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When Women Of A Certain Age Decide To Get Fierce The Golden Girls Can Really Rock The Mic. 

​Due to an unforseen accident in the last Wednesday of April, It’s fair to  say that May was a quieter month than usual in my poetry calendar. Indeed I had to postpone my own event due to a badly sprdined ankle.

This meant  there was no Words And Music at the Tin Hut on the first Tuesday of the month. I also missed cracking nights at Fail Better, Extra Second,  Express Yourself, and Last Monday At  Waterstones. In fact the only event I made in the whole of May was on the second Sunday of the month when I captained the over 40’s team in the four  ages slam at the Tron Theatre 

 This was an afternoon which I simply had to attend comes as 0ou I was  chosen by the host and organiser of the event Robin Cairns to captain the team for my spoken word demographic but also the fact that it was my first journey outside Baillieston since injuring my ankle at the tail end of last month Since I was still a bit shaky in the terms of my movement I got taxi’s to and from the venue well it made more sense than going for a bus and potentially making things worse. 

Having been made captain, I had to select my team for the events in which we would be doing battle with the teams representing teenagers twenty something’s and thirty something’s and with an emvarrasnent of  riches to choose from I made a few tentative enquires as to who may or may not be available for selection. Eventually I settled on my choices and in Angela Strachan and Lesley Traynor I knew I had chosen well, whether we would would be able to take on and beat the other teams would be as it is in all slams in the lap of the gods, the aududnce, and the judges.

I arrived early for the big event and was quickly joined by rival team captain and close friend Victoria McNulty who since she was taking a social media break had not heard of my recent accident. As we chatted I told her that this was only the second time I’d left the house since it happened and the other occasion was to cast my vote in the local elections. Eventually I was was joined by my team mates and other competitors including fellow team captains Carla Woodburn , Matt MacDonald. As kick off time drew ever closer we went through to the Victorian Bar took our seats on the stage and waited for the battle to  begin. The rules of the competition were simple all poets would perform twice in a round robin fashion and the two highest scoring teams after the two rounds  would progress through to the final to compete for the title of the Four Ages Slam Champions 

After the prelimaries like deciding  on team names and  the running order,  we were treated to a sacrificial poem from one of our judges Brighton based poet Deborah Martin. Sacrifice made It was time to start the competition and it  was the Young Team who were first to the mic as Aidan Rivett opened the slam with his take on Karaoke.One by one the  poets made our way to the mic when it came to our turn to put our first poem out there I decided to take a captain’s responsibility and lead from the front as I performed Jewel Of The Clyde in which I looked back the impact of Glasgow’s year as city of culture on both the politics and culture of our cityThis being my first ever team slam though I have competed in and judged individual ones, I was understandably nervous as I didn’t want to let Angela or Lesley down so I was glad to get it out of the way and get back to my seat. 

On a day when we played to what was a predominantly non poetry audience who had paid £7 for the privilege of seeing us I think we saw the poetry community at it’s best and those gathered  heard poems on a wide range of topic including domestic violence ( Victoria McNulty) family from both (Adam V Cheshire and Moki , male anger Loki, Sex and taming the bad guy Lesley Traynor with her hilarious take on the big bad wolf, nightclubs, me (lost the plot,) and Aidan Rivett , facebook friendships, Jess Smith , shopping and the perils of giving up  smoking (Angela Strachan) and the dangers of swallowing spiders  from Carla Woodburn. 

At the end of the second round of  poems it was four quality teams who waited for their fate to be decided by the judges two of whom would be judging every poem but the third judge was a different story as this was a different member of the audience for every poem and I must admit I rather liked the idea of what I call poetry democracy in action.

As we waited for the judges decisions I talked tactics with my team to decide what poems to perform if we made it through and also I had to consider who would be placed where in the running order. I took a captain’s decision that should we get through I would be going first , Lesley would follow me and Angela, would be our final poet standing. Eventually , the judges made their decision and we had qualified for the final where we would pit our wits against the young team. It was set up as the classic final a battle of youth against experience. 

Having lost the toss it was the young team who went up first then it was my turn to step up to the mic and I performed one of the few poems I know well enough not to need a paper copy or my phone  and when Karaoke Queen got a maximum score of 10 from the audience member I knew I had played my part to the best of my ability. 

One by one we took our turn at the mic and when Lesley performed her poem my sister sleeps I thought we had grounds for optimism and then finally it was Angela who went all out for glory to prove that the so-called oldies can be Goldie’s and believe me The Queen Of Modern Suburbia didn’t let us down.Now having done all we could do it was two nervous teams who awaited the decision of the judges 

Eventually, they made their call and much to my delight they called it for us. The wise ones had  won the day and our all female team had proven that when Women of a certain age decide to get fierce the golden girls can really rock the mic. 

Till next time 

Gayle X

When Company And Camaraderie Are Mixed With Compassion It Really Is Something To Celebrate. 

