The Very Peculiar (and Wonderful) Burns Supper
I was reading on Saturday night at this event. We had readings from Debbie Baker, Laura Fyfe, Anita Govan, Emma Mooney, Ailie Wallace and myself, (I’ve seen all of them before, and thought I knew what to expect, but all of them exceeded expectations, And I will happily sign Anita Govan’s ‘manifesto’, This is Poetry, any day of the week) and there was music from Amy-Lou from Dunfermline. There was also a ‘lingo bingo’ (I won a haggis) and a jumping frog competition, and it was fabulous. There will be photos on Facebook shortly, taken by SweetP Photography, and they will be amazing. Many of the profile pictures I’ve used over the years are from Sweet P.
I’d like to thank the organisers, The Write Angle, Gossip Collective who created the opportunity to access the venue, and The Macrobert Theatre who opened the Workspace for us. You all gave us a wonderful night!
I have been associated with The Write Angle for a few years. It is an arts hub which opens up opportunities for emerging poets, artists and musicians (and even the most tentative of beginners) to practise and showcase their craft, by organising events, which are always free to attend (often donations are welcome, but there is never any pressure) at which people are encouraged, and not merely invited, to show what they can do. And the results are always astonishing.
It’s not always that we hear from undiscovered geniuses who have been hiding their lights under bushels – though it does happen rather more often than you might expect – but that people who didn’t think they could write, or didn’t think they had anything to say, or who didn’t think that making art was for the likes of them, are allowed to try out their own voices. They can rely on an atmosphere which will help them to discover that whatever they have to say finds its resonance with other people, that they will be heard with friendly attention. Some will find that they are unexpectedly amongst friends, or with people who share their experiences. Some will find that telling stories isn’t just gossip, but a way into sharing memories and creating history. Some will find that they’ve said something interesting, but they’d like to find ways of doing it better, and that there are people who will help them without making them feel dumb. Some will find that the rules and restrictions which intimidated them from speaking or writing or drawing don’t always matter. Some will find that there are ways of doing what they’ve been doing for ages that they never expected.
At Write Angle events, I’ve heard story-tellers who would shame the professionals, reflective writers who can discuss current preoccupations in a more immediate way than most journalists, and singers and musicians who will be a force to be reckoned with in a year or two. I’ve seen people trying out new art forms, people wrestling with poetry who never thought that poetry was for them, or people simply realising that the way they speak is the way they are allowed to write. I’ve seen people progress from little sketches of family life to moving portrayals of historical events or searing portraits of abusive relationships. I’ve heard people try their first spoken word performances, who then went on to try a slam. I’ve heard people articulate the kind of experiences you can only share in safe spaces, and find that they are indeed safe and supportive.
A lot of this is down to the organiser (whose name never appears anywhere on the publicity, so I won’t reveal it here). He is passionate about the arts, familiar with almost every event that goes on in the Forth Valley, and brings people together in his own inimitable flamboyant way. His initiative is one that resonates very strongly with me. Art is more than self-expression – though goodness knows, we need more of that, as society becomes more homogenous and more restrictive – it is a way we can begin to think more deeply about the shape and progress of our lives, and a way we can hold conversations with each other and find common ground. And it creates a space for something we are losing more and more – a shared sense of wonder, meaning and purpose. I love this contact with organisations who put their time effort and money where their hearts are.