Poetic highlights at the Fringe

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Are you planning a festival visit and feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the poetry and spoken word on offer? Help is at hand: we’ve picked out a few highlights to see you through.

There are plenty of poetry shows showcasing a range of different performers, which can be a great way of discovering new favourites, whose full-length shows you might want to check out. We’re particular fans of Other Voices, a cabaret-style open mic dedicated to amplifying voices less heard, and She Grrrowls, a feminist arts night with regular feature sets as well as an open mic.

BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam

Another great place to discover new voices is the annual BBC slam, which brings together talent from across the UK for some hot competition. The heats for this are already underway, but you can catch the last three heats each week-night this week (8.30pm at the BBC grounds outside George Heriot), or nab yourself a ticket to the grand final on Sunday (which is free but ticketed) to see who’s crowned a winner.

This Script and Other Drafts

A spoken word show from that powerhouse of Scottish performance poetry, Jenny Lindsay (StAnza 2018), This Script and Other Drafts promises a particularly pertinent look at sex, gender and feminism. With a voice which is as eloquent as it is defiant, the show mixes poetry, polemics and plenty of laughs. Over the past few years, Lindsay’s mainly been known for her showcasing and championing of other spoken word artists, so the chance to see her perform in her own show is a rare joy. Find out more and buy tickets here.

Elvis McGonagall: Full Tartan Jacket

If you like your poetry sharp as a tack with a healthy dose of acerbic wit, then Elvis McGonagall’s (StAnza 2015) free fringe show is for you. A consummate performer with a real stage presence, the former world slam champion never disappoints. More info here.

Loud Poets: The Fantastical Game Show Spectacular

You’re always guaranteed a slick, highly conceptualised (and, yes, loud) experience with the Loud Poets’ (StAnza 2017) fringe show, and this year is no exception. Each night the Edinburgh-based collective perform alongside guest poets from the local and national stage in a “fantastical game show spectacular”. No, we don’t know what that means either. But we’re pretty sure it’s going to be great. For more information and to buy tickets, check out the Fringe website.

147Hz can’t pass

This spoken word show by Ink Asher Hemp, a relative newcomer to the Scottish poetry scene, is well worth checking out. Making good use of a minimal set and simple videos, 147Hz can’t pass really shows off the potential of spoken word. Hemp’s performance is strikingly direct and immediate, and their exploration of transgender and non-binary topics is often beautiful, sometimes funny and always necessary. Tickets and more information here.


Of course, there’s plenty of poetry going on outside of the Scottish capital as well! If you’re enjoying the summer in London and missed her at StAnza 2018, do check out Hannah Raymond-Cox’s solo show, Polaris, on 19th and 20th August. A queer coming of age story with dark humour and some wonderful evocations of foods, the show really makes clear why Hannah nabbed the title of StAnza slam champion 2016. Get your tickets while they last!