Tag Archive | The Tron Theatre

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

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

From Glamour To A Giggle Feast We Tell It Like It Is

Hey Readers

On day 8 of Blogmas it’s time to re-live some Christmas memories as I take you to the panto and trust me Glasgow panto’s are always slightly edgy and cater for both the young and those of us who wish we were.

Over the years I’ve been to panto’s at four different venues and all have had totally unique atmospheres. The most glamorous pantomime in Glasgow is always staged at the Kings Theatre. This for most of us is our first experience of panto and it’s the one your mum will like. This is because the Kings is a wee bit safer than other panto’s and the jokes tend to be a bit less risqué but there can be no disputing the fact there is a magic about this magnificent venue and they really know how to put on an excellent show. Amongst those I’ve seen perform in panto in the Kings are the late and yes I will say great Gerard Kelly, Elaine C Smith, Gregor Fisher, The Krankies, Dorothy Paul, and Ricki Fulton. This was the place where biggest names in Scottish theatre strutted their Christmas stuff and we lapped it up every year.

As for other panto The Tron theatre which is a venue I love tends to make their Panto a wee bit different from the more traditional style and I think more suitable to an adult audience. I have to say I am an unashamed fan of this style of show and it’s pretty popular with workers on Christmas night’s out.

As for the now sadly deceased Arches, they, like The Tron tended to go for something a wee bit unique and whilst retaining an element of panto focused more on making a Christmas show with a twist andbelieve me there was nobody better at producing this kind of spectacle than former Arches theatrical director Andy Arnold. I have to say Arnold is in my opinion a man who has to go down as one of the most innovative directors in the history of Scottish theatre. To take elements of panto and elements of more traditional theatre and blend them in the way he did to make shows which would always leave you with that warm festive feeling takes a very special kind of talent and the Scottish festive season is much poorer for the departure of the Arches which produced so much ground breaking theatre over it’s 25 year history and introduced Glasgow audiences to a new type of Christmas show 

As for the last venue this place is without doubt in my opinion my favourite place for a Glasgow panto I refer of course to the Pavilion theatre. If the Kings was all about glamour, stars and sophistication the Pavilion was geared towards laughter and audience reaction and Pavilion audiences could get very raucous.

To me the Pavilion was about a comic look at Glasgow life with the panto as the narrative to tell the story. The Pavilion was and for that matter still is a bit more edgy than the Kings and the one liners packed a bit more of a punch with regards to topical issues. This is you like was the most Glaswegian experience of panto and with comedians such as Jimmy Logan, Johnny Bettie, and Andy Cameron, and local personalities such as Tiger Tim Stevens and the man who now reports from Hollywood Ross King and in more recent times Dean Park, Nicola Park and Cat Harvey, also treading the boards there it was always going to be that way.

That said there has always been something to suit all tastes in this city which is after all a former city of culture. It is also fair to say Glasgow has always been famed for variety and there is no better evidence of this than a pantomime season which proves that from glamour to a giggle feast we tell it like it is.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Forget The Fascist Salad Or The Pile Of Dirty Dishes Its Nice To See A Woman Of Words Who Has That Champion Feeling (A Review Of The Scottish National Poetry Slam Final 2016)

Hey Readers It’s hard to believe it’s been over a week since i witnessed one of the best nights of spoken word poetry it has ever been my privilege to attend. However, it really last Saturday evening I went to The Tron Theatre at the edge of Glasgow’s Merchant City for what has to be one of my favourite events of the year and that is the Scottish National Poetry Slam Final. As a poet who has competed in slams and has at first hand experienced that lethal cocktail of bravery, excitement and insanity I knew that the performers would be eagerly awaiting their chance to show us what they and more importantly were made of.

