By Cal McGregor
Poetry has long had a special place in Scottish culture. Anywhere that can hold Tom Leonard, Kathleen Jamie and Ivor Cutler in one hand and Don Paterson, Jenni Fagan and Roddy Lumsden in the other, can’t doing bad.
But not all was well. Language has a problem here.
As Stewart Sanderson has written:
“It would probably be correct to say that most, if not all, of the major twentieth century Scottish poets were deeply concerned with their place – the location of their utterance – and the form which that utterance took. The reasons for this are various, but principally reside in Scotland’s disrupted, stateless nationhood – a dissonance apparently crying out for resolution – and the resultant uncertainty of language in a country which possessed more varieties of words than official narratives could comfortably accommodate.”
However, this strange dichotomy, in a fresh context presents writers and performers with a curious, fruitful paradox.
What looks like the blooming of a movement with a long lineage SHIFT / is a new spoken word collective made up of seven of Scotland’s most dynamic spoken word artists – Harry Giles, Rachel Amey, Sam Small, Jenny Lindsay, Bram E Gieben, Rachel McCrum and Ali Maloney. At this year’s Fringe, the group is launching unique and original shows devised by each member, with ‘an unabashed blurring of the lines between poetry and performance, theatre and spoken word.’
The old traumas and dislocations seem to be blown away with less self-seriousness and more personal awareness. Deeply political but not imbued with the dusty aura of yesteryear, this new bucket of tongues appear to have overcome the death-grip of Scotland’s establishment poetry ‘mantle’.
Immediate and contemporary the SHIFT / collective probably hold this richness because they’ve been forged by the hard work of the performance circuit: Inky Fingers, Drone, Rally and Broad, ANATOMY and a thousand live performances. It’s great to see ambitious collaboration and the development of a movement that’s been finding its feet then getting into its stride for years.
See all details here.
Follow them here @ShiftWord