Being relatively new to the spoken word scene, I’m not yet totally au fait with all the names in amateur poetry. However, I am familiar with one of the most popular Scottish collectives: Loud Poets. So when the opportunity arose to go watch their showcase at the Fringe earlier this week, I jumped at the chance.
Self-described as “slam-style, make some noise, fist-thumping, side-tickling and heart-wrenching poetry”, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. I was initiated into the poetry world just six months ago – with some scepticism, I must add – where it was proved to me at an open mic that it is so much more than the dry anthologies I studied at school. They say good poetry makes you feel something. The Loud Poets are a prime example. As it turns out, their description is pretty spot on.
Beginning with a somewhat cringe-y film about how each member of the collective got into poetry and ending with them answering the question “why do you write?”, the whole evening is geared towards inspiring any new and potential poets in the audience. The Loud Poets hope to bring performance poetry into the mainstream. Beyond this overarching theme, the show does not stick to any particular structure – you move from Miko Berry’s smart but adorable piece on childhood crushes to Joe with the Glasses’ hard-hitting story about a father’s difficulty in explaining his prison stay to his daughter. However, it never felt that the show was lacking a structure either; each performance was able to stand in its own right and was loosely tied together with further footage of life as a Loud Poet.
The sudden changes of pace and emotion work well. It emphasises the diversity and range of the collective’s skill without being overbearing. Poems are engaging, thought-provoking and often fun, and whilst perhaps tailored to the stereotypical poetry crowd (a bit geeky, a little left wing), there is something for everyone. Not every piece was my cup of tea – perhaps a sign of its diversity rather than a bad thing – but the enthusiasm and feeling with which it was delivered could be appreciated throughout.
As expected, the Loud Poets capitalised on Agnes Torok’s recent youtube success with Worthless. Debuted at their 2014 Fringe show, the video was uploaded last month and has since received over 190,000 views – seen by many as a response to the general election though in reality it predates this. Her piece is even more powerful live, complete with musical accompaniment (which features throughout the show to complement each poet’s work) and raw anger.
It would be remiss of me to not mention my personal highlight of the show, which moved me to tears in its honesty and sincerity: Kev McLean’s Evelyn. Unravelling his grief at the loss of his mother, it is being performed on the anniversary of her death. He is open and truthful about his emotion – and it is beautiful to witness.
Loud Poet’s Fringe set is definitely worth seeing. Each night will be a little different with the entire collective not featuring all the time – so if you have a particular favourite it is worth checking they will be there when you’re attending. But tickets are going fast with their first sell-out show on Tuesday (and standing ovation). The Loud Crowd is growing, and I am one of them – ready to tell the world #IAmLoud.
Loud Poets are performing every night of the Fringe at 21:00 in the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Tickets are £10 (£8 concession).