Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tips for Memorising Spoken Word Poems

When I first began watching spoken word, it always seemed incredible to me that poets could memorise entire sets of material and perform them live what seemed like effortlessly (same goes for actors and musicians). I wondered how they held it all in their heads, and how they could still seem like they were telling a story for the first time even though they knew it word for word! Now that I’ve been performing poetry for about two years, I generally perform most of my material off-book. When I first started, it was pretty intimidating (and I still get very angry butterflies in my stomach every time I perform a new piece off-book the first time), but thanks to advice from other performers and techniques I developed in my own practice, it’s gotten much easier to learn and perform new material. So, here I’d like to share some of the memorisation and performance techniques that have helped me along the way, in case they’re useful for other folks.  More after the jump!

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Being an International Student in Scotland

Hi folks! Today I’m posting something different. I was asked recently by the UK-US Fulbright Commission to speak at a conference for Holyrood Events in Edinburgh entitled International Students: Creating a Home Away from Home. They wanted to hear the perspective of an international student in Scotland on the joys and challenges of studying here and the benefits international students bring to Scotland in addition to their economic value. I wrote the following talk for them and delivered it at the conference this morning (Feb 24, 2016). The conference was fantastic: it was chaired by Henry McLeish, the second First Minister of Scotland, and opened by Humza Yousaf, MSP, who spoke eloquently on the need to bring back the post-study work visa. It was incredibly empowering to hear government and institutional officials discussing immigration in positive terms and advocating easing the restrictions which the U.K. Home Office is currently ramping up. So often as international students I think we can feel isolated and powerless, so it was good to hear that on the issue of immigration, Scotland remains internationalist and that there is universal cross-party consent at Holyrood for facilitating international students’ journeys here and their ability to stay following their studies.

My talk is below. I would welcome any comments you have on it, especially from other international students perhaps facing similar challenges. Thanks, as always, for reading!

 

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2015: Year in Review

It’s nearly the end of 2015: time to reflect on what’s been a whirlwind year of new experiences, new work, and new opportunities. I learned so much this year about making, supporting, and critiquing performance poetry, from the perspective of the poet, the organiser/host, the promoter, and the critic. Here I gather some of my favourite moments of 2015 and project ahead to an exciting 2016! Read more after the jump.

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Becoming an Ambassador for Scottish Poetry Library

So excited to announce that Carly Brown and I will be piloting the new Scottish Poetry Library Ambassadors program this year! We’ll be tweeting, blogging, and sharing news about the SPL’s programs and how to get involved, as well as taking your ideas about events and programming that you’d like to see. Carly wrote a post for her blog that sums up some of what we’ll be doing and what the SPL has to offer – check it out, along with the rest of her great work! -Katie

Carly Brown

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining the Scottish Poetry Library team as part of their brand new Ambassadors program. The poet Katie Ailes  and I will be sharing information about the library on social media and also bringing you news about poetry events happening all over Scotland. You can follow us on Twitter at @SPL_Ambassadors and follow the Poetry Library at @ByLeavesWeLive.

What is the Scottish Poetry Library, you ask?? Well, it’s a pretty great place…

The SPL is an awesome national resource and an advocate for the art of poetry. It is one of three poetry libraries in the UK and their mission is to bring the pleasures and benefits of poetry to as wide an audience as possible. They do this in lots of different ways including:

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Upcoming Performances

Hello blog readers! I’m writing to share with you the dates I’ll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August! I’m very excited to be performing with two great artistic collectives.  Continue reading

Halah Mohammed has posted the second part of our interview on her blog: read here!

Un-blocking Freedom Of Expression

Part 2

“How has your journey been with the Fulbright?”

“There is something really interesting about being an outsider and deeply studying an art form of another culture. I’m not looking at really established artists. I’m looking at people who have different day jobs and are doing poetry on the side because they love doing it. Also, performance poetry hasn’t gotten a lot of traction in academia yet. Partially because it’s new and because it’s perceived as low-brow art. I understand where that perception comes from but I still think performance poetry deserves more critical attention.

I’ve been welcomed (into Scotland) completely. I’ve never felt the sense of ‘what are you doing here?’ or ‘You’re from the States so you can’t perform at our Open-Mics!”. It’s never been that way at all. For me as an academic and an artist it’s been really good to have a dual identity because…

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The wonderful poet Halah Mohammed interviewed me a couple months ago about my poetry background and practice. Part 1 of the interview is here! Check out the rest of her interviews with spoken word poets around the world on her website, https://unblockingfreedomofexpression.wordpress.com

Un-blocking Freedom Of Expression

“When I was in third grade we had a teacher named Tom Smith who was eclectic. He wanted to focus on the arts, so we did a ton of poetry. We all memorized Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven, all 18 stanzas [chuckles], and we learned about the Italian Renaissance as well as the Harlem Renaissance. We took a field trip to Harlem, which for third graders from Pennsylvania is something that is not normally done…He didn’t end up teaching us much from the standard curriculum, so the administration didn’t approve and he left the school a couple years after I had him. But he was absolutely amazing and started that love for art and words with me. Then, I just started casually writing for a while and kept at it ’til now [smiles wide].”

“What has poetry given you?”

“I’ve always primarily been a dancer. I started dancing at the…

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Poetry Events in Glasgow, March-April 2015

Aloud – QMU have compiled a list of the poetry events in Glasgow this month – check it out!

AloudQMU

Are you, like the rest of us poetry bums, in need of a breakdown of what events are happening in and around Glasgow over the next month or so? Aye? Well you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our list of hip and happening places to be and people to see:

25th March, Wednesday – The High Flight LIVE; an excellent evening of poetry, music, high flight zines and story telling. Nice n Sleazy, 7pm doors, £5

25th March, Wednesday – Open Mic Night at the Blue Chair; a relaxed night of music, spoken word, good food and BYOB, free corkage or non-alcoholic drinks for performers, and goo The Blue Chair, 6-9pm, free in. (This will hopefully be a weekly event, every Wednesday)

30th March, Monday – Last Monday at Rio; a Glasgow staple, this month Shaun Moore, ‘a radical voice of compassion’ fronts the open mic night. Five…

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Open Mic 3 February with Katie Ailes

Inky Fingers : Words and Performance

Open Mic Katie Inky Fingers Open Mic

Tuesday 3rd February December, 8pm
Forest Café, Lauriston Place
Free!

The Inky Fingers Open Mic is back for 2015! On the first Tuesday of the month between 8-11 pm, it’s free to come and free for anyone to perform, regardless of style, experience, or identity.

We want to hear from YOU. We want your poems, your rants, your ballads, your short stories, your diaries, your experimental texts, your heart, your mind, your body. We want the essay on your summer holidays you wrote when you were four, your adolescent haiku, and extracts from your eventually-to-be-completed epic fantasy quadrilogy. We want to hear your best new work as well. And we want people to care about the way words are performed.

We are very excited to announce that this month’s feature is spoken word poet, Katie Ailes.

Katie Ailes is a poet and researcher from the…

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