Tag Archive | Carla Woodburn

Daughters Of The Muse 

As regular readers will know, I  am a spoken word poet and early last August I was proud to be part of an event which though I didn’t know it at the time would completely change my life. The event in question was  women with fierce words in which those participating were encouraged to bring a fierce word to the Scottish Poetry Library to describe something relating to the poem they had chosen to read. This event then took on a life of its own as we became a fierce tribe and now just over a year later we have collated the poems of the day into an anthology and on Monday Lesley Traynor who was the driving force behind the event was interviewed on the Janice Forsyth show on Radio Scotland. In this poem which I have titled Daughters Of The Muse I give my reaction to the interview and the pride I feel on  being part of this wonderfully talented group of women . I hope you enjoy the read. 
Daughters Of The Muse 

A woman is interviewed 

about a new poetry collection

which the interviewer called
an exciting new development

before asking how it came about 

the women replied it was the result a challenge

to produce a piece of art in a day 

needless to say she rose to the occasion

and inspiration struck 

she asked poets to bring a  fierce word 

to the courtyard of the Scottish Poetry Library 

a word which empowered them

 or made them feel good about themselves 

as a starting place to introduce their poem

though all poets were invited only women replied 

what began as an event quickly morphed into a tribe 

as sisterhood showed its power

friendships forged that Friday afternoon

have matured and blossomed as we’ve celebrated each success

from Emma’s novel  to the launch of  Carla’s spoken word event 

we are not the type of women to rest on laurels 

we are daughters of the muse 

as we proved when we signed fierce words on canvas 

to become our art 

our creation 

we are an inspiration to others 

who will follow in our paths 

and now we have this collection 

as a memory of the day  

a day we tackled the task of rising to the challenge we faced 

and accomplished it by making  words our art 

@ Gayle Smith 2017

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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 Women Are Visible In All Shapes And Sizes It Really Is Something To Celebrate 

At the beginning of the month  I had the privilege to be part of the Visible Women festival a two day which celebrated who and what women are through the context of art, workshops, and discussion. 

Organised by the human dynamo that is Keira McLean, visible women had an action packed programme of theatre and discussion including the premiere of a one woman show by the hottest property  on the Scottish spoken word scene Victoria McNulty, the controversially acclaimed show Gaslight by Darren Loki McGarvey, and workshops on feminist music , comedy and film festivals. 

As a trans woman I was delighted to asked to submit a poem to this festival but me being me I e-mailed three to Keira and let her decide which one she wanted to include. The poem she selected was Does My Lipstick Scare You ? which I wrote for World Transgender Remembrance Day in 2014. On chatting with Keira she told me that she made her choice due to the fact it was the best fit for the event as it challenged those in attendance to redefine their notions and images of women and of womanhood. Looking back I can quite clearly see why she made this poem her choice and I believe that I would have made the same decision.  If you look at some of the artwork featured in the exhibition you’ll see why. 

Picture (1) Women And Words asks a fundamental question on the power dynamics in male- female relationships 

Picture (2) This picture uses a word which is usually used to describe power and authority that an individual or organusation may hold over us in certain situations. Don’t get me wrong the word obey is fine when we use it in it’s proper context like for example reminding children to obey our parents or school teachers, or if we are members of a group, or a club we promise to obey the rules of that club or group. Unfortunately however,when it comes to women the word obey has very negative connotations. In our case it is usually inferred or even stated that we should obey the men in our lives no matter in what capacity. Yes even in 21st Century Scotland/UK this attitude still prevails albeit to a lesser extent than was once the case,but it is still very much out there.

 To me the idea that I should be considered of secondary importance and therefore subservient  to male family members, work colleges , or lovers, just because I’m female is fundamentally flawed but attitudinal barriers are often the hardest kind to break down and we need to remember that it is only  30 years ago that this word was included in every wedding ceremony in the country as part of the bride’s promise to her husband.  Yes I know it says in the Bible that wives should to their husbands but it also says that nobody should eat pork and people can sleep with family members, and I don’t either of these argument work well in today’s consumer based society .

