Some Take The High Road Some Take The Low Road I Went To Easter Road For A Feast Of The Finest Poetry

Hey everyone On Wednesday night I ventured to the streets of our capital city but not to my usual haunts along the royal mile. This time the venue was Easter Road an area usually more associated with football than top quality culture.

This time however the venue was a bar rather than the football stadium. It was aptly named Persevere I say it is aptly named because preserve is something which both footballers and poets have to do if they want to improve their craft. So it was perhaps fitting that it was to play host to a midweek match in which I was making my debut as part of the local 10red team managed by our compare for the evening by Kevin Cadwallender for whom this is always not only a home game but a home win.

I arrived at the venue around 7.30 just in time to get myself settled for the 8 o’clock kick off. As I looked around it was good to see fellow performers on the bill such as Sheila Templeton, Rachel McCrum, and Chris Young. Whilst in the audience I spotted friends Colin Will, Matt MacDonald, and the current Scottish Slam Champion Miko Berry.

Looking for a seat I placed myself at the table which was furthest away from the stage. This was a good move, as I meant I was meeting new company including fellow performers Lisa Matasumo and Jane Goldman whose company and hospitality was both appreciated and enjoyed. As the clock moved towards 8 o’clock our host took to the stage and got the night under way.

The first act up to the mic was Edinburgh based poet and regular 10red supporter David McDonald whose poem on fracking was top quality and will live in the memory of those who heard it. David was a new voice to me and someone who I hope to hear more of as I attend future readings on the east coast.

Amazingly I was next up and going on so early would never be my choice but this time it seemed to work in my favour. I performed a set of five poems and I started with The Lemon Dress a poem I know is a particular favourite of our genial host. If becoming a woman was my adolescent dream, a dream which I have eventually realised as I live full time in my acquired gender, my next two poems showed what kind of woman I have grown up to become and illustrated my left wing politics in no uncertain terms. In the first of these Tights Before Trident I gave the audience a lesson from the Legally Blonde school of economic theory. This one seemed to go down well amongst the audience and got a few laughs in the appropriate places.

My next poem mentioned both the F word Farage and the C Word Cameron. I think Kevin had thanked our previous reader for not mentioning the F word or the C word though whether they were the same words I don’t know. However I played it safe just in case they were and promised Kevin that both would get a doing in my poem, much to the delight of an audience in which Tories were on the endangered species list. The poem, Twenty Four Romanians was an attack on the right wing press which had claimed that we (that is Britain) would be overrun by immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria. This one received complements from quite a few of my fellow performers who liked some of the rhymes in it. I have to say this meant a great deal to me.

My penultimate poem was A Single Girl On Valentine’s Night, was about a woman at ease with herself. A confident woman who didn’t buy in to the idea that you need to get a valentine’s card to be loved. A woman who knows that love can happen any time of the year.

I concluded my set with The Champagne Socialist. I was under strict orders from both Jim Monaghan, and Catherine Baird to read this poem. Jim in particular said that I had to read it as it was the best pro independence poem he had heard as it didn’t mention Independence, Yes Scotland Alex Salmond, or the SNP but instead stated the socialist case for self determination.

As I went back to my seat amongst the gathering it was the turn of local musician Tom Houston to entertain the company with a few songs and I have to say I was very impressed and his cool ,calm, relaxed demeanour was probably just what they needed after the scatty rantings of a Glasgow madwoman.

During the break we tucked in to the free food provided by the bar there was Pizza, Sausage Rolls, and Chicken and I whilst tucking in to the feast especially the Sausage Rolls and Chicken made sure I wasn’t the first at my table to get fed. One thing I did get however was feedback on my set, which received a number of positive comments from Matt MacDonald, and Miko Berry amongst others and Colin Will said he had been impressed by the variety of the poems selected.

After the break it was turn of
It was the turn of Lisa Matsumoto somehow managed to turn a pint of milk into a phalic symbol. Like quite a few others on the bill Lisa was a new name to me and her engaging style was a winner with the audience

Next up was another poet from our table Jane Goldman to entertain the company which she did by being possibly the first poet I know to launch measured and reasoned attacks on the policies of Margaret Thatcher without going in to rants or polemics. Speaking from experience I know that I would far more likely to go down the latter route traditionally favoured by West of Scotland lefties.

Morgan Downie is another new name to me however I have to say I did enjoy his set even if it was based around death. Well as he said you see a lot of death in his job and to be honest I think his poems summed up the grim reality of it.

Still on the subject of death Sheila Templeton was next up to the stage and read a poem one of my favourite poems of hers A Bonnie Feichter which deals sensitively with the death of a much loved horse. As always is the case with Sheila she delivered a polished, professional performance I’ve come to expect over the years. Reading a range of her work both in English and Scots her ability to write both standard English and the mither tongue of her birth adds a gentle warmth to her poems and it has to be said that when it comes to the latter I can’t think of any poet who comes anywhere near to matching her.

After another short break it was time for our final three readers and Rachel McCrum, Chris Young and Kevin MacLean certainly didn’t disappoint. Rachel performed a buckfast poem amongst other in a passionate powerfully delivered set which illustrated to any newcomer to her talents why this woman is an slam winning poem blessed with enormous drive, energy, and most of all talent.

As for Chris Young what can I say about the man that I haven’t said a million times before to put it as simply as I can the man is a genius. Well anyone who can include poems on Ageing, The Glasgow, Weather, The Environment and the cause of Ginger Rights has got to have a very unique take on life and believe me in the world according Christopher is extremely unique. It is also, and I have to say this, entertaining, educational, and enjoyable.

The last performer of a truly memorable evening was Kevin MacLean. Like many others on the bill, this was my first time hearing Kevin’s work and believe me when I say in the words of Del Boy Trotter he was top of the range my friends he was top of the range. I especially enjoyed his poem on names and how he gives everyone a name and character traits as we enact the daily dramas of everyday life.

At the end of an excellent Jane Goldman not only gave a lift to the station, she also said she enjoyed my performance so much she would be in touch with an invite to another poetry event in the west end of Glasgow. I can see the headlines now transsexual poet traumatises luvvies. I look forward to that with eager anticipation.

As I made my way back home to Baillieston I reflected on the fact that I had done myself justice and done the village proud with what I thought was one of my best performances in a good few months. I was however heartened when during a chat with Sheila Templeton last night on facebook regarding the events of the evening she said it was best she had ever seen me read. Now I have to say when I get a compliment like that from a poet of genuine stature I both respect and admire then I know I’ve kicked ass.

You know there is a well known Scottish folk song and I’m sure any suspecting Runrig fans will know the chorus of Loch Lomond. It starts so you take the high road and I’ll take the low road and I’ll be in Scotland before you. Well on an early Summer’s evening I am sure some did take the high road I am also sure that some will have taken the low road. As for me I went to Easter Road for a feast of the finest poetry.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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