2007 - 2021

A Carrying Stream

Photo by Chris ScottLast year Colin Waters wrote: “Throw a stone in Edinburgh or Glasgow today and you’ll hit a poet. The Scottish spoken word scene has exploded, reaching a level of popularity last seen in the late 1970s, another era, coincidentally, when the issue of Scottish self-determination was in the air. A generation of poets has emerged who have grown up in an age of change, political and technological, with the internet providing them not only with new ways of sharing writing – through their websites, podcasts, Twitter – but also in some cases with a subject too.”

How would you gauge the strength of such a poetry revival? You could celebrate the re-opening of the Scottish Poetry Library, first conceived by Tessa Ransford in 1984. Like the National Theatre it stands as one of the new contemporary symbols of a more confident cultural place. You could consider that only in 1982 Andrew Motion published a Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry with a solitary Scottish representative in Douglas Dunn. That seems unthinkable now. The work of the likes of Robert Garioch, Norman McCaig, Edwin Morgan, Iain Crichton Smith, Ian Hamilton-Finlay and others might still not have the recognition it deserves but it is sustained and nurtured by a second and third generation of poets from Liz Lochhead to Kathleen Jamie to Carol Ann Duffy to Robert Crawford to Roddy Lumsden and a hundred more. But more than that they are continued and challenged by a whole new mob.

From Inky Fingers, Shift/ Collective, Rally and Broad, ANATOMY and Neu Reekie a whole new skein of poets and performers have flourished in recent years. It was spaces like these that allowed Kate Tempest to become the youngest person ever to win the Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry. That spoken word of all kinds is a staple part of many festivals, club nights, cabarets and cultural events shows an art-form on the ascendance, and one whose popularity has undeniably increased in the last decade or so in Scotland.
It’s surfing that wave of spoken word, performance, rap and lyricists (or whatever you want to call them) that we welcome Jenny Lindsay to the Bella board as Poetry & Spoken Word Editor. As a poet and promoter with over a decade of championing poetry and spoken word of all kinds, most recently as one half of acclaimed revue-show Rally & Broad, she’ll be helping Bella host events, assisting to curate our Soundcloud content and generally bringing culture to our ramblings. She won’t be throwing stones at poets.

Comments (2)

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  1. Derek says:

    I’m delighted that all the poem and story tellers I bumped into at the Book Festival will remain lithically unchallenged.

  2. James Dow says:

    The Returning
    I have been here before, again and again
    Deep in my soul the past does remain
    Other eyes scenes along with their dreams
    Every thing feels just at it seems
    I have held the targe and battle hammer
    Kept my nerve through murderous clamour
    Cried for our lost, loved all our own
    Time after time we all are re sown
    James Dow

    Scotland, the land of poet warriors

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