This winter I was honoured to be asked to contribute to the Dangerous Women Project, a fantastic initiative currently running out of the University of Edinburgh. The project asks the question ‘what does it mean to be a dangerous woman?’ and is posting a different response each day for a year (between International Women’s Day 2016 & 2017). For the project I was interviewed in advance of my upcoming workshop for the Audacious Women Festival by the wonderful Jess Orr, a fellow PhD researcher and one of the festival organisers. Jess and I talked about what it’s like being a female spoken word artist in today’s scene, especially the experience of being loud in a culture that generally expects women to be more demure. We also chatted about the poem I wrote for YWCA Scotland for their Envision 2035 campaign, which I’ve linked below. The link to the interview is here; check it out if you’re interested, and definitely peruse the other posts on the site as it’s full of fascinating research, creative work, and essays from a wide diversity of women. Hope you have a great week!
Hello all! I’m delighted to feature another guest post on the website today, this time from the incredibly talented Glasgow-based spoken word artist Shannon MacGregor. Shannon came onto the scene like a thunderbolt in 2015, wowing crowds with her sharply written and dynamically delivered work. She recently represented Team Glasgow at the 2017 UK UniSlam. In addition to being an inspiring poet and performer, Shannon also supports the scene by co-organising Aloud, the poetry open mic at the University of Glasgow.
Here, Shannon shares some insights on her experiences being an artist in the Glasgow spoken word scene. Enjoy!
Photo credit: Perry Jonsson.
Hello everyone! One of my biggest joys this past year has been doing more teaching. One of the chief reasons I got into academia was to teach – I’ve found that there’s no better way to learn than to share your knowledge with others. In the autumn I taught Intro to Creative Writing at Strathclyde, where the syllabus mostly focused on prose. Since I’ve primarily written and researched poetry for the past several years, it was wonderful for me to revisit the basics of prose writing and work with my students to develop their skills. This semester I will be teaching ‘Writing Real Life,’ a third-year course focused on creative non-fiction. I’m really enjoying prepping for the course by reading as many essays, profiles, and memoirs as possible! It’s particularly interesting for me as a (usually) confessional spoken word artist to consider the fine line between truth and fiction in well-crafted creative ‘non-fiction,’ particularly considering the haziness of memory.
In addition to teaching at Strathclyde, I’m also excited to be delivering several one-off workshops that will be open to the public. Although these workshops will differ slightly, each is focused on getting folks started composing and performing spoken word. Details are below; would be wonderful to see you there!
First, I’m delighted to be giving a workshop as part of this year’s Audacious Women Festival in Edinburgh! The festival’s motto is ‘Do what you always wish you dared,’ and the workshops offered encourage women to get out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves to boldly do what they never thought they could. I’ll be delivering a two-hour spoken word workshop specifically for women on Saturday, 25th Feb. at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. This workshop is for women of all ages and experience levels, and will give you the tools you need to begin writing and performing audaciously. Tickets available here.
Second, I am incredibly honoured and excited to be delivering a workshop at this year’s StAnza festival in St. Andrews! My fellow Loud Poet Kevin Mclean and I will be giving a two-and-a-half hour workshop on Sunday, 5th March to anyone interested in composing and performing spoken word. The workshop is FREE and open to all. Later that day we’re holding a Loud Poets showcase in the same space, so why not make it a spoken word afternoon? Details on the StAnza website.
Finally, in May I’m very pleased to be giving a workshop for the new social enterprise The Curious Thing in Stirling! This project provides classes for adults looking to learn new skills and re-invests all profit back into the community to create social change. I’ll be giving a two-hour workshop on 18th May at the Stirling Smith Gallery for adults interested in writing and performing their own poetry. Tickets are now available via this link.
If you’re interested in booking me or any of the Loud Poets for a workshop, please contact us through email@example.com and we’d love to work with you. Hope you’re having a creative 2017 so far! – Katie
Photo credit: Perry Jonsson
Posted in Performance Poetry, Teaching
Tagged Audacious Women Festival, Loud Poets, performance poetry, poetry workshops, Scotland, Scottish poetry, spoken word, StAnza, The Curious Thing, workshops
Hello everyone! Just a quick post today to share details of some upcoming performances at festivals this August.
