Loud Poets

Spoken Word, Scottish Storytelling Centre, 9pm until the 31st August

Loud Poets is a spoken word event with a lot of noise behind it. Six different spoken word performers present, backed by a three-piece band with keyboard, violin, cajón, and occasional singing. The poets, from the excellent Scottish-based collective of the same name, perform with guests at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Their venue is a mid-sized auditorium – dark except for the spotlights on the performers. Their pieces are interspersed with video montages projected above the stage. The hour starts with a short film with a silly, ironic, false and pompous eulogy of trees and mixed-up science, such as “If Galileo hadn’t discovered gravity, we wouldn’t be here”. Other clips include members of the Loud Poet collective answering questions such as “what can’t you write about?”

Like these sections, much of the show is an ode to the joys and power of writing, and several poems address this explicitly. The glorious finale, ‘Why do you write?’, was performed perfectly by four of the poets and was admirably accompanied by audience participation.

However, the poems also covered a whole range of topics and emotions: from the funny to the serious, from Doug Garry and Kevin Mclean’s joint effort about nerds to Miko Berry’s piece on schoolyard love and Katie Ailes’ intriguing look at how it feels to have a sperm donor father. Kevin Mclean’s piece, on feeling unfinished after the loss of his mother, was particularly touching and sorrowful.

Each night’s show also features a guest poet. Sara Hirsch’s performs on a number of dates: her piece on the joys of being a children’s’ performer and about being embarrassed to talk about her job was particularly memorable.

Not all the poems were effective, however; some lost their thread and purpose because of their focus on beautifying through metaphor. Similarly, while the backing band fitted perfectly with some sections and effectively adding to the poems’ poignancies, it clashed for others and thus the music distracted from the performance.

The recent YouTube sensation, Agnes Török’s two poems – great in their own right -worked better in her owns solo show, and the backing band detracted from their impact. Her other performances at Piligrim’s bar were arguably more original than the others on offer here.

A montage of poets from around the world saying ‘I am a Loud Poet’ also felt like unnecessary propaganda. However, these were small blemishes on an otherwise enjoyable night.

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