As regular readers will know I love a good night out so when I recently had the chance to attend two in the space of two days I grabbed both opportunities  and enjoyed two excellent evening of quality entertainment as a result  

The first of these events was my was on the Monday of that week when I made my long overdue debut at the Aloud spoken word night which is held in the salubrious surroundings of Jim’s Bar in Glasgow University’s Queen Margaret Union. As is often the case at spoken word events I performed a set of my poems but since this was my first time at Aloud I thought I would mix it up and include some trans related comedy. This was better received than I could have hoped for and gave me the encouragement I needed to develop it further through to be  honest I think the fact that it was a mainly female audience, helped considerably as they tended to understand why my material contained references to chocolate mammograms, and vibrators.

 The next night saw me change roles from performer to audience member as I attended a traditional music concert at the Star Club in the Admiral Bar in aid of The Beetson Cancer Charity which was organised by Eric Grant. Though these were very different nights I enjoyed them both very different reasons and have posted photographs from  each event to let you know why 

Picture (1) Is the first from Aloud which was celebrating its third birthday on the night I made my debut. As at all good parties the first person you see is the host and who better to host a party than the gabby , brilliant , and highly lovable Shannon McGregor. 

Picture (2) Shows the perfect party guest as Molly Frawley shares her considerable poetic talents with a crowd who were happy to listen to her words.

Picture (3) This is one party goer you’ll never find in the kitchen. Like myself , he prefers a stage to share his talents. He is Aloud regular and all round good guy Ross McFarlane 

Picture (4) Shows a picture of someone who is rapidly emerging as one of my favourite poets on the spoken word scene Jade Mitchell. Jade is an amazing talent who really speaks from the heart and her poem Girls is one of the poems I’ve heard for a very long time.  

Picture (5) Takes me from performer to audience member as I listen to the music at The Star Club. in the relaxed atmosphere of The Admiral Bar. The event which featured the superb vocal talents of father and daughter Eric and Eilidh Grant and many of their random connections of friends from the folk music community was organised by Eric on behalf the Beatson Cancer Charity. This shot shows one of those connections Dave Gibb belting out some songs to a highly appreciative audience. 

Picture (6) Shows Eric ,with Dave Gibb, and Fraser Speirs on tin whistle. 

Picture (7) Shows Eric and Eilidh doing what they do best and that of course, is sharing their music with those who want to hear it.  

Picture (8) Is the final picture of what was a highly enjoyable, and successful night raising over £2,000 for the Beetson thanks to Eric , Eilidh , and their random connections. It is on nights like this and indeed Aloud that we see the triumph of the human spirit at its finest. 

The fact I share this post in the light of the events of last Wednesday is no accident. I refuse to let circumstances no matter how challenging or adverse they may be, stop me from enjoying my life,and I believe this belief is shared by people throughout Scotland , Britain, and the world. You see, I was worried last Wednesday. I was worried for SNP MP’s who I as a party member know and call friends. I was worried for honourable members of all parties even those I profoundly disagree with. I was worried for the many poets, and performers I know who are based in London or call it home and yes I was relieved when one by one I heard on social media they were safe.  However, as the photographs in this,post show, I celebrate my life with every day I’m given. I cherish the friendships I’ve made and every experience I’ve has helped to shape the woman I’ve become and believe me that is a woman who enjoys mixing and mingling with others. Yes I really like people, and it’s occasions like these with friends and good companions that remind me why.  

On two successive nights and in two very different capacities I shared company and camaraderie and when that is mixed with compassion we see the very best of humanity and that really is something to celebrate 

Love And Best Wishes.

Gayle X 

On The Night A Piper Played To Win Scotland Found A Champion

Hey Readers

On a dark Saturday night in the cold of a Scottish winter I made my way to the Tron Theatre to enjoy a top quality night of spoken word poetry as I attended the 2017 Scottish poetry slam championship final.

This is always one of my favourite nights of the year as Scotland’s premier poetic talents battle it out for the prestige of being Scotland’s national slam champion and the honour of representing their country in the poetry slam world series in Paris later in the year

As expected the Tron was packed to capacity for such an important cultural occasion and all stars of the Scottish spoken word scene including this blogger were out in force to support those judged throughout the year to be the cream of this year’s crop. Amongst those I chatted to was Jane Overton who was one of the judges for the event. I also had a quick word with David Forrest who like myself was there to enjoy the evening, and other audience members Kevin Cadwallender, Anna Crow, Janet Crawford, Lesley Traynor , and Shannon McGregor. Amongst the contenders I had early chats with Katharine McFarlane, Lloyd Robinson, Matt MacDonald, Molly McLachlan and Victoria McNulty and wished them well for the night ahead.

As tradition dictates the event was compared by the maestro Mr Robin Cairns who brought the occasion to us as only he knows how. After revealing that there would be two abaebtees from the list Robin took nominations from poets in the audience for a wild card entry and though a few poets themselves forward such as Jade Mitchell, and Shannon McGregor it was Ben Rogers whose name was pulled out of the hat and in to the slam.

