Rhyme Watch: Scottish Poetry News – December 2017

As we come towards the festive season and everything begins to tie up for the end of term, news on the poetry front becomes less intense in terms of competitions and personal soapboxes

Preview by Clare Mulley | 01 Dec 2017
  • Hollie McNish

Poetry was just made for this time of year. Sure, we want action – but more in the form of a gentle talk, a reading or a fun mixer to get us into the festive spirit. Something to get us bedded down into the indoorsy style of deep-thinking, whether it be in the party spirit or the armchair frame of mind. And fire. Definitely something involving fire. It goes with the territory, after all.

The date to put in your diaries, if you haven’t already outlined it in red, is 15 December. Not just one, but two stonking nights of poetry, music and noise are up for grabs, both of which would be a memorable way to start the holidays.

In true bombastic fashion, Neu! Reekie! are hosting their Xmas Snowblinder, which will be their third appearance at the gorgeous venue of Central Hall, Edinburgh. Early bird tickets have long flown off, but if you hurry you might still book a spot (full price £20). The night will feature top bods from spoken word, music, film and performance, and this year’s line-up is typically eclectic and tantalising. Irvine Welsh, Charlotte Church, Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchison and Hollie McNish head the line-up – full details here.

Meanwhile, at Clydebank Town Hall, Flint & Pitch are hosting their second Winter Revue, hosted by Jenny Lindsay and featuring an eclectic mix of music and spoken word from Alan Bissett, Rachel Amey, Chris McQueer, Miss Irenie Rose and The Strange Blue Dreams. Tickets are £10 (£70 for a table of eight), and it’s going to be glorious. It’s been amazing watching Flint & Pitch steadily flowering to become one of the most exciting ventures on the Scottish poetry scene, and there’s already a fair bit lined up for the New Year. Watch this space…

For people still looking to attend a more academic event before the partying starts, look no further than the keynote address for PEN at the Scottish Poetry Library on 9 December, given by David Pratt, foreign correspondent of The Herald. PEN having defended the rights of self-expression for writers over the past 90 years, the event is in honour of Human Rights Day and looks set to be a thought-provoking and lively evening. The programme will feature readings from leading Scottish writers, and attendance is free, with spaces bookable on Eventbrite.

Finally, if you’re still stuck with what to buy the literary-leaning people in your life, it’s always a good idea to check out the talent on the new publications front, just so you don’t fall for getting yet another ‘Best Of’ anthology – it may be classic, but, as any book hunter knows, ‘classic’ doesn’t always mean satisfying or refreshing. You’ll be glad to know that there are two events to help you choose something more personal.

On 12 December, The National Library of Scotland is holding its annual and very successful poetry pamphlet fair, featuring independent publishers from across the nation. As well as browsing and meeting the people behind the businesses, you’ll get to hear some of the poems as well, adding a lovely touch to the experience. The second is the Xmas Discount Shopping Night at the Scottish Poetry Library, on 14 December from 6-9pm. This one pretty much does what it says on the tin. You’ll have the chance to enter a raffle to win some SPL goodies, and there will be an extra bonus surprise on the night. Otherwise, it’s 10 percent off everything except sale stock, and an extra 20 percent off for Friends. While you’re at it, buy something for yourself – Christmas only comes once a year, and what better excuse to stock up on new, shiny tomes? Ah, go on.