As I look back on the year just ended it is fair to say that it has been both enjoyable and challenging and that some of the challenges in both poetry and blogging have proved to be both enjoyable and rewarding in ways I would never have expected .
As I started 2017 I did so with my customary optimism. Well I’ve always been a glass half full kinda girl and my year got off to a good start as I met my first challenge and completed a whole new set of poems specifically written on climate change for my first billed appearance at Extra Second. With that and an excellent Celtic Connections and SNP Burns Supper under my belt and a good start to my poetry events at both Words And Music and Rio I had hit the ground running and given the New Year the start it deserved.
February slowed me down as usually always does, well if nothing else it gave me time to reflect and focus on my writing. It was towards the end of the month I wrote what I believe was my best poem of the year in a highly personal tribute to my late dad it was also around this time I wrote Game Changer a poem in support of LGBT football fans and made what has so far been my only visit to Aloud.
As we moved towards the lighter nights I not only hosted Words And Music I was once again a billed reader for Extra Second and this time the subject was Mental Health and yet again I produced a completely new set of poems for the night. I also attended the Visable Women festival at the Kinning Park complex on the first Saturday of the month where I was privileged to see Confessionals a brilliant hour long spoken word show by my friend Victoria McNulty and the last ever last Monday at Cafe Rio as we bid an emotional farewell to one of the spoken word scene’s most loved poetry homes hosted for 10 years by the genial Robin Cairns. On a more personal note I was delighted to learn that I had two poems selected for publication in the Mind The Time football memories anthology. The poems chosen were Rampant Lionesees about Scotland’s Women becomming the first team to represent our country at a major championship for 20 years and Through The Hoops which was written about my journey as a transsexual Celtic fan.
April started quitely enough in terms of performance and continued in the same vein till the middle of the month. This however can be a blessing particularly during a period when some poets like this are demented enough to participate in the NaPoWriMo challenge of writing 30 poems in 30 days. As the month wore on I made the opening night of Last Monday at Waterstones during which Robin had asked me to captain a team in the four ages slam at The Tron in mid May. Needless to say I accepted the challenge and relished the idea of it. Though I must admit that putting a team together is a harder job than you think. By the end of the month I had added a new event to my list of places to go as I made my debut appearance at Express Yourself which is excellently hosted by Carla Woodburn. However on the Wednesday after Rio I had a nasty fall whilst returning from the newsagents where I had gone to play the lottery. Make no mistake this was a bad one which resulted in a sprained ankle and left me unable to walk for around 10 days and a distinctly wobbly feeling for most of the summer.
Unsurprisingly perhaps my injury meant that I had to cancel Words And Music and that May was almost a poetry free zone. I say almost because I did honour my promise to Robin and captained my team at the four ages slam. Not only that I captained them to victory though it has to be said that my team mates Angie Strachan , and Lesley Traynor (see picture below) were the real stars of the show especially Angie who actually won the individual event and a place at the 2018 Scottish Slam Finals. The day after this momentous victory I decided to launch a second blog skirting round my life also on wordpress. Wheras tartan tights is as you know the place for my general musings I decided this one would focus more on trans and women’s issues. Yes I know I’m mad but you know what its improved the quality of my blogging and I’m glad I decided to do it as allows me to show a more personal side and I think it helps readers to get what makes me who I am.
Also on the blogging front I was invited to join the hosting team for the Bloggers Do It Better twitter chat This was a challenge I accepted and embraced and I’m delighted to still be part of the team as we move in the new year. Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy and can be stressful at times but it is also really enjoyable and the buzz I get from hosting is incredible.
Picture (1) Angela, Myself and Lesley pose for a victory photo after winning The Four Ages Slam At The Tron.
If May had been quiet due to injury June at least initially looked like being the same, and though I did manage to attend the Extra Second snap election special and also to focus on my main priority which was to host Words And Music. To be honest I thought that might be all I’d make it to, particularly since injury prevented me from taking my usual place at a polling station to help the party I’m member of win my local constituency. Still, there was a positive in this situation as at least I didn’t need a lift to the polling place as I did to the local elections just one month earlier. As it turned out with a new candidate in place my party did hold the seat though with a much reduced majority on a night which wasn’t our best. If ever I needed a pick me up it was now and it came that Saturday at the annual McGonagall supper which I made a last minute decision to attend. Though my mobility was far from perfect it felt great just to be in the company of friends.
It was another last minute decision the faith/unbelief open poetry competition the following Saturday which gave me my biggest surprise of the year as I went on to win the title and a £50 book token which has since been very well spent. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at this result if only because my poem Faithful Daughter which is my poetic appeal for the Church of Scotland to modernise may have been a bit too controversial for some people’s tastes.
With Edinburgh and the fringe looming ever closer it is no great surprise that I was very cagey during July appearing only at my own event at Words and Music and an Extra Second for which the theme of activism was too strong to resist and yet again I got on the billed readers list and produced another new set of poems tailored to suit the occasion. I also returned to express yourself for the first time since my fall but time I was purely there to enjoy the evening and believe me I did as some of us including yours truly ended walking all the way from The Project Cafe in the heart of Cowcaddens to Delmonicas and eventually Speakeasy in the heart of the Merchant City and that by the way is a longer walk than you think.