In the first round, the poets were drawn in to four groups of four competitors each with two from each group going through to the second round and three (well that was the plan )going through to the final where the eventual winner would be declared Scottish Poetry Slam Champion 2017

As the draw was made we were all hoping that our choice or choices would make the final. For the record this totally unbiased blogger was trying her best to remain as neutral as possible , but even I have favourites though I’m not going to say who they are. Well I get on well with all the poets in the final so I’m not going to name any names as to who I may or may not have been supporting.

In an excellent first heat  we heard work of outstanding quality from Elise Hadgraft on Homelessness Aiden Rivet and his Wonderwall poem Daniel Piper and his cleverly crafted poem DJ Veg. This was followed by Max Sratchman whose poem on how a woman’s quest for love could have been filled by a Down’s syndrome baby she chose not to have tugged at more than a few heartstrings, and believe me this group set the standard for the other contestants to follow.

When we did get in to the second group there were yet more stunning performances. These came most notably from Katharine MacFarlane whose poem on her sister’s very traumatic rape and the ordeal which followed and now makes her fearful  as a mother with a daughter of her own This poem was so powerful that it blew the Richter scale to bits, and Lay La Josephine whose poem I Think She Was A She gave a very powerful and passionate portrayal of the way women who have abortions are made to feel guilty by a society in which these issues are not talked about as openly as they should be. It should also be noted that Molly McLachlan was in this group as was wildcard entry  Ben Rogers and I thought Molly who was the only contestant to get the hooter in the opening round performed well in this company. However , and I’m only saying because I love Molly to bits, it is my opinion she started her poem too slowly and in such a tight group the marks I’m sure it cost her illustrates how difficult competing at the top level really is especially when I believe there could be less than 10 points between those who qualified for the semi finals and those who missed out.

The third group was kicked off by Victoria McNulty whose poem Coffins From Derry is in my opinion a very strong piece in support of refugees in which McNulty draws on her own Irish heritage and the hostility towards the early Irish immigrants to demonstrate why as someone whose blood as she says ‘ is cut from refugees ‘ supports those she describes in the final line of poem as ‘ the displaced people residing in Scotland today ‘ Next up was the excellent Bibi June with her entertaining and thought provoking poem Simon Says . This poem was funny and disturbing in equal measure and demonstrates just how easily sheep can be led to whatever pen the establishment want to go to with alarming ease.

Hamish MacDonald’s poem Ma Bit focused strongly on tensions between rival communities both local and global and real and imagined as it explored the potential for conflict that territorial geographies can and do provide where borders are contested. Ellen Renton performed a thoughtful and considered poem on her love for both Glasgow and Edinburgh in which she produced the line of the night with the words ‘ I can still belong to Glasgow with my heart in Midlothian. This in my book was absolute genius and poetic imagery at its brilliant best. It was a wonderful way to conclude what I believe was the toughest group of all the first round qualifiers.

It was Matt MacDonald who will be February’s featured writer at Words and Music who kicked off the final qualifying group with his poem Fibonacci. Matt was followed by the pint sized pocket rocket that is the brilliant Hannah Raymond Cox. After Hannah it was time for the penultimate performer in the first round and Jack McMillan was climbing the ladder of spoken word success and finally Lloyd Robinson brought the first round to a close with his poetic take on those right wingers who voted for Brexit with I’m Ready To Stop Being English. This was a real crowd pleaser as the anti Brexit sentiment went down very well with the predominately West of Scotland audience.

As we headed for a well deserved bar break everyone had our own mental list of who we thought would qualify for semi finals but only the judges would make that decision and I for one didn’t envy Andy Jackson, George Miller, Jane Overton one little bit. 

As we reconvened after the break Robin gave us the results of the judges deliberations and it’s fair to say that for some members of the audience there were a couple of surprises amongst the qualifiers. I have to say however that I called most of them right, well 7 out of 8 isn’t bad by anyone’s standards and yes I did see hurricane Hannah qualifying from the final group because I’ve performed with Hannah at Other Voices and know how good she actually is. Trust me Hannah, is one of the best performers you will ever see on a poetry stage and I’m not understating the case when I say that she a talent ten times the size of herself.

As the semi finalists were announced we managed to get what very few political cabinets ever do the perfect gender balance of four male and female qualifiers. As the draw was made, you would have been given more than decent odds on the two heats being exclusively single sex but that is exactly how it turned out with the first heat being all female and the second heat all male. Now I can’t prove it, but it is my educated guess that the minute the judges saw these single sex battles was also the minute they decided to up the number of finalists from three to four.

In the first heat it was the turn of the girls to spice up the night and believe me they did exactly that with some truly mesmerising poetry as all four poets were outstanding and produced the kind of work which made me proud to have heard it. As for calling it I thought Katharine was a certainty for the final with her poem Bonnie Scotland speaking to my rebel heart in the gentlest and most passionate of ways.

