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Edinburgh Spoken Word

26th May 2011

Spoken word nights come and go. The earliest one I remember was Rodney Relax’s Yellow Café in what is now Medina. Being a producer and avid consumer of stories, I’ve never been very interested in exclusive poetry nights like Big Word or Is This Poetry? and somehow I've never become a regular at the Forest’s lit/music/poetry institution The Golden Hour. Recently, though, we’ve seen three new nights around the capital. They’re all different, they’re all great, and all of them are on nights you might otherwise spend watching dregs on TV. Get out and try them.

First up, on a occasional Sunday night, comes Illicit Ink. Cunningly situated in the Speakeasy, a lush hideaway on Blair Street, this is the brainchild of Napier creative writing students who have descended from their ivory tower wearing big stompy boots. No open mic here — the evening is themed (anti-Valentine, faeries, murder) and they try to introduce some little extra to every show, whether it be winged MCs or actual interrogations. An intimate event to make the weekend last longer.

Winning the prize for easiest venue to remember is Blind Poetics at The Blind Poet. This night takes over the entire pub on the second Monday of the month. Run by Weaponizer supremo Texture, who has one foot in the world of prose and one in the world of poetry (as well as a weird third foot in the world of music) it’s already made a name for carefully chosen programming and a buzzing atmosphere. Get there early to secure a sofa.

Finally, Inky Fingers is the most established “new” night. Run by a colourful collective, headed by the energetic figure of Harry Giles, Inky Fingers normally drops in to the Forest Café on the last Tuesday of the month. Unusually, they open up with a solid feature performer and only then switch to their open mic. Here, you’ll get a real roll of the dice: I've heard several startling pieces of literature which came out of nowhere and demanded more than their allotted time, and seen a performance which was as close to a lethal car crash as you can achieve with five minutes and a single microphone.

Inky are serious about this stuff. They’re organising their own small festival for August 8th–13th. Six days of spoken word, and perhaps the last chance to appear in the embattled Forest Café. You have until June 10th to propose something …