Come August and all roads led to the fringe. Well they did eventually though not before my usual stint at Words And Music, my attendance at the funeral of our much loved sister poet Catherine Walker, my participation in Pride’s Got Talent, where I tried my hand at stand up comedy and a fantastic Extra Second on Sexuality to coincide with the upcoming Glasgow Pride weekend. As a trans woman this one had my name on it and I made sure I was not only on the bill but that I produced my set yet and believe me judging by the compliments I received I think it’s safe to say I delivered.
When I eventually did get to the fringe I was welcomed with open arms by fringe favourites and friends such as Jenni Pascoe, Fay Roberts, David Lee Morgan, Hannah Chutzpah, Sophia Blackwell, and Matt Panesh, to name a few. I may not have made it through as often as I wanted but I saw all the shows I needed to see and some extra gems which were recommended by friends including what was in my opinion the best show of fringe 2017 The Door To Door Poet By Rowan McCabe. All that and I still managed to take part in three shows including my now compulsory appearance at Other Voices. Well let’s be honest the fringe would never have been the same without it.
Picture (2) Sophia Blackwell rockin it at The Banshee Labyrinth as part of the Edinburgh Fringe
As the fringe ended for another year it was back to Glasgow and last Monday at Waterstones. With that we moved on to September and the usual round of cultural engagements in what was a low key month for yours truly in terms of performing my poetry but not in terms of culture. However this slight shift in scene was just what I needed after the drama that was August. It has to be said however the highlight of what was an enjoyable month when I actually had time to relax, was without doubt the official launch of the women with fierce words poetry anthology at the Griffin Bar in Glasgow city centre. This was an amazing and uplifting night and shows what can done when a group of women have both talent and determination. On a slightly different note the following Saturday I attended the hope over fear rally and on the same night I went to see a play called Adam about a young transgender man and it was a brilliant and thought provoking peace of theatre. I also made my return to the last Monday stage and believe me it felt good. To conclude the month I received the news that one of my poems had been published in the 10 Red anthology and on the final Thursday and a week earlier than usual I was one of the hosts of the National Poetry Event at the Gallery Of Modern Art which had been moved from its usual slot on the first Thursday of October to accomadate Hull’s place as city of culture.
October saw me doing my stuff at Words And Music and at Last Monday at Waterstones with another team slam sandwiched inbetween. My team didn’t win this team but hey you can’t win them all. I was also interviewed for a spoken word radio show by my friend Carla Woodburn which I have to say was an interesting and enjoyable experience, and thanks to impromptu Facebook conversation with Jim Monaghan I managed to get a last minute ticket for what had to be Glasgow’s poetry event of the year with Hollie McNish at Oran Mor. Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Hollie McNish is the best poet in Britain today. Well when you’ve got Liz Lochhead as your support act it speaks volumes for your ability. I also had a lovely night at Extra Second where I ended up on a date with a gorgeous man called Brendan. We finished our evening at Katie’s Bar where we enjoyed each other’s company in a relaxed and intimate manner.
As we got to November Words and Music kicked off the month in style with brilliant featured sets from featured writer Katharine MacFarlane and featured musician Bob Leslie. It was then back to the Tron for another Sunday team slam but this time I was on the judging panel along with Kevin Cadwallender. After that I performed at Extra Second even though I didn’t expect to as it turned out this would though I didn’t know it at the time be my last apperance at the Blue Chair before it closed its doors for the final time. It was as always an enjoyable night made even better by the fact Brendan turned up and just like the last time we ended up at Katie’s for more special times. During what was an eventful month I made my second appearance at Express Yourself which just so happened to be on Angela Strachan’s birthday and ended up forming the female version of The Proclaimers with my new karaoke partner the wonderful Antonia Seaward. Honestly the regulars of Lauder’s Bar have never heard anything quite like it. I finished the month at Waterstones where I gave my best performance since the move from and ended November on a high.
December saw me have a quiter month than I’d planned managing to attend only three events as a combination of icy weather and a seasonal illness ruled me out of at least four events I had planned to attend. I did however host an excellent Words And Music Christmas Cracker at the Tin Hut with Karen Jones and Bernadette Collier in outstanding form as the featured acts. My final performance of the year at the Tinsil Tales event at the Gallery of Modern Art on the Thursday before Christmas when I compared the first section of this four hour poetry marathon before focusing on my set. In my set I lulled the auduence in to a false sense of security by reading two new sensible Christmas poems on consumerism and homelessness before reverting to two of my Christmas comedy classics to have the audience howling louder than a winter gale to finish my performances for the year on a high.
For my last event of the year I journeyed west as I accompanied my friend Janet Crawford the Dram Bar where she was competing in the Loud Poets political slam which was deservedly won by Jim Monaghan to finish off the year
So there you have it my poetic year. Thanks to all who made it what it was, a memorable journey where bards were the stars and musicians made magic in song . Here’s hoping that the next twelve months will be just as exciting. So I’ll close by wishing all my readers A Happy, Peaceful, Successful, New Year. I hope you’ll keep reading tartan tights throughout 2018.
Till next time