When Your Wonder Woman’s Auntie You’ve The Right To Be Out Spoken

Hey everyone After the success of Tuesday it was with optimism I boarded the bus on Wednesday morning on the road to Edinburgh for my second day of performing at this year’s Fringe. This however was bigger I had as far as I aware to two performances in my schedule. The first of these would be at my traditional home namely the courtyard of the Scottish Poetry Library. Where I would take my usual place among the readers. The second would take to me to my spiritual home at the Banshee Labyrinth where I was performing a five minute open slot at Out Spoken an LGBTI spoken word run by the very talented Katherine McMahon.

As is usually the case on days the case on the days like these the bus journey went in really quicker than usual and what seemed like five minutes rather than the hour I knew it to be I pounding up North Bridge on my way to the mile and ready for whatever had in store for me.

As I arrived at the courtyard I was greeted by one of the poetry scene’s most likeable characters Tony Capaldi who regaled me with tales of his latest misadventures before we were eventually joined by the compare for the session my friend and mentor Ann Connolly.

Unusually for these events I elected to go first when Ann asked if anyone had a preference for going on early. I did this I was mindful of the fact that I was going to have to leave about half way through the reading to head up to the event Out Spoken. On taking to the stage I read two poems My Glasgow and The Lemon Dress so those who didn’t know me could get a flavour of where I came in terms of both my city and my politics, and also of the more personal side of me. It was also good to give The Lemon Dress a dress rehearsal before Out Spoken.

As I went to back on the steps it was Tony Capaldi’s turn to entertain the company and he certainly lived up to his reputation as a showman as he performed two poems one of which was my favourite poem of his A Jacobite Am I.

A saw a few more poets before including the excellent A C Clarke before I had to head off to the Banshee for Out Spoken. As I hit the road I prayed that I wouldn’t bump in to another SNP MSP as much as though I like and respect my fellow party members I was in a hurry to get to my gig and would not have time to chat.

Eventually with minutes to spare I met to the Banshee and headed to the banqueting hall to join what compare Katherine McMahon described as the Out Spoken queer family. Katherine called the gathering to order and got the show on the road with Pride which she described as the queerest poem in her collection. After her introductory poem Katherine introduced the first act Dominic Berry who read two poems the first of which Beetroot Juice was absolutely brilliant.

Next up was Hannah Chutzpah. This was the first time I had heard Hannah’s work and I have to say I really enjoyed it and her poem Permission was one of the best poems I’ve heard for a very long time.

After Hannah it was time for the open mic sessions. Since there were two of us, we were given a choice of whether we wanted to take. Since my fellow open slot had expressed a preference were going second it was now time for me to take the stage.

As a poet and performer whose on the circuit for 21 years and attending fringe events for last 10 I can honestly say that apart from my appearance at last month’s National Collective Glasgow session, I have never been more honoured to perform at any spoken word event in all that time. Make no mistake as a transwoman this was a very important day for me and I didn’t want to let anyone down least of all myself.

I performed three poems in a five minute set The Lemon Dress which tells about growing up trans with no sisters and a mother too concerned with the opinions of others. Secret Girl which explains the difficulties I had on trying to fit in at first year secondary school and how the friendship of a group of third year girls helped me survived the hell of settling at the big school and A Trans Daughter Remembers Her Mother which takes a retrospective and I hope reflective look at the challenging yet loving relationship I had with my mother.

As I finished my set it was time for the other open mic act to his heart about what it was like to grow up both Asian and Gay. All I can say is having listened to his poetry I have I hope a better understand on what must have a difficult time for him.

As he left the stage it was time for Fay Roberts to entertain and this she certainly in her own unique with a thought provoking set which was delivered with the passion those have seen her have come to expect from a poet whose performances are both polished and professional.

After Fay it was time for the final act of the show Jo Clifford who performed an extra from her well loved play Jesus Queen Of Heaven. In this extract Jo narrates the return of the prodigal son as the return of the prodigal transsexual daughter. This was very moving and very relevant as demonstrated the parable in the sense of how one would like to imagine the truth of how a father would treat his trans daughter in caring 21st century society

To conclude her extract Jo brought the house down by delivering the blessing and believe me to have a whole room close our eyes and join hands has to be one of most powerful pieces of live theatre I have experienced.

