Club’s Dave Conway. It’s all very exciting indeed!)