As for the others I changed my mind at least half a dozen times before giving the nod to Hannah Raymond Cox for her poem The Revolution Will Be Televised. This poem shows why I rate Hannah as highly as I do as it combined wit and warmth in such a newsy style I thought I was being patronised by the BBC.

As for the boys to me only Lloyd whose poem Jump written on the theme of suicide was met with the kind of silence a poet only gets when you know the audience have really listened to every word was a safe bet for the final. As for the others Ben , Daniel, and Hamish’s were all quality poems but I struggled to call second place though I did eventually decide for Hamish, but as I said I wasn’t in the judge’s seat and it was up those who were to give there decision and as we waited expectantly for their decision we were entertained superbly as Robin performed a poem from his extensive and varied catalogue

With tension building and the excitement palpable the judges handed their findings to our host who announced that it was going to be a final four and not a final three as originally planned. After making the announcement Robin named the finalists as Katharine MacFarlane , Elise Hadgraft, Lloyd Robinson, and Daniel Piper. On the night of all nights the audience were ready for our finalists to do battle one last time to decide who would be crowned Scottish Slam Champion 2017

And so as we started what was going to be a cracking final it was Daniel Piper who was first up with a poem on rave culture which used humour to explore a potentially challenging issue.

Daniel was followed by Katharine MacFarlane whose poem on her the use of language and its power to value or devalue people really spoke to my heart. I say this not only as a trans woman but also as a former equality trainer who used to have a section on language use in every course I ever delivered. I love this poem and the fact that it was written for her daughter adds to the power of a fantastic thought provoking poem which contained many examples of wonderful imagery which is the trademark of this gifted poet.

As Katharine left the stage our penultimate poet of this year’s slam to make her case for victory and believe me Elise Hadgraft delivered her best poem of the night right on cue and the brilliantly titled I Want To Wear Your Clothes showed that this is a poet with serious talent whose use of suggestion as intimacy was in my view an absolute masterstroke in a poem which spanned a range of emotions including love, lust, and a liberal sprinkling of humour and made her a genuine contender for the title. 

So it fell to Lloyd Robinson to be the final contender in this year’s final and yet again Lloyd delivered an excellent poem on the theme of suicide which was well received by an appreciative audience who gave all competitors the respect they deserved on such an important occasion. Now having done all they could do the fate of our final four lay in the hands of the judges and finally the decision was reached. In my heart I had called it for Katharine but alas this night was not to be hers.

As Robin announced the result I held my breathe in expectation. As is the case in Strictly and other important events the verdict was given in reverse order. So at the end of great night for Scottish poetry 4th place went to Lloyd Robinson with Katharine MacFarlane in 3rd. Our runner up was Elise Hadgraft which meant our new Scottish Slam Champion was Daniel Piper and it is Daniel who will take with him the good wishes of everyone involved in the Scottish spoken word scene as he goes to Paris as our representative in the world series in May.

I make this point because if there is one thing the Scottish spoken word community is good at it is supporting each other when it really matters and trust me this matters. We want our champion to be the best in the world and I’m sure Daniel will do us proud.

As the end of the evening a number of us both audience members and performers including Anna Crow, Aiden Rivet, Hamish MacDonald, Heather Duffy, Lay La, and Molly McLachlan, and of course Daniel enjoyed a post event drink in the salubrious surroundings of the Tron Bar. As I chatted to our newly crowned champion, Daniel said he felt a wee bit guilty about winning the title since he only moved up to Scotland at the end of last year and won the very last slam before the cut off date.

On hearing this very honest opinion, I replied that he didn’t need to feel guilty about anything as the only people in the position to deliver a verdict were the judges and there decision was that his poetry suited Scotland just fine. In fact what they really decided was that on the night a Piper played to win Scotland found a champion.

Congratulations Daniel Piper Scottish Poetry Slam Champion 2017.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Dinners Dugs And Poetry Nights With Friends In Familiar Surroundings.

Hey Readers.

Welcome to my photographic review of September. As you would expect it was a wee bit quieter than August but I still managed to have a reasonably busy month and as this review proves it certainly didn’t lack variety.

Picture (1) Is taken at our monthly  Words And Music night at the Tin Hut and what better way to kick off the month than with an action shot of club stalwart Suzanne Egerton.

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Picture (2) is another from the September Words and Music. This time is shows Pete Faulkner making his long awaited debut at the Tin Hut.

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Picture (3) Shows another Pete this time it’s our featured writer Peter Russell whose  taking centre stage with debut girl Angela Strachan looking on.

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Picture (4) Is our last from this particular section and features one of the most promising young talents in the spoken word scene Molly McLachlan who like Angela Strachan and our featured writer Peter Russell was making her Words and Music debut and to say she was breathtakingly brilliant would I think be understating the impact she had on an evening which though low in numbers was very high in quality.

