Poets Tell It Like It Is With A Bit Of Jibba Jabba

Hey everyone It was now Thursday and believe me I started it on a high as Wednesday had been perhaps my best ever day at the fringe I was now heading back to Edinburgh with a big spring in my step. My only worry as I boarded the bus on a bright breezy Baillieston morning was that rhetorical question so beloved of all performers namely could I maintain the standard I had set for myself? I knew I had raised the bar and raised it to a whole new level.

When I arrived at the courtyard I was tremendously heartened to see such a big crowd. This I thought would provide me with the momentum to make sure I was at my best and this was exactly what happened.

The session compared by Helen Boden was almost full to bursting and was filled with top quality poets such as Tony Lawrence, and Anna Maria McGuire amongst others, Topics covered included Customer Service, Location, Death, and War, and with readers from Scotland England, Portugal and The USA the reading had a truly international flavour.

As for my set being last up I gave the audience a chance to select my set saying I was going to read two poems from a list of three. The topics of choice were fashion, prostitution and nuclear weapons. In an open and democratic vote the choices fashion were fashion and prostitution. I started with my poem on fashion, this was tongue in cheek look at the question that no man should ever ask. Do I Look Good In This?

If this one raised a few chuckles as it always seems to do then the one which followed it was of a somewhat darker tone. Night Shift is the story of a working woman narrated very much from her perspective. I hoped when writing it that it may touch a few raw nerves and raise awareness of the women who ply their trade in darkness on the streets of every town and city in what is often referred to as the world’s oldest profession. At the end of the session one of the women said my poem had dignified working women and I must admit I was really pleased to get that kind of feedback.

After we had finished yet another great day myself and a few others went to the Serenity Cafe where I made a black pudding roll and a diet coke last far longer than should ever be humanly possible before leaving at around 10 past to 5 to start my long treck to Pivo for Jibba Jabba which was on it’s first trip to the fringe and is run and compared by the lovely Jenny Pascoe.

I had heard great things about this event from a number of well respected poets including such trusted names as Matt Panesh, and Jim Higo. So I thought I’d better get along and check out what all the fuss was about and believe me I wasn’t disappointed,
In a format which is in some ways similar but not identical to Sammy’s Jenny had a couple of headline acts and plenty of space for those who wished to take their chance on the open mic. This was divided in to two 10 minute sections and our very own Jim Ewing managed to perform in both of them reading Bromance which is my favourite poem of his on his second visit to the stage. Needless to say I also claimed one of the open mic slots. This was in the first section of open mic slots and it was particularly good that I followed Jim since he is one of our Words and Music regulars and it gave me a chance to mention Sammy’s at the fringe.

As the slots were limited to two minutes at a time I decided to my time count by reading Twenty Four Romanians. This poem which tackles the demonising of international citizens or as the British establishment likes to call them foreigners,was a very popular choice and not only did it receive a great applause from the assembled gathering but I received great comments on it from Jenny and a number other poets in a top quality bill.

It was Jenny who kicked off the night with the opening poem before handing over floor to the headliners and it was John Swinton who was first act to the stage delivering a high octane performance and an excellent set to get us in the mood for the evening.

The contrast between the other headliners could not have been greater. In Chris Page we had a comedian who showed he knew how to tickle the funny bone and
in Sheree Mack a poet of real gravitas unafraid to tackle the big issues such as identity, race, rape, and slavery. In a breathtaking set of real quality this was a poet who left me spellbound.

At the end of the gig I went up to the Banshee for what I thought would be a quick diet coke. Instead I got involved in a very interesting conversation on independence with a no voter and her friends. Though no quarter was asked or given and we eventually agreed to differ though I did manage to sew some seeds of doubt in their minds as I compared the Britain they want with the Britain of UKIP and the Loyal Orange Order and though they may not like the fact that these organisations support their cause they are the most vocal supporters of unionism. This I think made them a little less sure of their ground. However in a debate which was always good humoured I was told that I looked like Nicola Sturgeon. Now as an SNP member and someone who has known Nicola for many years I was naturally very pleased about this.

As we went our separate ways it was time for me to get back home to Baillieston. On arriving at the bus stop I got chatting to very amiable young woman who had a lovely outgoing way with her and it turned out to be none other than the theatre critic of The List Laura Irvine. As we chatted I told her I was a blogger and spoken word performer as having an opinion on everything I felt it was my duty to share it with the world.

Also I have to say that probably without knowing it Laura helped me to gain a sense of perspective on the thorny issue of self discipline with regards to writing. You see, I know I can be a wee bit of a moaner when I don’t update my blog every day however when she told me that she has had to write no fewer than five theatre reviews a day during the fringe it certainly gave me a reality check and as a mere mortal I can only empathise with such a difficult task.

As the bus reached home I wished her well and thought on a day where I had performed well and enjoyed good company and which proved poets tell it like it is with a bit of jibba jabba.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X


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