As you know I love good quality spoken word nights and one of the nights I enjoy attending whenever I can is that Well known Glasgow cultural institution known as Last Monday at Rio.
This is one of my favourite nights on the spoken word scene and is normally compared by the genial host that is Robin Cairns. This Monday however it was slightly different. With Robin busy with rehearsals for his upcoming Edinburgh show
it was left to David Forrest to host the night and I have to say David did a brilliant job in Robin’s absence.
Now circumstances have dictated that I tend to make it to Rio on a bimonthly basis. This however was a night I was determined to attend particularly as the featured act was my good friend Victoria McNulty and despite the transport system doing its best to put me off course I eventually got there albeit slightly later than planned.
As I arrived at around 8.45 and hadn’t put my name down to read at the event it is fair to say that I had little or no expectation of being called up to the mic. David Forrest, however had other ideas and asked me if I would like to read and he’s got such a good nature about him I couldn’t possibly refuse though I did say I was only reading one poem and due to issues which necessitated a change of glasses I said it would have to be a poem I could remember from memory.
On hearing this David asked me if I would do his favourite poem of mine which he said was the one about the Romanian’s. Suddenly my game plan of doing one of my shorter or more comic pieces such as Every Saturday Night, Karaoke Queen, or Just Little Bargain right out the window.
In the event I got up after the break and performed David’s choice in what was only my second ever performance at Rio despite this bring one of the most successful venues in Glasgow for the last decade or so. My debut performance it this venue was in March when I read Self Woman and Tonight I Wear A Mini Skirt.
I was one of my militant feminist moods when I made my Rio debut.
So why did take it me so long to perform at what is a well established night? Well the answer is a simple one when I could make it along which wasn’t as frequent as I would like I decided that since I hosted a night and still do and also performed at several others that this would be my night off. Rio if you would like be my night to relax and enjoy myself listening to quality poetry.
This is if you like how I had planned it to be on Monday a night of rest, relaxation, and culture. However circumstances, change and when the host of the event asks me to read it is an offer I am very unlikely to refuse. So as we reconvened after the bar break I took the mic and performed Twenty Four Romanians.
As for the performance itself let’s just say I believe I’ve performed better. This however was not an opinion shared by the audience many of whom are fellow poets who have seen perform my work on dozens or possibly hundreds of occasions over the years.
First up to give me their support were Kirsten McAlease , Alan McGlass, our headline act Victoria McNulty, and Janet Crawford, who all thought I had performed well I was later informed by Rita Bradd, and Finola Scott, as well as our brilliant featured act that this was best performance they had ever seen me perform. Indeed Finola said I was on fire and Victoria said she was proud of me as it was first time she seen me perform without the page.
Talking of Victoria it should come as no surprise to anyone that this highly talented poet delivered a brilliant set packed with poems which were both punchy and personal in which
topics included being in love with a Hibs fan, her grandfather her son, and her hero which for those who don’t know is Stone Roses front man Ian Brown.
As someone who is a great admirer of Victoria’s work I find it difficult to chose favourites but I think her poem Alba which is a tribute to her Irish ancestors and in my opinion one of the best pro independence poems ever written, her poem for her son, and Coffins From Derry in which expressed her support for refugees and displaced communities stand out the poems which speak most clearly to my heart.
At the end of her set our host said that he believed it was one of the best featured headline acts he had ever seen and I have to concur on that opinion. This is an authentic voice who speaks her truths her way and she tells those truths with honesty, sincerity, and passion.
So on a night in which due to transport issues I didn’t get to see as much as I would like , I can still say I saw an excellent headline act and my own performance went down better than I thought it would when I returned to from the stage to take my seat amongst the gathering.
Knowing Victoria well, I know that she is uncomfortable with praise. I think it’s a west of Scotland thing but I also think that poets and other creatives take any compliments with a shrug of the shoulders. This is not because we don’t like to be praised, of course we do, we’re poets it feeds our ego’s, but because, we are always looking for ways to improve all aspects our work be it written or performance and that I believe is as it should be. That said whether it be my opinion of Victoria or others, opinions of me, the positive praise from friends and fellow wordsmiths should maybe empower us to see that when we see ourselves as others see us we may get a pleasant surprise
Love And Best Wishes