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Picture (5) This picture was taken at at a night I was privilged  to be part of  As the  West of Scotland’s creative community  came together at Fail Better to raise money for refugees in Palestine. In this shot  Francis Lopez is snapped providing some music for the company. 

Picture (6) This shot captures Scotland’s very own pocket dynamo Victoria McNulty rocking the audience with a brilliant set which included the fabulous Coffins From Derry a poem written in support of the displaced people residing in Scotland 

Picture (7) Sees Carla Woodburn perform for the cause.At the time of writing this review Carla is coming to the end of her holiday in Peru but on the night in question like all of us her heart was touched by the stories of horror which are happening  to the people of Palestine 

Picture (8)  Shows Declan Welch in storytelling mode as he tells us first hand of his recent trip to the West Bank and what he witnessed during his visit before entertaining us with his bitingly brilliant brand of music.

Picture (9) On my first night back at the Blue Chair after my adventures in Edinburgh I noticed a couple of friendly faces in the gathering in the shape of our very own Becca and Grace.

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Picture 10 This picture provides evidence that some poets do actually prepare our sets at least a few minutes in advance as I lay nine on the table ready for reading later. image

Picture (11) Shows that it was a lovely sunny Saturday as those of us who wanted a better  Scotland gathered in George Square for the Hope Over Fear rally. In this picture you can see the internationalist vision of the marchers who fly not only the Blue and White saltaire of our nation but also flags of other small nations who wish to have the right to govern themselves such as Palestine and  Catlonia 

Picture 12 Captures the spirit of what this family friendly festival is all about as friends from all over Scotland meet up and share the craic

In Picture (13) the focus moves indoors as I travel from the city centre to the west end and I’m seated for dinner in the luxurious surroundings, of the Polish club where I enjoyed a fantastic reunion meal with a selected group of friends including Steve Allan sitting directly opposite me, Donna Campbell, and Hazel Frew who organised the gathering to celebrate the life of the late Scottish poet, storyteller, and musician Sandy Hutchinson who was a great friend to every one of us.

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Picture 14 Is a  picture of my starter which is one of the best bowls of soup I’ve ever tasted. Honestly Polish style Beef Broth is absolutely delicious.

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Picture (15 ) Sees Christy Williamson read a one of Sandy poems as his tribute to our much loved friend 

Picture (16) Illustrates that poets will always find to time to chat. Here Eveline Pye and Tracy Patrick seated diagonally across from her share a story with Alan Falconer listening intently. 

Picture (17) It was time to tuck in to my main course and the Pork Chop and Chips were so tasty not to mention filling that I didn’t have room for dessert. 

Picture (18) Shows Hazel Frew who suggested the idea of the reunion. We have a lot to thank her for.

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Picture (19) Was taken at the bikers for yes rally on the second anniversary of our independence referendum and features one man and his dug. The man in question is Paul Kavanagh and the dug is of course the wee ginger dug from which his blog gets its name. It was really good to meet Paul in the flesh and put a face to the name especially since he was the first blogger ever to give me a guest post the run up to the 2014 referendum.

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Picture 20 Shows singer/ songwriter Gavin Paterson belting out tunes to warm the heart of yes voters on what was unfortunately a dull and wet afternoon. This however didn’t seem to bother Gavin or the crowd whose spirits were were lifted by this talented musician 

Picture (21) This picture only goes to show that Lord Robertson doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about when it cones to independence, culture or for that matter anything else. You see according to the noble Lord independece supporters are Anti English and Scotland doesn’t have any culture. So bearing that in mind allow me introduce two members of the cultural wing of the yes family. This dynamic duo are English born musician Pauline Bradley and the poetic voice of Radical Renfrewshire Shaun Moore. 

Picture (22) This picture captures a woman with a heart for Scotland and one of key organisers of this highly successful event the lovely Kirsten Storrie. 

Picture (23) Our next few pictures were taken on a night out in Paisley. Yes I know it’s not where you would imagine spending a Monday night however when I was offered the chance to perform at the Paisley Women For Independence spoken word event I decided that Paisley on a Monday night might not be such a bad choice after all and as if to prove I was right one of the first familiar faces I met was the talented local poet Rashelle Reid 

Picture (24) Some of the women sit by the flag we are proud to call our own.

Picture (25) As you can I see from this picture I wasn’t slow at the taking the mic and sharing my words of wisdom. On this occasion my poems of choice were A Woman’s Voice on the importance of women using our right to vote and A Personal Vow in which I give both Gordon Brown and Johann Lamont more character than they were ever blessed with and vow to make Scotland independent and make people matter. 

Picture (26)  Sees Kathryn Metcalfe entertaining the crowd with a heart warming and thought provoking story about the woman shaped her values and believe me on hearing her story I’m sure her mother would be proud of the daughter she raised.  

Picture (27) All girls together for a group photograph which shows independent women of principal passion and power. 

Picture (28). Shows me posing for the camera in an outfit which some of you may recognise from a previous outfit of the day post. 

