Scottish Poetry News: January 2018

A whirlwind tour of the poetry happenings for January through Rabbie Burns and beyond

Article by Beth Cochrane | 05 Jan 2018

Let’s dive right in, shall we? This month we’re giving a whirlwind tour of spoken word happenings across the Central Belt. January – it inevitably means Burns, and it’s up to our favourite poets and programmers to bring their audiences a fresh breath of our boy Rabbie. Thankfully, Summerhall is presenting Burns Unbroke: a multi-arts festival not to be missed (25 Jan onwards). It’s a programme full of jewels, but the real gems lie in the spoken word strand.

Having hit countless successes in 2017, Flint & Pitch’s Jenny Lindsay is back with A Flyting (27 Jan). Welcoming five of Scotland’s most treasured treats of the written verse, including Liz Lochhead and Billy Letford, each poet will take to the stage with a bespoke set. Expect charming witticisms, hard-hitting humour and ae fond wink to Rabbie.

Also at Unbroke on the same night are our favourite provocateurs of poetry Neu! Reekie!, presenting Burns Eruption, a not so tim’rous twist on your classic Burns celebration. Keeping a much hushed line-up under wraps, we can only shine our dancing shoes and remain in rapturous anticipation for what raconteur hosts Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson have in store.

Burns aside, 13 January signals the return of the Scottish Slam Championship, taking place in Glasgow’s Tron Theatre. Bear witness to 2017’s slam champions battling it out in this annually sold out event. Host Robin Cairns will lead these titans of poetry through a night of trials: passion vs pathos, poignancy vs provocations. 

The rest of the slam scene continues to thrive in a whirlwind of verse and musical fusions. The Loud Poets, with accompanying band Ekobirds, arrive in 2018 with the third stage of their  LPMMPUWCGPT Invitational slam series. Heartbreak Heroes takes place on 25 January in Dram!, Glasgow and 26 January at The Mash House, Edinburgh. Expect a flood of catharsis, not one dry eye, and a whole wealth of roof raising rhymes.

Fancy something less competitive? Open mic night Inky Fingers are starting the year off with a bang. Situated in Edinburgh’s Lighthouse Books, the feature slot on 9 January is bursting with the incredible talent that is Kirsty Logan. 

And there’s a change of venue for one of poetry’s most unique slam nights. The God Damn Debut Slam is back on 12 January, but this time bringing their talent to The Scottish Poetry Library. Send organisers Matthew Macdonald and Lloyd Robinson an email to sign up for an open mic slot, but remember the twist: poets can only perform brand new, unheard and untested work. Don’t fear, though, the Debut Slam is a wholesomely safe and utterly raucous environment to present in (email for more info).  

Hop on back to Glasgow to find Leyla Josephine giving her five star Fringe show Hopeless an outing on 26 and 27 January at Tron Theatre. Hailed as one of the best spoken word performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017, Leyla is a master storyteller and performer who walks the tightrope between the political and the personal with grace and humour.

Glasgow regulars Sonnet Youth are back on 17 January at Drygate Brewery to deliver the ultimate spoken word house party; bringing together the most exciting poets, authors, rappers, comedians and musicians for a night of no holds barred performances. Stay tuned for a magic line-up like no other.

A true storm of incredible spoken word is lined up for January, this barely scrapes the surface. It seems 2018 is set to see the poetry scene go from strength to strength, so be there to witness the cracking launch of a year like no other.