Picture (3) Words,can be used as weapons and they very often are as capitalism promotes inequality between the sexes as the collection captured, in this photograph amply demonstrates.

Picture (4) Gives you a message the established order don’t want you to know and that message is freedom is power. It also asks the most fundamental of questions which is how can you have no home? For women however, this question still needs to be addressed as  more women than men will be homeless due to changes in their domestic circumstances so though freedom may very well be power for men locally, nationally, and globally this doesn’t apply to women who often find themselves out in the cold due to changes in living arrangements.  

Picture (5) If every picture tells a story then the images on this wall speak of judgement with slogans like to cover up and shut up and not fit to be a mother informing us of the standards men or the more neanthadal among that species think women should aspire to.  Now I hate to shatter the illusions of these delicate little creatures but maybe they have their centuries confused. For the avoidance of doubt  this is the 21st and it’s time they stopped living in the 12th

. Picture (6 ) I find this image both challenging and powerful and I’m sure many people will have their own personal take on it.  As for me, my interpretation of the phrase walk with me is that men need to spend a day walking in our shoes to understand the prejudice and discrimination, we still face in Scottish/ British and Global society even in these so-called liberal and enlightened times.  

Picture (7) This image tackles the thorny image of stereotypes. If you look closely you will see a picture of a women’s crossed legs. This in my portrays the idea of woman as seducer, and temptress. It is if you like the typical male view what femininity is about though it doesn’t constitute an image of any women I know.  Indeed if truth be told it provides only one representation of what may or may not be at any given time and as such should not be given a greater prominence than it deserves.  

In the same photograph you can also see the word hysterical. This is a word, which is only ever attributed to women and the implication behind it is that unlike men who are always perfectly balanced, women are not in control of our emotions are liable to throw a temper tantrum if we are not given our own way.  This sexist use of language gives the misleading impression that men are more rational than women and is often used to discriminate against us.

Picture (8) If visible women means making women proud of who we are   then this picture of my friend and fellow poet Carla Woodburn which shows her looking happy, confident, and relaxed  is the perfect picture to include in this post. Carla is a very visible woman in the Glasgow poetry scene and has recently set up her own spoken word night Tell It Slant  at The Project Cafe on the last Friday of the month and with her friendly but professional attitude and her warm and welcoming personality I am sure it will be a fantastic event which will become a valuable part of our spoken word scene in the months and years to come.  

Picture (9) Shows my poem Does My Lipstick Scare You? Hanging on display in the exhibition. Though the text is not clearly visible in this photograph you can quite clearly see that it is a poem in the way it is laid out and I was proud to have it featured at an event which looked at who women are and how we are represented in every way imaginable. On chatting to others who attended the festival , I found that many had viewed my poem and were very complimentary about it saying that it challenged heteronorative norms as to who and what women and told the story of a very visible trans woman who wasn’t afraid to be herself 

Naturally I was delighted to receive such positive feedback on my  work particularly on a poem which I believe challenges everyone but especially alpha males to recognise that trans woman are women and will not be bullied by anyone Looking back at the festival I can honestly say I completely understand why Keira selected this poem to represent my work and trans women more generally as it challenges the notion of patriarchy and illustrates that women come in all types , shapes and sizes and when we can visibly embrace the fact and enjoy being ourselves then  it really is something to celebrate.  

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 

Act Of Resistance 

Hey Readers 
This poem is written in memory of a fantastic night of words and music at McChuills where poets and musicians played a benefit night for Palestine at the monthly Fail Better event entitled Match The Fine For Palestine. I was privileged to be on the billed performers list for this gig alongside such talents as The Wakes, Francis Lopez, Victoria McNulty, Carla Woodburn , Declan Welsh, and many more to numerous to mention. The night was well supported by the creative community and it was good to see friendly faces such as Ella Russell, Liam McCormick, Jim Monaghan, and Shaun Moore amongst the audience and we raised almost £300 to be sent a youth organisation which helps young Palestinians to develop their talents and life skills which will empower them to serve and lead their community in the years to come as they seek to build the Palestine of the future. I have given it the title Act Of Resistance I hope you enjoy the read 

Act Of Resistance

It was a night when poets and musicians

spoke with purpose and pride.