This August is the third annual Loud Poets run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where we’re delighted to be returning to the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile. We’ve written an entirely new show for this year, on the theme of “making it loud.” Loud Poets has always performed off-book with a live band, but for this show we’ve really experimented with all the ways we can bring poetry off the page and combine it with other art forms to create a truly multi-medium experience. In addition to poetry and live music, there will be movement, dance, videography, audience interaction, and plenty of surprises. We’re really excited about this show, and can’t wait to share it with everyone.
We’ll be performing Aug 5-14, 16-21, 23-29 at 9pm every night at the Storytelling Centre, with tickets at £10/£8 concession. There are two 2-for-1 tickets nights, on Aug 8 & 9, though these are selling out quickly so I’d recommend booking soon. Tickets and more information here.
Although performing with Loud Poets will be taking up most of my time this August, I’m also delighted to be performing at two other festivals. On August 27 I’ll be performing on the Roar spoken word stage at the Stowed Out festival down in the Borders, alongside a great lineup – more information here. I’ll also be a featured performer at Flint & Pitch’s Unbound showcase at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 28 at 9pm – event page here. If you’re in Scotland, would be great to see you there!
Thanks as always for reading (and for tolerating the shameless self-promotion here…) Hope everyone’s having a wonderful summer! -Katie
Last night I had the pleasure of performing at Vineyard Arts, which is a lovely biweekly arts group taking place in a church space in Partick. That evening—a very rainy one, even for Glasgow—the attendance was fairly low, and the folks who showed up were mostly fellow spoken word artists. I realised that most of the pieces in the spoken word set I’d prepared would be familiar to most of the folks in the room, so I decided to scrap it and instead read from my collection, Homing. It was a surprisingly lovely experience: I almost never read publicly from Homing, since most of the time I’m booked as a spoken word artist and expected to perform off-book.
Th experience of sharing poems from the book reminded me of the experience of putting Homing together last spring—it’s hard to believe it’s been out for nearly a year! The whole process, from the initial idea to drafting to printing to selling the books, was such a whirlwind journey in which I learned a huge deal about the process of funding, compiling, publishing, and marketing a poetry collection. So, here I reflect on that process and on some of the realisations it gave me about my own work and creative practice.
Cover photography & design: Perry Jonsson Art.
Posted in Creative Practice
Tagged collection, pamphlet, performance poetry, poem, poet, poetry, poetry collection, publishing, self-publishing, Slam poetry, spoken word
Hello everyone! I’m just catching my breath after two whirlwind tours with Loud Poets in the past three weeks, first to the Brighton Fringe, then to the Prague Fringe. Both festivals were fantastic, and I’m so grateful to the team of poets, musicians, and our videographer Perry Jonsson for working so hard to make our shows the best they could be. Now back to research, writing, and preparations for Loud Poets’ month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe this August!
Rather than a blog post, today I’m sharing a vlog I recorded with the fantastic Glasgow-based poet Sam Small back in February. We chatted about whether or not there are regional differences in spoken word styles across Scotland, including discussing the effects of globalisation and technology on the art form. Thanks to Perry for filming, and to Loud Poets for curating this great vlog series! Please do check out the rest of the videos up on the Loud Poets YouTube channel while you’re there, including many more vlogs plus lots of poetry! Hope you’re well, and thanks for watching!
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!
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.
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.
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
Update: there’s a great discussion going around this post where I linked it on my Facebook artist page – check it out here and please do join in! -K
Yesterday the Scottish Poetry Library released its annual list of the Best Scottish Poems of 2015
, a selection curated this year by novelist and poet Ken MacLeod. It is a fine list containing a variety of excellent pieces, and my hearty congratulations go out to each poet named there. In no way in what follows do I mean to question the merit of these excellent poems, or MacLeod’s judgment in choosing them. However, upon reading through the selections this year I was disappointed to see that not a single performance-based poem was selected, and reading MacLeod’s essay accompanying his selections it became clear that only text-based, print-published poems were considered in the pool for selection. This frustrated me because I feel that this selection method passes over the rich offerings in performance-based poetry produced over the last year in Scotland, and reflects a blind spot towards one of Scotland’s richest literary traditions. In this post I will address why this is frustrating to me and encourage that the pool might be widened in future years.
A wee disclaimer: I’m writing this with the utmost love for the SPL. It’s my favourite haven in Edinburgh and I think the folks there do wonderful work encouraging and supporting poets and lovers of poetry. I also think the SPL usually works very hard to publicise and support all sorts of poetry across Scotland, so this seems more a rare instance of oversight for them than symptomatic of bad programming (more on all the great work they do later).