Poetry! With a robot! (and, elsewhere, Susan Calman)

It’s in the nature of August in Edinburgh that you end up with some clashes.  Even so, I was gutted when I was asked to speak at the Science and Poetry event and realised it clashed with the tickets a friend and I had already got for Susan Calman.  I perked up a bit when Rachel suggested scheduling me for the second half so I could multi-task!

Then we turned up at the Udderbelly in Bristo Square only to find Susan Calman was running late (actually, she came out and told us herself.  She’s lovely, and every bit as short as she looks in her promotional material!)  I was starting to calculate how late I could reasonable wait to go in, and when I should decide to bail.  Thankfully, we were in by 6:15 and out again at 7:05, disaster averted since I wasn’t on till 7:45 and only 10 minutes away.

I really enjoyed Susan Calman, despite being over-conscious of time.  She is EXACTLY how she is on Radio 4 and Twitter so if you love her on Twitter (which I really do) you’ll love her show.  And don’t we all have lists of “reasons why nobody should marry me” – hers included dressing up her cats, having theme tunes for her cats, biting her toenails and being obsessed with DCI Tennison from Prime Suspect.  Only one of them overlaps with my own reasons…

By the way, she has a set of Edinburgh Fringe survival tips in a Guardian article that you might enjoy. And she’s doing a Fringe column for them every day.

So, off to Science and Poetry (required subtitle: “with a robot!!!”).  I was really disappointed to have to miss the sci-fi Russell Jones, and Emily Dodd who did an actual science experiment in her set. I arrived at the start of Ruth Aylett reading in tandem with Sarah the Robot, and the only reason I could get into Pulp Fiction bookshop was because someone was leaving, presumably out of claustrophobia.  The place was completely packed.

I loved Ruth and Sarah’s pieces, despite the odd glitch with Sarah not coming in on time.  I particularly liked the poetic spam that Sarah the robot had had addressed to her! I didn’t get any pictures – I hope someone else did – but here’s a reprise of me and Sarah at the Science Festival!

Kate and Sarah

I was next up after the break and feeling a wee bit nervous, especially this was the first reading of mine that my husband, my dad and my stepmum had come to!  It was a bit like being in a school concert and waving at the audience. I had great fun, though I wasn’t brave enough to do my memorised poems actually from memory – maybe next time!

Next up was Anne Connolly and Anna Dickie, who had a marvellous ‘double helix’ poem that interwove their lives at ages 7, 14, 28 and 56.  I absolutely loved this – great idea, great execution, great performance.

Finally, World Slam Champion Harry Baker.  (If I wasn’t already intimidated enough by reading with all these proper, published poets – and a robot – being on the same bill as the World Slam Champion was the icing on the cake!)  He was as fantastic as I knew he would be, having seen his bee poem linked by Emily.  Here it is if you haven’t seen it

I’m definitely going to try to get along to his show (Royal Oak, 12 noon daily) – he was brilliant.  He did a poem with a pi solo! (reciting digits of pi).  There was one about dinosaur love! And he’s not as terrifying as his publicity photo looks.

So, a great start to the Inky Fingers Minifest.  Lots more brilliant stuff going on this week.  And do stop by Pulp Fiction to pick up a ‘poetry polaroid‘ – there will be a poetry map of Edinburgh by Saturday!

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6 Responses to Poetry! With a robot! (and, elsewhere, Susan Calman)

  1. mwheelaghan says:

    Great post as ever! I wish I’d been at both events. Glad you didn’t let the nerves at performing in front of your family get to you :) Onwards !

    • Thanks Marianne! It was so ridiculously busy in the first half, but it self-regulated in the second to something more sensible. Mostly when I’ve performed in front of people I know it’s just been writing people (and a few of them were there last night), certainly not family!

      • mwheelaghan says:

        I didn’t realise how much having my family ie: my son/daughter/husband/sisters/brothers/aunty …( hem hem I have a big family!) present at a reading made me nervous until they weren’t there! I’m made of sterner stuff now! Funnily enough I was just reading some of Anne Connolly’s collection Love-in-a- mist the other day, would have been good to hear her too:) Oh – and when is your collection coming out? ;)

  2. mwheelaghan says:

    No, I didn’t! Thanks for this. Will make a note of the dates but suspect I’ll not be able to make it, but you never know :) As for submitting things, everything in it’s own time ;o)

  3. So sorry to have missed this Kate, but by the sounds of things I mightn’t have been able to squeeze into Pulp Fiction anyway. Well done on what sounds like a fab event!!

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