The SPL has flirted with the Festival before. We’ve taken part in events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The School of Poets have long held al fresco readings at the Library during August, which poets up for the Festival are welcome to take part in (and which are being held again every 2pm, 14 – 18). This year marks a break with the past in that for the first time the Library itself will be a venue in the evening for Fringe shows.
A range of shows with a poetry or spoken word angle will take place at the SPL throughout August. A good example is Imogen Stirling’s #Hypocrisy (8-12 August, 7pm, £7). Stirling, a spoken word performer, examines contemporary contradictions through poetry, comedy and music. She takes to task the way in which the public rations its sentiment, sorrowing for (Western) victims of terrorism while hardening their hearts against the migrant crisis.
Poet and musician Colin Bramwell presents Umbrella Man (13-18 August, 5.15pm, £8 / £6 / £3), ‘the tragicomic story of a sandwich artist who attempts to prove that the earth is flat’. Using poetry, storytelling and improvised piano, Bramwell plays a latterday Don Quioxte.
The organisers of That’s What She Said are also on a quest, but they’re not tilting at windmills. In London, For Books’ Sake’s spoken word night has become a fixture on the London literary scene; ‘the biggest spoken word night in London for women,’ according to the Evening Standard. Relocating to the SPL for the Fringe, That’s What She Said will present a showcase of irreverent poetry, stand-up and storytelling by women with a different line-up every day (16-18 August, 7.30pm, £10). Inclusive, empowering, and inspiring, That’s What She Said has daily open-mic slots available for women and non-binary identifying performers of all ages and backgrounds. Performers slated to take part include Jenny Lindsay, Salena Godden and Leyla Josephine.
Late in the month, the Poets Republic checks in with their Unleashed show. Poets Republic, in case you were unaware, is a literary magazine whose self-declared ‘guiding principle is that we strive to publish poetry that is hard to ignore’. Over two days, with two shows on each day (24-25 August, 2pm and 7pm, £5), the Poets Republic will launch its latest issue with poetry that is both political and humorous.
The 900 Club (3-12 August, 9pm, £5) is a play which sees its characters reunited on a 900 Megabus to Edinburgh five years after the death of a mutual friend caused a split. Dove Tales (11 August, 1pm) is a charity that advocates for peace. An anthology was published in its name earlier this year and a selection of writers who contributed will take part in readings. Claire Askew and Dominic Stevenson bring London poetry night Listen Softly to the SPL (14-15 August, 7pm); their open mic slot particularly encourages poets with disabilities.
Look out for Ken Cockburn’s daily poetry walks departing from the Library (6-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-27 August, 11am, £9 / £6). Reading the Streets is ‘an Old Town Poetry Tour’, weaving through courtyards, kirkyards and vennels. Hear poems about Edinburgh’s past and present written by famous residents and visitors including Robert Burns, Victor Hugo and many more.
Finally, on 23 August, the SPL will host an event to mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. Details on what the events will look like and who’s appearing are evolving at the time of going to press, but even at this stage it looks as if it’s going to be an important event.
We anticipate more shows being added to our Fringe programme before August, so best to keep an eye on our website and social media for further details. And remember – the Library will be open as normal over August.