Queer Spoken Word Out:Spoken
'A space where queer poets (both performing and in the audience) can be unafraid, proud, and celebrated'
‘Spoken word has always been an artform that’s about disruption, speaking from the margins, and shouting the unspoken,’ says poet Harry Giles. Writer and performer Wendy Miller agrees: ‘All art should set out to be queer on some level, in that it should challenge perceived societal norms, push boundaries and shake up established systems and ways of looking at the human experience.’
Both writers will be performing at OUT:SPOKEN, a quarterly showcase of queer spoken word. It began as a one-off event, but proved so popular that organiser Katherine McMahon made it more regular. ‘I set up the event series after chatting with other poets who felt worried that expressing their identities would earn them the label of a niche poet, put people off listening, or make people take them less seriously,’ says Katherine. ‘There is so much talent in the queer community, but it can be tricky to negotiate constantly coming out on stage with the fear of homophobia.’
There will be plenty of variety in the performances, with subjects ranging from politics to grief to youth – and, of course, plenty of love and sex.
‘When I was a boy I was so ashamed I wanted to be invisible,’ says writer and performer Jo Clifford. ‘Now I’m a trans woman it’s important to me to be proudly visible to the world. Performance is great for that.’ The event is not just a journey for the performers, though; the audience might learn about themselves too: ‘Every man has a woman inside him, I think, that he’s been taught to be frightened and ashamed of. And maybe I can communicate that there is no need to be frightened or ashamed.’
Katherine adds: ‘I want to create a space where queer poets (both performing and in the audience) can be unafraid, proud, and celebrated.’
Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Sun 23 June