@ Hidden Door, Edinburgh, on Tue 31 May 2016

Now is an exciting time for Scotland’s poetry scene. Spoken word is gaining real momentum, with poets coming together everywhere to carve a place for themselves on the stage. Hidden Door has curated an event to showcase this movement, a four-hour block of non-stop poetry and music hosted by current Loud Poets Slam Champion Lloyd Carlton Robinson.

The decision to mix musicians with poets is an effective one. It reinforces spoken word’s emphasis on rhythm and musicality, both essential to delivering an engaging poem out loud. This is especially evident in Robinson’s slot, when he performs over a selection of rhythmic backing tracks in a style not dissimilar to Scroobius Pip. At times the music does not quite fit the mood of the poetry, but Robinson will no doubt keep perfecting his use of multimedia. He packs a powerful punch with topics like male depression, which he expresses with great sensitivity. His choice of subject is timely amid increasing debates about modern masculinity, and shows skill at using art to respond to contemporary issues.

As a host, Robinson does well to create a safe and welcoming space for the poets. The audience give the poets their full attention, and there is a real sense of coming together to appreciate the growth of live poetry in Scotland. The event has appropriately been named a “jam” – as opposed to the competitive slam; this is a collaborative evening that shows poets coming together in a cohesive movement.

At the heart of today’s performance poetry are the Loud Poets, the self-proclaimed “spoken word revolution”, come to add dynamism to the scene. It is only appropriate that their co-founder, Miko Berry, visit the Poetry Jam. True to the group’s name he charges onto the stage and loudly projects a poem out into the crowd, getting us all riled up about ghostbusters (of all things). It is a memorable performance, and gives a sense of the thrill spoken word can bring.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Iona Lee. It is common for performance poets to please crowds by speeding up their speech, but Lee impressed with her ability to slow the pace and still leave the audience captivated. She is almost hypnotic when speaking, painting beautiful pictures with her imagery and light repetition. It is easy to see why she is Scotland’s current Slam Champion.

Hidden Door’s Poetry Jam is not necessarily a groundbreaking event, but it does succeed in showcasing the array of poetic talent available in Scotland. As Robinson notes, events like this help show that performance poetry is much more than “just old men reading Keats”.