Hey everyone As you are aware posts on spoken word nights take a wee bit longer to write than others as I often have to collect on such occasions. This is certainly true of the July Glasgow National Session held at Stereo earlier this month.
Though the attendance was slightly down on previous event which I think we can put down to the fact that attendances do tend to dip in the summer and July is traditionally the main month of the west of Scotland holiday season. There was also another migrating factor in this slight dip which could be explained by the fact that the Yestival was busy spreading the word at venues all over Scotland and had only a few days earlier packed the Govanhill Baths to capacity for one of the main events of the tour in an event which was brilliantly organised by my friend and fellow poet Jim Monaghan.
However despite these alternative attractions or maybe even because of them, this made those in attendance determined to have a right good night of it and demonstrate that the national collective really is a collective as we can prove by the strengths and talents of our members.
So it is safe to say that everyone was fired up for a cracking night and this was especially true for yours truly as I had just celebrated my birthday the previous Friday and you know I can’t think of a better way of having a belated celebration than gathering with a crowd of independence supporters enjoying top quality music, poetry, comedy, and journeys to yes.
This was an inspirational evening of quality performances from beginning to end organised by the brilliant and hugely talented one woman force of nature that is Victoria Kerr. Quite where she finds the energy drive an commitment to unearth so many talented performers I honestly do not know but I’m really glad she does and I have to say we got the night off to a perfect start with the music of Laura Corrigan. Laura kicked off the night with a laid back acoustic style set which proves that not all songs on independence are the ranting raving war cries that the no Scotland camp would have you believe. Personally I found Laura’s set to be gentle but engaging and her easy going style was the ideal way to warm up the gathering for what lay ahead.
After this smooth melodic start to the evening Billy Bates then gave us a fact filled presentation on why Scotland needs to vote yes. In doing so, Billy blew so many holes in the unionists argument that there better together slogan now resembled the most worn out of all Rab C Nesbitt’s string vests or a discarded pair of badly ripped fishnet tights.
After the bar break Stephen Paton regaled us with the news as spun by better together thus highlighting and indeed busting the myths they present to the gullible as facts. This was not only entertaining it was also educational and is a great way to win over the hearts and minds of any undecided voters in the audience. This was followed by a journey to yes and yet more quality music before the last ten minutes or so were taken up by open mic slots. In the first of these Angel performed a kind of saga rather than the music for which she is better known.
As for the final act of the evening I am reliably informed she is a real trouble maker and I should know because that trouble maker is actually me. As I took to the stage I decided that I would due to time constraints perform only two poems instead of the three I had planned.
I started my brief set with Twenty Four Romanians. In my introduction to this poem I said that one of the reasons I will be voting Yes to independence is the fact that I want our country to have a fair immigration system which works to suit Scotland for the benefit of Scotland. Make no mistake though this poem is promoting what I hope is a fairer more inclusive Scotland it is also pointing an accusing finger at Westminster and the right wing policies they are pursuing and the subsequent atmosphere of exclusion they create. This poem is overtly political and in it I take a well deserved dig at unionist politicians both Conservative and Labour who are framing the UK Immigration policies to suit the needs of Nigel Farage and UKIP rather than the country neither of them seem to be very good at governing.
It is fair to say that if that poem was well received my second one I Am National Collective almost raised the roof. This was I thought the perfect choice to finish the night and believe me I was right. In a what was part autobiography and part manifesto I laid my vision of the better Scotland I find it easy to imagine right on the line. I spoke of the role of poets in national movements, urged my country to learn from the mistakes of the past and speak with an international voice. I hope that by giving my interpretation of what National Collective stands for namely a positive progressive Scotland with fairness at its beating heart I have shown my reasons for voting yes are both principled and pragmatic and cannot be dismissed as narrow minded parochial prejudice by unionists who in my opinion are guilty of exactly that. It is as far as I am concerned the unionists who take every opportunity to talk Scotland down and by doing so they are exposing the fact that it is they will be far more likely to be associated with failure and fear rather than freedom and fairness.
As I left the stage to one of the biggest rounds of applause I have received in 21 years of performing my poetry I was greeted by new diaspora Scots from Nigeria, Zambia, and Romania, and when a young Romanian yes voter tells you she liked your poem thanks you defending her country perhaps it’s time to realise that Scotland really is a national collective. We are a land that all global citizens are proud to call home.
Love And Best Wishes