Popping my poetry cherry at Govanhill Poetry Splash

Today I went to my very first spoken word gig, and it was AWESOME! I’ll be the first to admit I got into poetry late in the game, possibly as a result of some very dry German love poetry forced upon me at school, but man oh man now I know what I’ve been missing! The fourth annual Govanhill Poetry Splash included readings from 5 fabulous poets: Jim Monaghan, Rachel Amey, Colin Poole, Hollie McNish and Bram E. Gieben.  
   
    
   

As is the case with so many things for so many people, I first heard about Hollie McNish when a friend posted one of her poems on Facebook. I can even remember which one. You can watch it here. This is the poem that got a spoken word noob into poetry, which is no mean feat!

If you’ve not heard about the Govanhill Baths Community Trust Project, you should definitely have a look at their site. Since 2004 they’ve engaged with the public, putting on events such as the poetry splash this afternoon as well as other arts projects, with an aim to reopen the derelict baths and restore them to their former glory.  

It was such a wonderful event, and I found it so difficult to narrow down my favourites. Rather than share ever piece performed, I thought I’d leave you with the four that spoke most to me. Unsurprisingly three of these four had definite feminist leanings!

Rachel Amey is someone I heard of for the first time this afternoon, and she is just excellent live. Her first poem, Feminine Hygiene” was my favourite, speaking out as a critique against the “sanitisation” of history, resulting in a distinct evasion of the role that women have played.  

Colin Poole, author of “Verse Versus the Bourgeoisie is someone who truly speaks from the heart. A dyed-in-the-wool socialist and a brilliant political commentator; my favourite poem of his was one titled Supermac”. Speaking through the voice of a greyhound at the races as an analogy for the proletariat, he refers to the “2-legged” human masters in place of government, capitalism, “the man”. Why should these gentle beasts race, run and work their paws off for the financial gain of their “masters”?  

Hollie McNish’s “Embarassed” is not only a poem about the stigma attached to public breastfeeding, but also also a social commentary on the hypocrisy of shaming mothers for exposing “a small piece of flesh” whilst tits, in their sanitised-for-public-consumption version, are everywhere. For male gazes, on billboards, on TV, everywhere.

My final fave is another Hollie McNish piece, “Bricks”, in which she speaks about the uniqueness of the different things that turn us on, in a world and a society that tells us unequivocally what should excite us; this body, that face, that voice, this look. It poses the question: if we are individuals, why are certain standards of attraction forced upon us?

What a tremendous way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon in Glasgow!

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