Inky fingers and many voices at the Porty Poetry Bash

A guest post by Harry Giles

There’s a lot of reasons I love open mic. I love the curious audiences, the way you’re always free to try something new out, the relaxed atmosphere and lack of pressure, the audiences who’re always half writers as well, so pretty supportive and friendly. But most of all I love open mics – and spend a lot of time organising and hosting them – because I love the fantastic range of people and poems you find at them.

Edinburgh City Libraries asked us to run the Porty Poetry Bash to bring some of that spoken word spirit to Portobello Library for National Poetry Day. In the week before we hosted a couple of workshops in ‘Page to Stage’, encouraging writers to try performing their poems for an audience for perhaps the first time, or just brush up on their skills. Then on 4th October we kept the library open late to welcome people to the stage.

The night itself saw experienced performers like Emily Dodd, now Reader-in-Residence at Leith Library, alongside first-timers like illustrator and writer Max Scratchman and poet Alanna Jane, who came all the way through from Glasgow to share her work for the first time. We had ballads, free verse, comic pastiches and live rap, and fantastic moments of variety like when Colin Matthews’s hip-hop verses were followed directly by Gavin Bolus’s epic poetic astronomical exploration.

All night long the audience were warm, welcoming and appreciative of everything the poets had to offer. It was great to see folk from Portobello and further afield crammed together to enjoy each other’s work, and to support friends in taking the stage. When we had to wrap up and head back out into the cold, the conversations kept going – all different kinds of writers chatting about the poetry, and why we love doing it so much. A great way to celebrate the day!

Thanks to our feature performers, Fiona Lindsay and Robin Cairns, and to all the Open Micers: Emily Dodd, Max Scatchman, Steve Harvie, Alanna Jane, James Spence, Kisten Mackie, Colin Matthews, Gavin Bolus, Josh Sutherland, Phil Owens and Alan Waddell.

Harry Giles is a poet and theatre-maker from Orkney, now living in Edinburgh; find out more at harrygiles.org. Inky Fingers can be found at inkyfingersedinburgh.wordpress.com, on Facebook and on Twitter 

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