As I took my seat you could there undeniable air of both anticipation and tension in the the Tron’s main auditorium and that was just amongst the crowd who had gathered to watch and enjoy one of my favourite events of the spoken word calendar. As the audience got settled in to our seats we were treated to the ultimate slam song by way of introduction to our gold star evening of spoken word that song is what every slammer craves A piece of the action and the band who made it famous, The Sweet were fronted by Glasgow born singer Brian Connelly On taking the stage our compare Robin Cairns introduced our panel of judges and informed the audience that 22 of the 24 winners of slams who had qualified  by winning a slam in Scotland had arrived to compete in the event that would decide who represents Scotland in the International World Series Slam Championship in Paris in May.

The poets were divided in to two group of six and two groups of five with the two highest scorers from each group qualifying for the semi finals before eventually getting down the final three from which the winner would be selected by our panel of judges who included last year’s champion Bram E Gieban and the well respected force of nature who is one half of Rally And Broad the wonderful Jenny Lindsay.

As the battle commenced Kate Ailes was first up to the stage. Having seen Kate perform before I knew what to expect , and what I expected was quality and believe me she didn’t disappoint. In fact if I’m honest I was more than slightly surprised she never made the semi finals though to be fair she was in a very difficult group alongside Kevin Gilday , Kevin MacLean, Matthew Nicolson, and one of the rising stars lof the spoken word scene Jack MacMillan. Like Matthew and a good few others, Jack was a new voice to me and I must admit I liked his gusty, rapid fire style of delivery and I know that Shaun Moore a poet whose opinion I greatly respect has a very high opinion of his talent. To me however it Was Kevin Gilday with his excellent and cleverly written piece I’ve Fallen Out Of Love With Poetry who produced the top poem from the opening heat of what would prove to be a very hotly contested slam.

As the night progressed the second group was opened by Blue Chair slam winner Lesley Traynor (MacKay) whose performance of Threads was well received by audience who know their poetry. Lesley was followed By Hamish MacDonald whose Existential Blues was one of the most intelligent and best performed poems of the night in a championship which seemed to get better with every passing poem. Iona Lee’s My Blood was one of my first round highlights and to me at least the easy winner of this heat from which she qualified along with a man who turns polemics in to an art form, the excellent Liam McCormick.

In heat three it was Jess Smith with her powerful and thought provoking piece Demons and Darren McGarvey aka (Loki) who sealed the qualifying places as yet again I thanked God I wasn’t a judge. Personally I thought Isabella Mulder’s Dirty Dishes was the best poem in this round if that is one was judging purely on content. As we know however slams are not judged on content alone, and with performance and audience reaction both taken in to account Isabella and Sindigo can count themselves to be unlucky on this occasion that like Scotland in world cups they didn’t advance beyond the first round though unlike Scotland I would confidently predict that they will put that right in future tournaments.

The fourth and last of the first round group saw me donning not only my tartan tights but my tartan scarf, Scotland strip and mini kilt in support of an English born poet now resident in Ibrox. Now before you think this Celtic supporting SNP member has completely lost the plot I should perhaps explain that the poet in question was Chris Young and that my personal loyalty to my wee poetry brother is so strong can overcome even the most challenging of circumstances Of all the heats this was the one where it was hardest to retain my normal impartiality as I was also supporting Colin McGuire whose Fascists Guide To Salads was a brilliant take on the dangers of right wing extremism and this poem with the funny title tackled a very serious subject as it illustrated the emptiness of this prejudice so often wrapped up the rhetoric of traditional values.

As for Chris, his poem entitled Jimmy Saville Stole My Virginity grabbed the attention of the audience and kept them engaged by revealing to us the horror of someone once revered now quite rightly reviled, and the lost innocence of children’s dreams which were ruthlessly exploited by a man with darkness in his heart.