For Picture (29 ) We’ve move from Paisley to the Drygate Bar at the east end of the Merchant City where the lovely genius that is the wonderful Cat Hepburn is happy to smile for the camera as she prepares for the start of the first ever Sonnet Youth Slam at the monthly night which she co-hosts with Kevin Gilday.

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Picture (30) The Sonnet Youth slam was an amazing night of poetry and represented the power of spoken word at its very best. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges at this amazing event in which Elaine Gallagher (pictured below) was given my highest individual score of any contestant on the night for her brilliant second round poem.

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Picture (31) Shows the poet who was runner up on a highly enjoyable and entertaining evening. I’m so proud to call this amazingly talented woman my fierce sister and friend she is the majestic Katharine MacFarlane

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Picture (32) For my picture in this review I travel to the West End of the city to Cafe Rio for the madness and mayhem that is Last Monday at Rio. This is always a quality night of spoken words and our host Robin Cairns always ensures we have a top quality headliner on this occasion that headliner was Katie Ailes who can be seen here performing her powerful passionate poetry to a very appreciative audience.

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So that was my September. At first glance it may appear to have been a wee bit quieter than August though to be honest if you’re a poet most months are quieter than August and there were more than enough events to keep me occupied and make sure I had plenty to blog about.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

In A Busy Month For Poets Filled With Festivals And Fringes I Made Fierce Friends And Partied On Wherever Words Were Spoken 

Hey  Readers 

I’m two thirds of the way through October and I’m finally ready to post my photographic journey through August. Yes I know its late, this is late even by my standards but you see though I often claim to be a lady of leisure this isn’t strictly true as  I attend so many events these days that I quite often meet myself coming back and this is why there has been such a delay in putting this post together.  Well that’s my excuse and I’m damn well sticking to it as it happens to be at least 90percent true. 
Anyway I hope your getting ready for a rollercoaster ride because believe me this is a journey well worth sharing and like all or at least most of my journies it starts and ends in Glasgow though I will concede that for this month at least most of the action took place in a city 50 miles to the East and yes I do mean Edinburgh. However, as is almost always going to be the case our story starts on a Tuesday night on the south side of Glasgow in a place that’s made for Words and Music 

Picture (1) In what is the busiest month of the year for us poets is taken at Words and Music where featured writer Victoria McNulty held court entertaining a small but select gathering

Picture (2) is of Bob Leslie who provided the music for the company on that early August evening.

Picture (3) takes me on the the first of many visits to Edinburgh. The venue is the salubrious surroundings of the Merlin Hotel for the Pick Of The Fringe night organised by Rose Ritchie. Here you can see Rose on the right with Michelle Hogg belting out a song to the highly receptive audience.

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Picture (4) This sees us at the Scottish Poetry Library where the amazing Katharine MacFarlane was a joy to behold at the Women with fierce words event.

Picture 5 Is one you could makar up as current Federation of Writers Scotland makar Elizabeth Rimmer imparts her words of wisdom to the gathering.

Picture (6)  Sees me reading my poem The Lemon Dress on the topic of transformation

Picture (7) We were fierce, female and fabulous and we were prepared to shout it from the rooftops and here’s the evidence to prove it as Katharine and I show what it’s like to be on the top of the world or at least the Poetry library with Nancy Lippold Ingram smiling in the background.

Picture (8) By this time the fierce women had left the poetry library and were enjoying each other’s company over a coffee in the local Starbucks.This picture shows from left to right  Rose, Michelle, and the otganiser of the event Lesley Traynor

Picture (9) This is possibly the best action shot I’ve taken so far as Carla Woodburn has her warrior moment as she performs a poem from her phone.

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Picture (10) Shows a poet I always look forward to seeing and not just for his poetry but I also enjoy the company of  David Lee Morgan as this is a man who always has interesting stories to share. Here I capture the man outside the place I call home at every Edinburgh fringe the Banshee Laberinyth.

In Picture (11) The girls are banging the drum for Glasgow and who better to do it than Sheboom, Glasgow’s finest all female drumming band who had been playing at the Merchant City festival earlier that morning

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In Picture (12) I’m in political mode as I attend the campaign launch of Tommy Sheppard’s bid to become Depute Leader of the SNP. This picture shows me smiling for the camera with the candidate I am proud to have supported.

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Picture (13) Shows me bargain hunting at River Island which is one of my favourite fashion Festival

Picture (14)  was taken at the indoor market at the Merchant City Festival at the indoor market and showcases some of the amazing jewellery on offer at very reasonable prices.

Picture (15) Was also taken at the indoor market and contains the best advice anyone can ever be given. If you look really closely you will see it written in pink.

Picture (16) Shows me standing at the entry to my home in my new dress from Logo and if any bloggers reading this post think you recognise the dress you would be right as I have since featured it in an outfit of the day post.

Picture (17) features James Christopher whose one man show What’s The Tory Mourning Glory? took a very witty and topical look at the fiasco surrounding Brexit.

