Hosted by Kevin Mclean
There’s no pomp or pretension; what Loud Poets does from the onset is encourage and offer inspiration to audiences who perhaps wish to find a footing within the spoken word community or want to appreciate it. There’s no lingering start, no extended explanations or push for interactivity; from the onset host Kevin Mclean struts onto the Storytelling Stage eager to introduce spoken word newbies and reacquaint dab hands to the city’s glorious celebration of poetry.
Bringing audiences in with some welcoming chatter, offering a slice of his own talented craft and recitation, Mclean sets up any of the more unsure that they are in a welcoming space where ideas can flow as fluidly as the words. Mclean’s moment in the spotlight, whether it be a heroic ballad on fending off an eight-legged monstrosity or a touching and well-constructed expression of loss – it’s easy for the host McLean to become lost against the four-strong line-up but is true merit to the evening itself.
This evening audiences were in for an outstanding line-up with Len Pennie, Mark Grist, Courtney Stoddart, and the always charming Kevin P Gilday, who, from warm-up introductions to a Jukebox round-off Poetry battles provides a master class in the art of spoken word and tasteful shirts. All ending with a more intimate setting for each poet the space to perform a selection of work – Loud Poets is a smorgasbord of talent, technique, skill, and yes, the occasional bit of smut.
There’s a very distinct rhythm within much of Grist’s structure – whether it be the kid-friendly versions of poems or not and serves as a reminder of his talents which stretch into the world of rapping (we recommend Mark Can’t Rap for all our Podcasting fans). And though all onstage this evening have a pedigree with storytelling, Grist’s effortless ability to weave and construct while entertaining is enviable: not resorting not fearing to create empty spaces to perform a set-up or exposition. His more comedic pieces like It’s Still A Fucking Poem are, without question, a ludicrously delicious highlight that shatters any elitist viewpoints which have afflicted the connotations of Spoken Word.
Offering some of the more distinct punches and necessary weight to the evening, with only their second live performance, Len Pennie’s involvement is a rare treat, and an exceptionally gifted and authentic one at that. For those following the Scots poet’s rise through the onset of the Pandemic on TikTok and social media, they will be familiar with Pennie’s encouraging, genuine and belter attitude to both performing and storytelling. Pushing to stitch their pride and advocacy of Scots leid into the audiences, they conceive numerous fierce and barmy, and often ballistic pieces fighting for equality, representation, and kindness (maybe no to the lads of Dunfermline).
Though admitting to stepping back from live performances of late to focus on travelling, Courtney Stoddart’s last-minute appearance to stand in for Mae Diansangu is an equally excellent addition to the line-up and demonstrates the dedication and support of those involved with the Loud Poets and spoken word community. Often with a much lengthier recitation and occasionally a more traditional structure to their poems, Stoddart provides an anchoring point through the evening with a terrific quality of verse and imagery. Stoddart’s language control is charming, powerful were called upon, and very welcome addition to the line-up – and hopefully a return to more live performances.
Now. We’ve seen a fair few of these events: we’ve reviewed just as many. Last night at the Scottish Storytelling Centre Loud Poets was something quite remarkable – perhaps one of the more authentic and less rehearsed evenings the group have performed. From the more traditional talents of Grist or Stoddart to an undiluted, beautiful composition of Pennie and Gilday, Loud Poets continues to offer a platform for our oldest form of expression – word.
In English, in Scots, in Free Verse or Sonnet – this continuing veneration is an experience to be shared as widely as possible. As we saw earlier last week, institutional juggernauts of culture and art are no longer safe. And while it’s reaffirming to know of Creative Scotland’s continuing involvement with I Am Loud Productions, this is a form of entertainment and educative evening which should at some point be experienced. There will be something to inspire, something to adore; there will definitely be something to take away.