National Poetry Day: five ways to enjoy some sweet rhymes and couplets
Gone are the days you have to sit in a library reading sonnets: video poetry, spoken word and slams are the future
For some people, poetry means Shakespearean sonnets read by people sporting Jacobean ruffs, lines read at weddings about love being like dove from above, and dirty limericks about folk from Nantucket. To be fair, poetry can mean all of those things. That said, it can also be an interesting, creative way to engage with politics and people, a way to articulate complex emotions, and ever so occasionally, a way to make people laugh. Since Thu 6 Oct is National Poetry Day, we've rounded up five ways to enjoy poetry beyond reading Wordsworth at the behest of your standard grade English teacher.
Spoken Word Nights
The UK's spoken word scene is in rude health, and in Edinburgh and Glasgow particularly, it's thriving. Events such as Neu! Reekie!, Loud Poets, Blind Poetics, Inky Fingers and Freak Circus pop up regularly, and give the mic to established and emerging poets alike.
Adding a competitive edge to spoken word, poetry slams come in all shapes and sizes. There are wee ones organised by local poetry clubs, in which the prize can be anything from a pint of lager to a faux plastic medal bought from the big ASDA the night before, or national competitions. The Scottish Slam Championships comes with prize money, so holler to that dolla.
Video poetry is growing in popularity. Rachel McCrum, formerly of Edinburgh's poetry night Rally & Broad, is the lady behind Filmpoesie: a Scotland-Quebec project which makes short films featuring poetry. Did you know there's also an International Film Poetry Festival? It's taking place in Athens this year. There's also such a thing as YouTube, where poets such as Agnes Torok and Hollie McNish have seen their work go viral.
Outside In / Inside Out Festival launches in Glasgow this month. It's going on right now, in fact, as I type this sentence. It features readings, talks, discussions and exhibitions, which are designed to connect Scotland's poetry with the international scene. StAnza takes place every year in St Andrew's, and puts world-class poets on the stage, in conference rooms, and in cafes, to wax lyrical about the power of the written (and spoken word).
Pick up a pamphlet or two
Keep an eye out for poetry fairs where you can pick up pamphlets from new writers. There's one at the National Library of Scotland on Thu 8 Dec, and best of all, you can enjoy a glass of wine as you peruse.
National Poetry Day, Thu 6 Oct.