In a heat which also had Doug Garry, Ross McFarlane and Joe With The Glasses I feel I must give a special mention to Joanne MacKay’s poem Washing which was a brilliantly powerful take on the power of colour which harked back to the days of 1950’s America at the time of the McCarthy witch hunts when communists and African-Americans were singled out for particularly horrific treatment. This was one of the most emotionally evocative poems of the night and some of the imagery used was disturbingly and brutally brilliant. I have to say when the result of this heat was announced I was stunned that Joanne never made it to semi finals the qualifiers being Colin McGuire and Joe With The Glasses but as I know only too well poetry is to some extent subjective and there were twenty two potential winners from which our judges had to select only eight for the semi finals. Did I disagree with some of the decisions yes of course I did and had I been judging there would have been possibly as many as five fearless females in the last eight and I know for sure there would certainly have been four but surely the beauty of the art is that on any given night there would be few if any audience members who would completely agree with the judges choices 100 per cent of the time.

That said, the eight semi finalists of six men and two women gave those in attendance a cracking semi final of poetry which was both high octane in performance and even higher quality in the quality of work As for selecting the final three who would be competing for the title all I can say is that I would have needed the skills of a juggler to get this right and that no matter what three were chosen for the ultimate battle they would be a credit to both spoken word and to Scotland.

As for me, my selections would have been Iona Lee whose poem Nice was not only of the best of the night but in my opinion one of the best I’ve heard in over 20 years on the performance circuit. Now I know this is a big claim to make but I do so as I believe it exposes with a gentle ruthlessness what goes on behind the so-called social respectability of those nice middle class homes in the leafy lanes to which we are conditioned to aspire to dream of and the fact the performance was so eloquently executed meant it ticked all the boxes for me. I would also have chosen Liam McCormick for his thought provoking poem on how hopelessness how lack of opportunity leads to prejudice and Kevin Gilday or Darren McGarvey for the third slot, though I think Kevin would just have got the edge as his poem The Workie got the better audience reaction.

In the end the judges made their decision and called the three finalists as Iona Lee, Kevin Gilday and Joe With The Glasses and after a tough and brilliant final round it was time for the result to be announced. As tension filled the theatre I turned to my friend and fellow poet Shaun Moore and called it for Iona.
With the air of anticipation now tangible the judges handed their the result to our compare. The decision had been made and there was no turning back in a matter of seconds Scotland would know our champion. As Robin announced the results in reserve order Kevin Gilday was placed third for the third time in the last four years and it was now between Iona and Joe and by the slimmest of margins it was Iona who was crowned the 2016 Scottish National Poetry Slam Champion and who will carry the hopes of the nation at the world series in May. Trust me Scotland, our hopes are in good hands.

As I tend to do, I managed to have a few words with our new champion and congratulated her on what I thought was a well deserved victory. After our brief chat and indeed earlier in the evening at the first round bar break, I managed to catch up with a number of performers and other poets and friends who were there like me, to enjoy the poetry and craic. These included Chris Young, Colin McGuire, Darren McGarvey, Kevin Gilday , and Lesley Traynor, Anna Crow, Kirsty Nicolson, and Stephen Paton. Eventually however as so often happens at these events Derek Read being the good guy he is offered to buy me a drink which was I have to say gratefully accepted even if it did for a wee while at least put a stop to mixing and mingling.

As we charted on the events of the events of a thoroughly entertaining evening we both agreed that on balance the judges had got it right and that Iona will do us proud in Paris. Towards the end of the night I got chatting to two of the judges both of whom I know well Jenny Lindsay, and Bram E Gieban, and said that I didn’t envy them on a night when the standard of poetry was so high. It is perhaps no great surprise that both of them echoed my sentiments on a night when the real winner was poetry.

As I made my way back to the village I call home, I thought to myself that if this night is one of the highlights of the Scottish poetry calendar which it undoubtedly is then there must be a reason for that and I think I’ve figured out what that reason is. To me the Scottish poetry scene in which I am proud to play my small part is like one big and for the most part, happy village and this event encapsulates that feeling. It is in my opinion like a big poetry party with all the right guests and that’s what makes it such a great night However though there was as there always is a brilliant party atmosphere we had gathered to find a champion and that is what we did. So forget the fascist salad and a pile of dirty dishes it is my belief that in crowing Iona as our champion we have found a woman of words who will speak from the heart with wit, warmth and wisdom and be a fantastic ambassador for her country and her craft.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X