At the end of the show both Fay and Hannah said that hearing my final poem had brought a tear to their eye and Katherine said I was a powerful force on the stage. I was gobsmacked I hadn’t expected to gain such good feedback for my efforts but I must admit I was pretty pleased with myself.

During the after show chat Fay reminded me that I should e-mail Other Voices to get a slot on the bill before the end of the fringe. This is something I need to remind myself to do as that is another event I wish to see as soon as I can and if I get the chance to participate so much the better.

After winding down for an hour or so I went to watch my good friend Matt Panesh aka Monkey Poet in his one man show Shit Flinger. In a hour which combines poetry with comedy, and occasional mayhem Matt flings shit in whatever direction it needs to be flung and trust me this man doesn’t miss. His targets included The BNP and other far right political organisations, homophobes, obnoxious louts. As is always the case with Matt, he delivered a show which was both entertaining and thought provoking and in doing so, revealed a family secret. He would never tell his gran it was a long way to the shops.

After Matt’s show I went outside for some fresh air and who should I see but Wonder Woman. Yes folks I kid you not, I saw Wonder Woman outside the Banshee Labyrinth. I must admit though she did bear more than a passing resemblance to Sophia Blackwell who had opening night of her show Becoming inside the Banshee Labyrinth at 6.20 that evening.

This was a show I couldn’t miss and believe me I wasn’t going to, so after giving Sophia a big hug the kind of hug an auntie gives to her favourite niece, I asked if I could help her with her flyering. Naturally she said the word which was on all lapel badges in other words yes, and I got down to the serious business of helping her build an audience.

Now being involved in politics I am no stranger to flyering leafleting and giving folk the patter but if anyone thought I was mad when flyering for Sophia Walker on Tuesday then multiply that by 20 and I think you’ve got the picture. Anyway the show went brilliantly and Sophia showed no trace of first night nerves and really seemed to be buzzing in front of a decent sized crowd for a first night.
At the end of the show she gave a couple of shout out’s to those who mattered and much to my delight one of them was to me or Sophia as described me her Auntie Gayle.

After it was over Sophia and her partner treated me to an Irn Bru and for an hour so we had a very enjoyable chat about the things which mattered in life and I even got my picture taken with whilst she was still in her Wonder Woman outfit. Well when your Wonder Woman’s auntie you do have special powers or at least it feels like you do. I do have to say however I was relieved when she eventually went to the Ladies and changed in to something more normal. Well she looked good as Wonder Woman but she looked truly stunning in her red and black dress which would make any auntie beam with pride.

As Sophia and Helena moved on to somewhere else I decided to take in one last show which had the rather intriguing title of The Shipping Forecast. Now before any budding meteorologists amongst you get a wee bit excited I should perhaps explain that this highly entertaining show had nothing to do with the weather but was a spoken word night from Sheffield filled with pithy poems on a variety of topics and a merciless mickey take on stereotypical Spanish folk singers. Being an open mic night the compare asked if anyone wanted to take the stage and share a poem with the audience. Naturally I jumped at the chance and decided to perform one of mine. My poem of choice was Just A Little Bargain a humorous vignette on the topic of shopping. Much to my delight I received great feedback on it at the end of the show. With this my night concluded and made my way back to Glasgow.

As I boarded the bus it did feel great to heading home after a great day possibly my best ever day in 10 years of performing at the fringe. As I made myself comfortable I spotted my friend and fellow blogger Lisa Marie Ferla aka Last Year’s Girl. As we chatted on the journey home Lisa said she loved my blog because I tell it like it is, well according to my friend Stacey I can be a wee bit Outspoken at times though I have to say I prefer the term honest. Like Lisa said I just tell it like it like it is. Thanks to her entertaining chat the journey passed a lot quicker than it usually does indeed it passed so quickly I missed my stop and instead of getting off at Baillieston I had to journey all the way to Buchanan Street then walk all the way to the bottom end of the city centre before getting a number 2 bus and arriving in the village an hour later than I would have liked. However I have to say it never bothered me because I am Wonder Woman’s auntie and when your Wonder Woman’s auntie I think you can say you have the right to be a wee bit outspoken.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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