to support the people of Palestine

this was an event where no-one was content

to accept the lies peddled as truths

by the press and media

as they attempt to demonise a community

who don’t fit with their long held views

every night on the mainstream news

you will hear Palestinians castigated as terrorists

by a British establishment whose hands according to them

are completely free of stain.

if you are taken in by this and believe the way they play the game

ask yourselves what the red white and blue

has ever done for Ireland

I think you’ll find it’s not a lot.

after all genocide and attempted starvation

isn’t the way to win the hearts of a nation

it was the same in the Scottish highlands 

as bouts of mindless violence

cleared lands in the name of the crown

as we remembered our histories

we couldn’t let Palestine down

so we told our stories shared our poems and songs

in the name of those who have endured politically delivered wrongs

on a night like this I was proud

we belonged not to Glasgow but the world

as we raised money for the children of Bethlehem

Declan told tales of a recent visit

to a place which was warm and friendly

but also terrifyingly real

he spoke with a zeal fed by his passion for fairness

the couldn’t care less brigade

could stick to the comfort zones they have no intention of leaving

to hear of people grieving

would offend their sensibilities

the fragility of their certainties could not survive a night like this

they can save their air kisses for someone else

a selfish self indulgent type who would deny the basic necessities

to those most in need of our support

Declan had plenty to report

as let he us know of checkpoints and armed guards

patrolling the streets where Jesus once walked

If he were here I  think he would be shocked stunned and mortified

but most of angry that we could ignore

a people displaced and in distress

yes I do believe he would have said what he thought

would it have been popular?

probably not but it would have been an honest opinion

like those of the poets and musicians

who took this stage to make a point

if noses were put out of joint by what we said

that’s too bad I for one am glad

we did as Pastor Neimoller would have wished

In an act of resistance

we supported the people of Palestine

@ Gayle Smith 2016 
The picture at the top of the poem shows Johnny Cypher doing his set for the cause. 

16 Cinderella’s

Hey Readers

image

This poem is dedicated to the most magnificent group of women I have ever been privileged enough to be part of.

This group for those who don’t know is the fierce women who took the poetry library to new places when we performed there on the opening day of the 2016 Edinburgh fringe. This was a day when new friends were made and existing friendships strengthened , it was a day when we celebrated womanhood in all its glorious diversity.

It was if I’m honest one of my best ever days as a poet and as a woman and as I said earlier it was a day was privileged to be part of and I would like to take this chance to thank Lesley Traynor for organising such an excellent event. It is in celebration of this wonderful day that I have written this poem which I have titled 16 Cinderella’s. I hope you enjoy the read.

16 Cinderella’s

It was the event to start them all
16 Cinderella’s had a ball
with no Prince Charming
to claim he was the main attraction
as women and as poets
we carved a slice of the action
for ourselves
and voiced our thoughts
with those willing to listen
to our carefully crafted rhymes
we shared this time together friendship’s were formed
and memories made
on that day in the still of an afternoon
in a place where poets meet
but be under no illusions
we weren’t sugar sweet
we were loud proud and fierce
there was power in the truths we spoke
we rocked and believe me
I heard the castle shake
and some would be literary suitors
quake in their boots
our sentences grounded
by the roots our foremothers planted
with care, tenderness, and wisdom
there was no fairytale kingdom
no magic spells nor potions
no hero was required
all we desired was to be seen
heard and respected
our poems were carefully selected
to showcase a word
that made us the women we are
equality, passion, and transformation,
provided inspiration
for our voices, joys , and spirits,
to be expressed in the creation of original art
as we opened our minds and our hearts
we learned from each other
discovered how powerful we can be
when we allow ourselves to imagine a better world
where women and girls
will smash every kind of ceiling
ever created to frustrate us
and stop us being the best we can
we showed not that we needed to
that we are the equal of any man
be it Romeo, Rambo, or Desperate Dan
Peter Pan or any other
you care to name
you will see us
you will hear us
you will remember our names
we are women and we are fierce
no man will make us small
we are 16 Cinderella’s
and as from now
we will decide who gets a ticket for any ball we attend

@ Gayle Smith 2016