Loud Poets have become a well-established fixture at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and tonight celebrate their 6th birthday with their usual mix of comedy, emotion and challenges, all under the poetry umbrella.
It is a winning formula; one which allows the four artists to think outside the box and gives, not just a platform for them to explore their own poetry, and tonight a reading from one of their favourite poets, but also to give poetry a modern twist, a contemporary edge and make poetry accessible to everyone. It is this which makes the announcement that Loud Poets has an unknown future such a troubling one. Having thus far failed to secure funding, Creative Director, Kevin McLean, also, aptly, one of the featured artists tonight, doesn’t know if Loud Poets will be back and in what form – certainly they won’t be in their usual monthly slot next month. This will leave a huge hole in the cultural calendar in Edinburgh for surely nobody else does a two hour spoken word show quite as well as this?
From the opening poetry karaoke and poetry prompt challenges to the full sets performed by tonight’s acts the audience are taken on a delightful journey of spoken word – some topics poignant, some entertaining, some just downright bizarre but all giving artists a chance to share their work and the audience something to think about.
Jenny Lester’s poetry speaks on her own views on feminism and the difficulties of dating but she is not afraid to step outside her comfort zone, commendably throwing in some Gàidhlig from her own learning journey (‘gle mhath’). Katie Ailes (now Doctor Ailes), producer with I Am Loud Productions, presents poetry from the heart with a particularly memorable and heart-wrenching poem about a friend stuck in a vicious cycle of sexual violence. McLean, usually the host of proceedings, takes his own turn to present his poetry, reading, amongst others, a powerful piece written for his mother’s funeral and one for Valentine’s Day. It is Stuart Kenny (of The Space Gecko Project) who kind of steals the show though with a 15 minute set, performed without prompts, all about two geckos in love. It sounds wacky but it really, really works and is a hugely impressive crescendo to the whole show.
Loud Poets is an exemplary platform for artists and audiences alike to experiment and encounter modern day poetry and it will be a real sadness if it disappears. Let’s hope, with the support of sold out crowds like tonight, they can find a way to entertain and engage for years to come.