Spoken word at Edinburgh Fringe, from Attila the Stockbroker to Carol Ann Duffy

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Edinburgh in August! The buzz of the Royal Mile, the flyers thrust at you every few seconds, the dilemma of which shows to go to, and how much you can cram in … Write Out Loud has produced its annual guide to spoken word events at the Fringe this year.  It does not pretend to be comprehensive in any way. But from Attila the Stockbroker, pictured, to Carol Ann Duffy, from Dominic Berry to Liz Lochhead, from Spoken Word Cabaret to spoken word from Canada, plus Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists, there’s certainly a wealth of choice. 

Attila the Stockbroker will be dealing with Brexit, Trump and a diagnosis of bladder cancer in his show Undaunted. After 37 years, 3,500 gigs, 24 countries, 17 Edinburgh Fringes and with his 60th birthday coming soon, Attila reckons he is even more fired up now than when he started back in 1980. Undaunted is the title of his new poetry book, on sale after the show.

Saboteur award winner Dominic Berry’s internationally touring show No Tigers, about love, loss and Kevin Costner’s bottom, is at the Banshee Labyrinth.  

The poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, will be performing with  regular musical collaborator John Sampson, taking in a  memorial to the fallen of the first world war that counterpoints the poetry of the soldier with the laureate’s response, and a look at contemporary themes.

Nigerian-born poet and playwright Inua Ellams is performing An Evening with an Immigrant at the Traverse theatre. Described as “littered with poems, stories and anecdotes”, the show tells of escaping fundamentalist Islam, experiencing prejudice and friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen.

Frost and Lorca combines visual art with poetry. Celebrated British abstract artist Sir Terry Frost spent a decade creating work inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca, producing his Lorca portfolio: 11 poems in both Spanish and English each accompanied by an original etching by Frost. International performers and creatives come together to bring this portfolio to life at the National Museum of Scotland.

Matt Abbott covers the personal and the political, from council estates to the Calais Jungle, the chaos behind Brexit, the aftermath of the Thatcher years, overnight pie shops and MegaBus marathons, in his show Two Little Ducks.

Other Voices Spoken Word Cabaret, a PBH Free Fringe regular, is at the Banshee Labyrinth. Compered by Fay Roberts, it’s an “open-hearted open mic” with new guests daily. The regular east London spoken word night Rhymes With Orange returns to Edinburgh for the first week of the Fringe. Last year it had a sell-out run.

Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists – Steve Pottinger, Emma Purshouse, and Dave Pitt  - are taking the show they conceived and wrote about on Write Out Loud a few months ago to Edinburgh’s Black Market.

The Shaken and the Stirred brings  together five Canadian poets, including Canada’s parliamentary poet laureate, to mark their country’s 150th anniversary.

Veteran Edinburgh performer and former Scottish makar – national poet - Liz Lochhead teams up with saxophonist Steve Kettley to perform Somethings Old, Somethings New.

That’s What She Said, a London spoken word night for women combining poetry, storytelling and stand-up, makes its debut at Edinburgh this year.

And the late, great Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney is remembered in A While with Seamus Heaney, a tribute by award-winning Ulster actor-director Larry McCluskey. The poems are set within a frame of live music and commentary.





◄ Story of lost war poet of Wales is screened on BBC2

Tour of three locals to launch village's poems in pubs project ►


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steve pottinger

Thu 10th Aug 2017 10:46

Recommended: in addition to A Car Load Of Poets (Black Market 1, 2.40pm each day, with a different guest poet each show) I'd also like to draw your attention to 'My Cloth-eared Heart' by Melanie Branton (Black Market 1, 1.30pm). Powerful, entertaining, candid and beautifully delivered spoken-word.

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Greg Freeman

Thu 3rd Aug 2017 11:23

Good luck with the show, Steve!

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steve pottinger

Tue 1st Aug 2017 14:50

That's just helped me find another couple of events to drop in on while I'm up there. Thanks!
An addition to this list: A Car Load Of Poets from Hull are also in Edinburgh. On at the Black Market each afternoon at 2.40pm (or thereabouts).

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