Scottish Poetry News – February 2019

Our monthly poetry column returns to recommend the newest collections and events to get you through the final wintery weeks of the season

Feature by Beth Cochrane | 04 Feb 2019
  • Travis Alabanza

Before breezing into February, let’s take a minute to recognise and congratulate some of poetry’s biggest successes of the year thus far. Much deservedly, Edinburgh-born J.O. Morgan has been announced as the winner of the Costa Poetry Award with his book-length poem Assurances. In addition, London-based Hannah Sullivan has been awarded the T.S. Eliot prize for her first collection, Three Poems. Sullivan is only the third awardee in the prize’s twenty-five year history to be awarded the prize for a debut collection – truly an outstanding accomplishment. And rounding up January’s poetic wins: huge congratulations to Scotland’s new Slam Champion, Calum Rodger. Calum will be representing Scotland in the International Slam Championship in Paris later this year. Let’s hope he wins, shall we?

Now, to February. Carcanet will be releasing Alison Brackenbury’s newest book, Gallop, on 28 Feb. The poetic works in Gallop have been collected from Brackenbury’s lengthy career which spans across three decades. Previously her poetry has been awarded an Eric Gregory Award, as well as a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors. Gillian Clarke, former National Poet of Wales, comments that Brackenbury "loves, lives, hymns and rhymes the natural world and its people like no other poet."

On 21 Feb, Picador Poetry will be releasing John Kinsella’s Insomnia. Kinsella, an Australian poet, is the author of over 30 books and is a Fellow of Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. Poetically praising the natural world and our human connection to it and ourselves, Insomnia should really be on your to-read list.

Are you a poet yourself, looking to pay your way with your work, event promoting or spoken word theatre making? Jenny Lindsay of Flint & Pitch Productions may well have the course for you. The weekend-long masterclass, ‘But…How Do You Pay The Rent? Building a Career in Spoken Word/ Live Literature’, will take place on 9 and 10 Feb at the Saltire Society in Edinburgh. At only £45 for both days, this event is absolutely unmissable for those of you looking to forge a freelance career in spoken word performing and promoting.

The University of Edinburgh will be hosting queer artist, activist and performer Travis Alabanza in the David Hume Tower on 8 Feb at 7pm. They will be presenting a talk on poetry as a source of personal and political power before performing their poetry. Following this, there will be a short discussion with PhD researcher Jessica Brough on liberation and transformation as found through poetics.

And finally, publisher Speculative Books has launched its new weekly poetry night at The Parlour in Glasgow’s West End. Entry is free; there will be an open mic section in the evening too, so remember to bring a poem along with you. Chris McQueer, Leyla Josephine and Iona Lee are set to be the featured acts for the next three dates on 10, 17 and 24 February.