Picture (18) reminds me that I’ll always make time to for music especially when the music is provided by one of my favourite musicians the lovely Josephine Sillars in salubrious surroundings of the Gin Bar.

Picture (19) Sees me tired but happy as I make my way down the North Bridge to get the late night bus from Edinburgh back home to a very sleepy Baillieston. Well it was sleepy by the time I finally got back to the village.

Picture (20)  Demonstrates that the more things change the more they stay the same as I make my annual visit to see my good friend Matt Panesh aka Monkey Poet entertain the audience in the Cinema Room in the Banshee Laberinyth.

Picture (21) Shows the lovely Catriona Knapman performing poems from the heart at the Merlin Hotel at part of the pick of the fringe event.

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Picture (22) sees us back at the Banshee for some early evening entertainment in the company of David Lee Morgan

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Picture (23) Shows that Every girl loves her girl cave and on a wet and windy Friday night the girlie comedy of Harriet Kelmsley seen here really was just the tonic I needed.

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Picture 24 Takes me yet again to the Banshee or as I prefer to call it my Edinburgh home as I attend a show which shows no topic is off limits as the brilliant Chella Quint talks periods in a most unusual way. Now I know you might not think that this is a topic for a comedy show but this is an educational comedy show as Chella takes us through Adventures In Mensuration.

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Picture (25) Is the sign that all performers want to see on the venue door before they start the show.

Picture (26) Shows the best poetic fitness instructor on the planet Katharine MacFarlane in her show Home Words. It was during this show I learnt of the ancient Scottish tradition of Waulking and the lovable if slightly mischievous Katharine made sure I learned of it the hard way along  with fellow fierce woman Emma Mooney, and Janet Crawford as we tried this traditional job and reached the conclusion that the women of the Highlands and Islands would never need to go the gym after such heavy manual labour.

(Picture 27) Is of yet another poet Tyrone Lewis. (Yes I know a lot of them) This was taken on a lovely Sunday when I went to the Pilgrim Bar just across the road from the Banshee (The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree) for an event which I’m sure which will keep pulling me back every year from now on. Poetry at the Boomerang Club was an excellent way to spend an hour and I even managed to perform one of my poems (Two Hours) on my first of two visits I made to this night.

Picture (28) Sees  me back at the Cinema Room at the Banshee for some late night comedy from Kane Brown 

Picture (29) Sees me back on home turf attending the launch of Verse Clique Glasgow’s newest spoken word night which is hosted by one of the most exciting new talents in years the highly likable Michelle Fisher.

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Picture (30) Shows the amazing Hollie McNish rocking the opening night at Verse Cliqueimage

Picture (31) Sees Jenny Lindsay performing Verse Clique on what was a spectacular opening bill.
and a great night for Scottish poetry

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Picture (32) Mark McGhee and his band the Giro Babies supply the music to provide a fitting finale for the first ever Verse Clique. Michelle Fisher should be very proud she put on such a fantastic night.

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Picture (33) Every year there is one show you need to see twice and this year it was Chella Quint’s Adventures In Mensuration. This picture was taken on my second visit to the show and shows me embracing the stain for every girl whose ever had a difficult period.

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Picture 34 Shows a poet at work as Jenni Pascoe inspired by the muse suddenly decides to get writing.

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Picture 35  Captures my friend and fellow poet Andy Bennett in thoughtful mood as he muses over the fringe in that part of the Banshee which will forever be his office. 

Picture 36 Shows the wonderful Tina Seiderholme during her final performance of her show Till Debt Do Us Part.

Picture (37) This picture sums up what the fringe is all about to me. The wee stage in the banqueting hall is where I have made more appreances that any other venue except for the poetry library and the majority of those appearances have been at Other Voices cabaret. This groundbreaking event gives a voice to those who are traditionally underrepresented in mainstream poetry such as members of the LGBTIQ community, disabled people, people of minority ethnic groups, and women. Superbly hosted by the brilliant Fay Roberts, this is an event I am so proud to play my part in and it is also a place  where I have taken risks and made friends I know I’ll have for the rest of my life. 

Picture (38) is for the woman I call boss and I mean that in the nicest possible way as it shows the wonderful Fay Roberts doing what she does best performing at other voices. 

Picture (39)  This picture is of a poet will never need Permission to read her thought provoking poetry and that’s why I love Hannah Chutzpah.

Picture (40) This is the face of poetry’s future and her name is Malaika Kegode 

Picture (41) is of a power packed poem who performs with passion and pride that poet is Katherine McMahon 

Picture (42) Demonstrates as if there were ever a doubt that can’t visit Edinburgh without doing the tourist bit and if ever a shop summed up Scotland it’s this one. 

Picture 43 Shows a view of Scotland’s seat of power  Edinburgh castle. 

