Of all the literary artforms, poetry has perhaps suffered most from the perception of elitism, in terms of both who writes it and who reads it. But has this always been the case? How does Scotland fit into this rubric, both historically and contemporarily?
Director Pablo Larrain discards the standard biopic formulas and depicts a fabulously mythologised version of the great Chilean poet and activist Pablo Neruda. Told from the perspective of Neruda’s police antagonist, played sympathetically by Gael Garcia Bernal, the movie captures the spirit of the poet, his extraordinary influence on Chilean politics of the time, and fuses film noir with poetic fantasy.
Deep Wheel Orcadia is a magical first: A science-fiction verse novel written in the Orkney dialect. Push the Boat Out Festival has the absolute pleasure of hosting Harry Josephine Giles’s launch for this unique adventure in poetry a mere day after their book is released. She will be joined by musician Atzi Muramatsu for an electrifying, live-scored performance from the novel.
Scottish BAME Writer’s Network (SBWN) is an advocacy and professional development group for writers who identify as BAME, mixed-race or POC with a connection to Scotland. In this session curated for Push the Boat Out, the team present an hour of Healing and Recovery through film, poetry and prose from esteemed writers Bee Asha, Bhavika Govil, Nichelle Santagata and Zebib K. Abraham, hosted by SBWN Co-director and award-winning author Dean Atta.
There are those would argue that Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot were the most influential poets of the last century, revolutionising and freeing up the art of verse for all who came after them. But what about those whose poetry is written primarily to be performed, especially with music?
To what lengths would you go to achieve fame? A pair of Scottish chancers relocate to the epicentre of the hip hop counter-culture and pass themselves off as a Californian rap group. Their cheeky antics are hilarious yet the film shines a caustic light on the illusory nature of celebrity and the gullibility of the suited execs in the hierarchies of the music industry.
This promises to be a raucous, uplifting headline show featuring force of nature and much-acclaimed performer and poet Salena Godden, Scottish Album Of The Year winner, Nova, plus fellow Scottish rapper emcees Solareye of Stanley Odd and the mighty Empress, whose debut album Love Wins has been winning over all who hear it. Expect upbeat rhythmic excitations, deft flow, sharp social observations and maybe even some dancing.
Push the Boat Out is proud to present one of the first outings for Gail McConnell’s much anticipated book-length poem, The Sun is Open, following the acclaim of her highly unusual, liminal poems in Fourteen and Fothermather. When Roseanne Watt reads, you can hear a pin drop. Woven through with the language and imagery of Shetland, her poems are a soundscape, her precision is a revelation. Her dual-language debut collection, Moder Dy, was published by Polygon in May 2019.
We live in times of unprecedented crises, from the pandemic we’ve endured to the ecological devastation around us. What is the point of poetry when the world is collapsing? Can poetry help us to navigate climate doom, and maybe even help us change course?
The Forwards are the UK and Ireland’s foremost poetry prizes, celebrating the very best of contemporary poetry published in the British Isles. A week ahead of the much-anticipated announcement of this year’s winners, we hear from poets on the 2021 shortlist.
Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet and poetry educator who combines the personal and the political to bring the injustices of contemporary British society into sharp relief. Alycia Pirmohamed’s poetry interweaves history, both individual and collective memory, a powerfully intersectional feminism, and a deep connection to land and the natural world.
This event brings together some of the sizzling talents published by Stewed Rhubarb in recent years. In a quick-fire hour of poetry, you can expect appearances from Colin Bramwell, Ellen Renton, Tracey S. Rosenberg, Bibi June, Henry Bell and Ross McCleary. Together, we will abolish prisons, take our Highland Citizenship tests, and spend every minute of the hour endorsing poetry in its purest Stewed Rhubarb form.
Push the Boat Out has the honour of celebrating the centenary of the late and great George Mackay Brown. GMB was a giant of Scottish letters yet had a distinctly outsider sensibility. His musicality, his blending of fable and realism, and his placement of Orkney at the centre of his world have made an indelible and lasting impact on writers and artists of many stripes since.
Malika’s Poetry Kitchen is a writers’ collective founded in Brixton by Malika Booker and Roger Robinson in 2001. One such impact is in supporting writers to break their own taboos, to challenge themselves much more deeply – be that in the subjects they address, the language they use or the modes of expression they experiment with. Come and have your soul warmed and your boundaries healthily expanded in this unique opportunity.
Calum Rodger is a poet working in performance, print, and digital media. Armed with a PhD in Scottish literature, he has reimagined 20th century poems as video games, and created crowdsourced poetry for the Edwin Morgan Centenary Program at the Hunterian. Sam Riviere’s poetry is fearless and satirical, and has been described as a kind of ‘anti-poetry’ in its rejection of so many of the conventions and hallows of the contemporary poetry ‘scene’.
How is poetry used in the service of politics? Contrarily, how does poetry as an art form allow us to challenge orthodoxies, smash patriarchies, upturn conventions of language and gender, and expose racism? Must all writing in this vein be bombastic, or can slow-burning, quiet resistance be just as effective?
The planet is on fire and in flood, as ever more alarming reports detail the impacts of climate change and species extinction, soil erosion and air pollution. How on earth should we respond to this ever-expanding checklist of loss? In their own inimitable ways, three astonishing poets shape their work as exercises in environmental attention.
We’re told at the start of this movie that most Burmese can write poetry or can recite a poem by heart. Poetry in Burma is an art for the common people. But what if poetry comes into collision with a repressive military regime? Maung Aung Pwint is Burma/Myanmar’s most famous living dissident poet who has been jailed many times by the regime.
Game Six is a work by Tom Sharp and Jim Sutherland about post-truth politics, language, illusion and grace. It follows the forty-one moves made by US chess player Bobby Fischer in game six of the 1972 Reykjavik World Chess Championship against Boris Spassky from the USSR. It appears as a book, a happening in Camden, a website and a showing at Push The Boat Out.
Tighten your VR goggles, stabilize your dimensional tracker and prepare for a poetic voyage through Virtual and Other Realities. With poetry readings from Stephen Sexton, Rachel Plummer, Elspeth Wilson and Jeda Pearl. Hosted by Russell Jones, deputy and poetry editor of sci-fi magazine, Shoreline of Infinity.
Fancy a slot in the next Push the Boat Out? Or maybe you’ve been inspired or disgusted by the festival and have something powerful to say… Round off the end of your festival weekend with a very special Push the Boat Out Open Mic, hosted by our Comms Manager and Poet Laureate from Treaty Six territory in Canada, Julia Sorensen, and the wonderful poet and Open Mic queen Catherine Wilson.
UK hip hop has traditionally revolved around London, but there has been an undeniable recent boom in hip hop creativity and innovation across all the nations, especially Scotland. Some of the most exciting new projects are coming from women in the genre, who are rarely centred in the hip hop narrative.
Jodorowsky’s surreal semi-autobiographical movie is a shape-shifting fantasy, an inventive and often hilarious mystical journey through madness, savage social commentary, as profound as anything the director, now in his 80s, has ever created.
How might we use poems – those we love and those we write – to make charms and amulets to guide and protect us? Join poet Liz Berry to read, write and use craft (of all kinds!) to create your own poetic charms. Writers of all stages are welcome at this playful, nurturing workshop.