Monthly Archives: April 2016

Comparing the U.S. & U.K. Spoken Word Scenes

Hello folks! So in late March/early April three of the four Loud Poets organisers went to the U.S., myself included, and participated in the spoken word scene there. I was back on the East Coast for a visit home, during which I took part in two poetry events and taught two spoken word workshops on my undergraduate university campus. Doug Garry and Catherine Wilson were two members of the University of Edinburgh team that won the U.K. UniSlam this January and earned a place at the annual CUPSI competition in Austin, TX. Team Edinburgh (which in addition to Doug and Catherine included Rachel Rankin, Lewis Brown, Jyothis Padmanabhan, and coach Toby Campion) went to CUPSI in early April to compete, and ended up winning the Spirit of the Slam Award! (And while we were off galavanting, Kevin Mclean was holding down the fort in Scotland running LP solo – thanks Kev!).

The first slam took place in the U.S. in 1984, and while of course the format has spread worldwide since, arguably the U.S. has the most developed national infrastructure for spoken word in the world: there’s a vast network of regional slams all funnelling into the annual National Poetry Slam. Funnily, though, I didn’t actually start performing spoken word until after I moved to Scotland in 2012. Now that I’m a full-time spoken word researcher, I was very interested to see how the scene in the U.S. compared with the scene I’m familiar with in Scotland. This post outlines some of the similarities and differences I perceived between those environments, based on my experiences, and includes an interview I conducted with Catherine about her observations at CUPSI. I should note that this in no way constitutes a scientific study: I’m only writing from my own very limited experience of the U.S. scene as I saw it through two events on the East Coast, and second-hand through Catherine’s comments. For a more comprehensive account, I would recommend reading Helen Gregory’s 2008 doctoral dissertation “Texts in Performance: Identity, Interaction and Influence in U.K. and U.S. Poetry Slam Discourses,” which is freely available online here.

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Guest Post: Freddie Alexander on Crowdfunding

Hello all! This week I’m delighted to feature a guest piece by my dear friend Freddie Alexander on this site. I met Freddie the first time I moved to Edinburgh, in 2012, and was blown away by his tight writing and his energetic, intense performance style. Freddie currently organises the monthly Edinburgh Open Mic Inky Fingers, and has previously been an organiser for the University of Edinburgh’s Soapbox and the 2014 National University Poetry Slam. He has been a live performer at several nights in Edinburgh, and will be featured in the Loud Poets 2016 Prague Fringe Festival tour.

Photo credit: Perry Jonsson

Photo credit: Perry Jonsson

Previously on this site I’ve shared my own experiences with crowdfunding and offered some tips for artists who are considering crowdfunding projects. However, I’ve never posted on the controversy that surrounds crowdfunding in the arts—and boy is it a big one. The concept of asking for money for art (or to support an art-making life) has ignited massive debates particularly in the past five or ten years. The publication of texts like Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking (which I highly recommend) advocating crowdfunding, and the production of massive-scale projects such as Zach Braff’s film “Wish I Was Here” have brought attention to the use of this tool by major artists. In his post below, Freddie teases out some of the controversies associated with crowdfunding, offering a balanced consideration of crowdfunding’s potential benefits and pitfalls. This can be a tricky subject to navigate, and I admire the thought and attention Freddie brings to it. Hope you enjoy! – K  Continue reading

Poetic Politics: A Selection of Contemporary Scottish Political Poetry

Hello, everyone! I’m very excited to finally share a project I’ve been developing for a while. Last year, Sarah Hamlin and I co-organised a conference called Poetic Politics: Culture and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, One Year On which took place at the National Library of Scotland in September 2015. The conference focused on the cultural legacy of the referendum and featured artists, politicians, and academics from across Scotland, including former Makar Liz Lochhead, Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop, and poet and scholar Robert Crawford. One of the themes discussed at the conference which struck me the most (discussed articulately by National Library of Scotland Referendum Curator Amy Todman) was the ephemerality of many of these cultural responses, and the difficulty of collecting and archiving this work. So many poems were shared live at rallies, or posted on private social media pages, but never published in any sustainable or public way.

So, in an attempt to bring more of this fantastic work to light, Sarah and myself are publishing an anthology! We’re undertaking this project in partnership with Luath Press, and will be working with a larger sub-editorial team of researchers from a variety of fields (English Lit, Scot Lit, Politics, History, etc.) to bring a wealth of perspectives to the table when combing through submissions.

If you have written any poetry engaging with Scottish political issues, we would love to read your work! The call for submissions is on our website; submissions are due May 15. Poems need not respond to the Scottish constitutional question but may address a wide range of political issues. We welcome work in any language, although translations are required in English, Scots, or Scots Gaelic for any poems not in those languages. Although the anthology will be a physical, print-based book, we also welcome submissions of performance-based poetry (in video or audio format) for consideration for publication on our website.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! -Katie