Picture (44) Shows that though locations may change the spoken word world never stops. So with the fringe over and Edinburgh drawing drawing the curtains after three weeks of excess we move to the wild west. Well the wild west end of Glasgow where I spied a young poet with a great future in Ross MacFarlane who was first familiar of the many I saw at Last Monday at Rio 

Picture (45) Shows Robin Cairns back in his rightful place as our genial host welcomes us back to Glasgow and Last Monday at Rio much to the delight of the expectant crowd 

Picture (46)  Having got the crowd in focus I decided to get a clearer picture of the man I call the maestro commanding an audience as only he can and I think this action shot shows Robin at his best 

Picture (47) As is always the case at Rio Robin had lined up a top quality poet as his headline act for the night  and this month it was brilliant Edinburgh based poet Kevin Cadwallender who I hadn’t managed to see in the whole run of the fringe. Kevin is in my opinion a poet I always enjoy seeing as anyone who can give beauty tips to daleks is a man to be taken seriously. Well I was scared of the daleks when I was wee so anybody brave enough to tell them to clean up their act has got to be admired. 

So that was my journey through what was I’m sure you’ll agree a very busy month but it  was also a month when I made a fierce friends and partied on wherever words were spoken. It was a month in which I made friendships and memories which will warm my heart in the coldest days of winter.

Love And Best Wishes

Gayle X 

Score Card

Hey Readers

Friday saw me have a really bizarre day where running errands of mercy for my flatmate meant missing shows I had hoped to attend.
I did however attend a Hammer and Tongue poetry slam and more than that I was a judge at the slam This poem relates the story of how it felt to be a judge in a poetry slam I’ve given it the title Score Card I hope you enjoy the read.

Score Card 

The dark of a haunted  basement
masquerades as a torture chamber
for the spoken word participants
who take to the stage
to let me feel the love, the passion, the rage
You see I  was a judge in a poetry slam 
as six poets battled for hammer and tongue
It was time to let the battle begin
when marking I remember
not to hold grudges
or be favourable to those I  call friends 
having competed on nights like this
I sense the power of the occasion
and how it can impact
on even the most seasoned of poets
the trick is too grab the fear by the throat
and not freeze
you need to make your three minutes matter
when I’m a judge with score card in hand
I want to hear your patter
show me your dreams in rhyming schemes
that take me to the edge of my seat
fill me with anticipation,
Inspiration, horror
make me laugh, cry, or bring tears to my eyes
I try really hard never to give anyone below 7.4 or 5
respect is due for putting themselves through this hell
bearing your soul to a room full of strangers
is fraught with challenges
hidden dangers lurk in every stanza
no matter how much you hated Cameron, Blair, or Thatcher,
what you think doesn’t matter  the audience will be the arbiter of  your success
their reaction counts more than you might like
in this poetic fight to the finish
and yes I empathise with the view
everyone’s a critic
but I promise I will play fair
I know how hard you laboured over your lyrical poem
I have felt the pain of standing alone on that stage
I will not deduct points
If you read from the page
this is about poetry not memory
content and delivery are more  important than subject choice
so let me hear your voice
I want to listen to your words,
before I mark them.

@ Gayle Smith 2016.

Spoken Words

Hey Readers On day 11 of NaPoWriMo my poem covers the
topic of spoken word nights so I have given it an appropriate title and called it Spoken Words. I hope you enjoy the read

Spoken Words

To anyone who thinks that poetry is all about daffodils and daisies
weddings, birthdays or new born babies
I challenge you to attend a spoken word night
if you do you’ll find
rhymers telling the world our views
expressing our thoughts on what passes for news
whilst you muse on our sentences and sonnets
we remove the bees from our bonnets
on serious topics like the environment education and wealth
or the state of the nation’s cultural health
maybe the way we are seen by others
we might even be letting you see what goes on
between the covers of our notepads
or revealing secret dreams
relating stories of housing schemes in the 1970’s
gender transitioning whilst maintaining our dignity
and just enough secrets to guard our privacy
giving our opinions on civil liberties
and other topics including
fracking, union jacking, and the state of the press
or why in the Indy ref we voted yes
or in less enlightened cases no
and yes I am showing my personal colours in that last line 
as a poet I don’t do the crime
of indifference
I know the power of resistance
and I will resist those who oppose equality
who won’t take action on poverty
or reducing the attainment gap
I may take the mic but I won’t take the rap
for the  sins committed by others
as a feminist I have discovered
the power of rage
so when I take the stage
you might hear carefully managed anger
but like my fellow performers
I come from a place of passion
on subjects from fascism to fashion
I and others will speak our minds
say it as we find it
not as we would like it to be
the only guarantee I can make
is to say you won’t like it all
but something from someone
will speak your truth
remind you of a memory from your youth
now it may drive you crazy
but if you want to hear poems which are not about daffodils, daisies or even new born babies
if you want to know what other voices are saying
you won’t find the answers
on the sanitised BBC version of our nation
so come and attend a spoken word night
come and see us take the mic
and take the rise out of the pompous and vain
come once and I promise you’ll come back again

@ Gayle Smith 2016