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Artist Talk: What are words worth in a digital age? Critiquing Linguistic capitalism with Pip Thornton

Anatomy Lecture Theatre Summerhall, Edinburgh

In this bespoke iteration of Newspeak for Push the Boat Out, Pip calculates the value of the work presented by our participating festival poets, asking What are words worth in a digital age? Join us as the artist discusses her practice and the interrogation – and co-opting – of language in turbulent times.

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Bookbinding Workshop

Histology Lab

In this two-part workshop, Scotland’s Makar Kathleen Jamie will guide participants through writing poetry, and bookbinding wizard Rachel Hazell will help participants to ‘bind’ their new work as book art. Kathleen Jamie will focus on the process of translating thoughts into words on a page and Rachel Hazell will help participants make that page into something beautifully, uniquely, and vulnerably personal.

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Open Book ‘Push the Boat Out’ Participants

Demonstration Room

Open Book groups write together in community settings across Scotland – from Ullapool to Eyemouth, and from the islands off Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway – with groups running in English, Gaelic, Scots and Arabic. Push the Boat Out has partnered with Open Book to help run workshops and engage participants in not only collaborative multilingual writing, but collaborative multilingual performance.

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Artist Talk: Alec Finlay’s Manifesto for Urban Crofts

Anatomy Lecture Theatre Summerhall, Edinburgh

Commissioned by Push the Boat Out, Alec Finlay has composed a poetic manifesto on the importance of urban green space during the pandemic. With specific reference to the urban croft in Leith, it discusses how green space is integral to addressing pandemic politics, culture, and healing.

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Artist Talk: Sean Wai Keung’s The Poetry Food Exchange

Anatomy Lecture Theatre Summerhall, Edinburgh

The Poetry Food Exchange is an installation which simultaneously challenges perceptions of transaction in both food and literature and encourages collaborative sharing. Sean Wai Keung, a Glasgow-based poetry, performance and food-maker, is in charge of the Exchange. Patrons will write down a memory or experience to do with food, and in return they will receive a fortune cookie with a line of poetry inside as well as a cup of warm broth.

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Sound and Vision: ‘Poetry’ by Lee Chang-Dong – (12) screening

Red Lecture Theatre

The untapped poetry in the lives of ordinary people, leading seemingly ordinary lives, is expressed as high art in this gentle story of an aging woman who discovers the poetry within herself. Heartbreaking and inspiring but without an ounce of sentimentality, Yun Junghee’s memorable performance as Mija, whose life becomes ever more complicated by circumstances out-with her control, is as understated as it is powerful.

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Poems from a Dangerous Year

Dissection Room 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh

And what a year (and a bit) it has been! Push the Boat Out seeks to celebrate and interrogate the role that poetry plays in helping us reflect on, challenge, and make sense of the world around us. In Poems from a Dangerous Year, some of our finest poets will do just that, selecting and presenting work that considers the past tumultuous 18 months.

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Double Bill: Fiona Benson & Andrew McMillan

Anatomy Lecture Theatre Summerhall, Edinburgh

Fiona Benson’s astonishing poems, shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize are searing in their intensity. Andrew McMillan’s explorations of contemporary masculinity, gay experience, and male bodies in Physical and Playtime have made an indelible impression on UK poetry.

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Reading and Discussion: Poems to Heal the Soul

Dissection Room 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh

Poetry has been a source of consolation and solace, community and reflection since time immemorial. How does poetry provide healing and recovery? What can poetry do like no other art form? Or does framing poetry in this way suggest saccharine Hallmark nonsense? Four leading poets – Billy Letford, John Glenday, Clare Pollard and Tawona Sithole – dive in, sharing their own work and other poems which have healed their souls.

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The Shape a Poem Makes

Histology Lab

Using a multilingual framework, haiku, and concrete poetry, Kevin MacNeil will explore the subtle ways poems build meaning by interacting with sound and, above all, resonant, though sometimes hidden, shape. Feel free to bring your own language backgrounds into the mix to discover how poetry can make meaning quietly but lastingly transcendent.

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Skittles, Scran & Stanzas: A Poetry Mile Live Walking Tour

Summerhall 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh

In honour of the Poetry Mile interactive poem-y app, we bring you a one-off celebration reading, feasting and game of skittles. The venue, of course, Scotland’s oldest inn—The Sheep Heid, situated in the historic Duddingston Village. A short game of skittles will be punctuated by readings from three prize-winning, Edinburgh-based poets and contributors to the app: Michael Pedersen, Janette Ayachi, and Peter McKay, one of the three having being Chief Pin Monkey at this very skittle alley for a period of their youth.

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Reading and Discussion: Virtual and Other Realities

Dissection Room 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh

Endlessly inventive, the late great Edwin Morgan published ‘Virtual and Other Realities’ in 2011, challenging convention and pushing the boat out to the last. Join this panel for a more on-the-nose exploration of one of the themes of our festival, with a focus on the ‘other realities’ revealed in the poetry of three very contemporary writers – Sam Riviere, Suzannah Evans and Nicky Melville, chaired by Scott J Lawrie.

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Obsidian Presents: Raymond Antrobus ‘All the Names Given’

Anatomy Lecture Theatre Summerhall, Edinburgh

Poetry is a space of dissonance and reckoning. In this event presented by the Obsidian Foundation, a retreat for black poets who want to advance their writing practice, Raymond Antrobus does us the unique honour of launching his most recent publication, All the Names Given.

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The Language of Childhood

Histology Lab

Adult poets are often afraid to experiment with onomatopoeia, alliteration, neologisms or nonsense, thinking they belong in children’s poems. In this session Clare Pollard, poet and author of Fierce Bad Rabbits: The Tales Behind Children’s Picture Books, will challenge this and delve into poets who draw powerfully on the language of childhood, from Ted Hughes to Rita Dove.

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Blood Salt Spring

Dissection Room 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh

In a moment that is demanding you constantly choose your side, how do you find your humanity, your own voice, when you are being pushed to find safety in numbers? Push the Boat Out is thrilled to be able to support and develop, in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland, a brand-new live performance commission from one of Scotland’s most exciting and challenging voices. In Blood, Salt, Spring Hannah Lavery (The Drift, Lament for Sheku Bayoh) journeys to discover her authenticity and her ‘tribe’.

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Double Bill: Cynthia Miller & Seán Hewitt

Anatomy Lecture Theatre Summerhall, Edinburgh

What do we revere? Cynthia Miller’s Honorifics, shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize Best Collection, is experimental and elevating, exploring family, Malaysian-American heritage, and the pull between the everyday and the miraculous. Seán Hewitt, critic for the Irish Times and author of Tongues of Fire, a meditative, clarifying collection which intertwines meditations on family, loss, grief and Irish myth, is as insightful as it is lyrical.