Vladmir Mayakovsky was a Russian poet, playwright and artist. A new collection of his writing has been published under the name Volodya: Selected Works. The release of this collection is being celebrated at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with an event as part of the Babble On – Spoken Word strand.
The Language of Revolution begins with Dr Rosy Carrick expressing her love of the poetry of Vladmir Mayakovsky. Rosy is the host for the evening and states that she was “weeping with joy” when she discovered Mayakovsky’s writing and that his poetry inspired her to undertake a PhD and to translate his writing from the original Russian into English. Rosy reads an extract from a long poem by Mayakovsky called A Cloud in Trousers. This poem expresses many of the themes and interests of the Russian revolutionary. Working class language and workers rights are all mentioned and Rosy’s reading fully expresses her love and the joy she experiences in Mayakovsky’s powerful and engaging poetry.
The event continues with readings from two politically minded poets. Up first is Sean Bonney. He reads two poems, starting with Letters on Riots and Doubt. Later in the event Sean states that he “doesn’t want to be read by poets. I want to be read by people who put themselves on the line“. Sean wants to get his poetry out to new and diverse places and talks about reading in anarchist centres in Leith and during the London riots of 2011.
The second poet to take the stage is Hollie McNish. She reads one of her most well known poems – Embarrassed. This poem is looks at breast feeding in public and how some people find this unacceptable despite the constant images of breasts in the media. Hollie discusses the political nature of her work and mentions how many people do not consider the poetry she writes on motherhood political. From listening to Hollie read her work it is blatantly obvious that this is not the case and that a strong political voice is present throughout.
The event this evening showcased how different voices can be political and how these voices can appeal to audiences in a variety of ways. The Edinburgh International Book Festival continues until Monday 28 August, but there is only one more event during the Babble On strand. The Lost Poets will be in conversation with their biographer Christine Otten on Wednesday 23 August.