Turtlenecks and finger-snapping have no place in this vibrant spoken word event. Last Friday, the award-winning Loud Poets staged their monthly performance at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, showcasing some of the UK’s most talented spoken word poets. ‘To infinity and beyond’ was the theme, from which the poets took their inspiration.
Located in the thriving heart of Edinburgh, the Scottish Storytelling Centre exists to preserve and revive traditional Scottish storytelling, supporting the art even as it makes new developments in the modern era. Upon entering the centre, the history hanging in the air is nearly palpable; stories seep from the books of Scottish folklore for purchase in the corner.
Eclectic is one word to describe the crowd, which arrived to be entangled in a moment of beautiful words. Young students and adults alike shuffle into the venue’s waiting area, a cozy cafe spotted with artful wooden tables and decor. As the voice on the loudspeaker calls for the house’s opening, the mass of poetry-lovers descend to an intimate, dimly-lit theatre to await the onslaught of stories.
The charismatic Kevin Mclean stands as the host of the night, opening up the session with his own poem along the theme of ‘infinity and beyond’. Raw storytelling talent enlivens the nostalgic poem and ushers the audience into a night of poetry as they have never known it before.
The star-studded event introduces four of the UK’s most notable spoken word poets, including Lloyd Robinson, Katie Ailes, Carly Brown, and Dagogo Hart. Every poet’s work is tinged with their own unique style, although there are still a few particularly standout pieces. Robinson’s exploration of love, memory, and even artificial intelligence paints a picture of a life well-examined, while the sharp-edged and witty delivery of Katie Ailes highlights her as a key figure on the spoken word scene. Her final poem, discussing the influence of her father on her life, exudes an incredible gravity and picks at the most sacred parts of the listeners’ hearts.
Carly Brown prolongs this brevity of delivery, even adding an extra dose of humour to the stage. Her discovery of the reality of Santa Claus is an audience favourite, and returns the biggest laughs of the night from the audience. Dublin-bred Dagogo Hart brings his own charm and effortlessness to the stage too, digging into subjects as heavy as slavery and immigration.
Although there is no mention of Toy Story, the theme of ‘to infinity and beyond’ fits perfectly into what this new age of poetry should be. Poems, phrases, and even just words breathe new life into us and allow us to envision the world as it could be. In the same way, spoken word enlivens poetry and causes words to leap from the page, through the air, and straight into the souls of the listeners – to infinity and beyond.
Image: Loud Poets