Any literature savvy visitor to Scotland’s capital city during the festival season will know that the Edinburgh International Book Festival always has an excellent programme of authors and writers. However, in recent years the festival has looked to branch out and include several events that look beyond the familiar pages of prose and poetry. This has resulted in some engaging and entertaining programming that has included a Spoken Word strand called Babble On.
This year Kate Tempest is definitely the stand out performer in the Babble On strand with two separate events. The first is with her editor and fellow poet Don Paterson. Kate released her debut collection Hold Your Own last year and hearing the poet discuss the process with her editor will definitely be an interesting and unique event. The following evening Kate will take centre stage herself to read poems and captivate the crowd. She is probably the most passionate and engaging performer on the spoken word scene at the moment, so it is an event not to be missed.
Kate Tempest is a Mercury Prize nominated hip-hop artist and rhymes and music is something she shares in common with fellow Book Festival performer George The Poet (also known as George Mpanga). George was recently listed in the BBC Sound of 2015 poll and his debut poetry collection Search Party was released earlier this year. His Book Festival event is on Friday 21 August and will definitely be a popular show and an excellent opportunity to hear this spoken word performer outside of a sweaty hip-hop club.
On the same evening, Edinburgh-based, American-born poet Ryan Van Winkle performs poems from his second collection The Good Dark. He is an Edinburgh Fringe regular, with recent spoken word shows Red, Like My Room Used to Feel and Viewmaster gaining rave reviews. The opportunity to see him at a Book Festival event will no doubt give a better insight into his process and the fact that Van Winkle is sharing the stage with Costa Award winner Jonathan Edwards guarantees value for money. Edwards’ award-winning collection My Family and Other Superheroes is warm and personal and the type of poetry that begs to experienced in a live setting.
Other stand out events in the Babble On strand include Prolong The Talk and Voices in The Dark. The former being a celebration of the poet Philip Larkin featuring performances from five contemporary poets including Helen Mort (a Costa Award Nominee) and Sam Riviere (winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry). Voices in The Dark takes the concept of spoken word to a new level, as four poets (including Edinburgh based Janette Ayachi and Latitude Festival ‘New Voice’ Andrew McMillan) read their work in a darkened room, with only their words to guide the audience. This event underlines the originality of the programme and shows the appealing and diverse nature of the Babble On strand.