When A Poet From The East Made Three Wise Choices.

Hey readers Unless you’re a poet or possibly musician you may not be aware just how many spoken word nights there are in Glasgow, or indeed Scotland. There are what my granny would would have called a guid fair few and I for one am grateful for it.

It therefore goes without saying that the run up to the festive season can be a hectic one for we spoken word types with so many events to attend this is especially true in the third week of December when it really does that with so places go you are literally meeting yourself on the road from one stop to the next.

With that in mind and a limited budget from which to operate I had to plan my Christmas schedule carefully and this meant missing out on some brilliant nights I would love to have been part of. There are other events which for so long were part of the Glasgow cultural  scene which now no longer exist like the Scotia Bar writers night and  Bards in the Park both of which contributed greatly to my development as a poet and performer.

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This is a picture of The Scotia Bar on a winter’s night brings back so many memories of great writers nights in a great pub with a truly unique atmosphere.

Talking of atmospheres this picture  taken in the winter of 2009  featuring Colin Storrie on guitar and Derek Read on
recorder illustrates better than other in my collection what Bards in The Park which took place in the Tollcross Park Winter Gardens and latterly in the meeting room in the Children’s Farm area of the park was all about. This informal gathering of friends and the odd acquaintance took place on the first Saturday of the month from 1 to 3.30 was the perfect place to read, rant, and relax and of course burst in to song when the occasion demanded and the perfect way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon.

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Anyway, that’s enough of what was it’s time to focus on what’s happening now and why a poet from the East well I do live in the east end of Glasgow made three wise choices for her Christmas
poetry selection box.

The first two of those choices were made on Thursday when I spent the afternoon at the Tinsel tales event at the Gallery of Modern Art. This is an annual event held by The Federation of Writers Scotland on the closest Thursday to Christmas unless that Thursday is either the 23rd or Christmas Eve and has become one of my must attend gigs of the festive season.  After the Federation event at GoMA   I journeyed to the heart of Glasgow where the Merchant City meets the Gallowgate to McChuills Bar for Fail Better. This is an event I had always meant to make but never quite got round to and I have to say I really enjoyed it. However I’ll speak more about Fail Better later in the post for now at least let’s take a trip back to the events of last Thursday afternoon and an afternoon of Tinsel Tales.

Though the event started at 2 o’clock I didn’t arrive until 3 as I knew that the first hour would be taken up with the Word Play which I didn’t want to see as I was going to see it the following day at the   Kelvin Hall so I arrived as the clock struck three. In what was a busy but enjoyable afternoon I was treated to some excellent performances from among others A C Clarke, Ann Connolly, Peter Russell and pictured below whose Sceptics Christmas was one of the highlights of the day in my opinion

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I also loved the work of Stephen Watt but then I always do and though his poem Rolling R’s may not have been the most festive of the afternoon it was certainly one of the best. When my turn came I entertained the crowd with my customary Christmas poems Christmas At Carols, Stocking Thrillers, and Christmas Lies, well I always seem to get the job of injecting humour in to the proceedings. Below is a picture of me taken on the day.
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After the break it was the turn of Brian Whittingham to remind to remind why he was the outgoing makar before handing over the shield and the title his successor Elizabeth Rimmer. pictured below

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In a set which reminded of why we chose him, Brian read out poems about growing up with a Scottish father and a German mother and the different ways they looked at Christmas. He also read out a series of poems on buskers on Buchanan Street.

On succeeding him Elizabeth who I think is a brilliant choice for maker , read a powerful passionate and thought provoking set in which she showed exactly why she had been given the honour reading poems on the environment, nature, and the Irish Community who set sail for America in the 1870’s. This last topic which provided the first poem of her set may to some at least have been slightly controversial but in my opinion this was not only the best poem of her set but also by far the best of the day.

Later that night I had the great privilege of attending the Fail Better event at McChuills. This was a fantastic night of fast paced spoken word with rapid fire rhymes of the highest calibre coming from Cat Hepburn pictured below
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who told us with purpose and passion why she hates Christmas, Tickle whose takes on coke cola and getting his dinner from the chip shop left me feeling both breathless and hungry and that erudite man of words Mark McGhee whose focused political polemics show a poet who really knows who to target and how to put his message across and I have to say that Empire Biscuits which to me was the highlight of an excellent set is a great example of this kind of cutting edge poetry.

The final choice of event was three days later on what should have been a quiet Sunday afternoon. However this is me and I don’t do quiet Sundays, well not by choice anyway, so on this the last Sunday before Christmas I went to Stereo to experience festive frolics at the Rally And Broad Christmas Party hosted in their own unique style by Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum. (pictured below with Jim Monaghan) For those who may not know Jim is one the centre though to be fair the seating arrangements confused him as he is usually the man on the left.

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As I arrived slightly later than planned I missed these three gifted poets performing their individual sets, I did however, arrive to find the poets playing a Christmas game based on cards against humanity. In this version poets against humanity Rachel, Jim and Jenny went up to the mic to perform one of their poems to see it being ripped apart by the other team members with some razor sharp ad-libs in the most unusual of places. On completion of this game, we were then treated to an alternative musical version of the 12 days of Christmas which was both lively and entertaining as well as being extremely challenging for participants who had to think on their feet. At the end of this game it was time for another short break before the brilliant Teen Canteen ( pictured below)gave the audience a sensational 20 minute to conclude a fantastic afternoon of entertainment
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At the end of their set and indeed the day, I went over to chat the band to let them know they had gained a new fan. So you can imagine my shock not to say delight when the band’s lead singer Carla said she had seen me perform
my poetry before and really enjoyed my poem Karaoke Queen which she said was brilliant. Now as regular readers of tartantights will know there are not many occasions which leave me speechless but I think this just might have been one of them. It truly was the perfect way to end what was not only a fantastic Sunday afternoon but a week in which a poet from the East made some very wise choices and experienced the magic of spoken word poetry in all its glorious forms.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

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