Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Live Poetry in Edinburgh

The final Poetry at the... before summer was excellent (the next reading will be on September 8th). Allan Crosbie, Katy Evans-Bush, Andrew Philip and Zorras all did really well, each reading an effective contrast to the one before it. Katy has blogged about it in the middle of a long and funny post about her train journey home.

The audience was fairly small. The weather was horrible, which might have kept some people indoors, but it’s still worrying for a reading series promoter like me. I want the poets to have a good crowd because I think they are worth hearing – otherwise I wouldn’t book them. I also need people to come to make the reading series financially viable. Until April of this year, audience numbers were generally healthy, but two small crowds in a row have left me wondering whether I can keep the event going. I can’t if it continues like this. To complicate things further, I have to ask for £4 (£3 concessions) now rather than the existing £3 (£2 concessions).

I’ve decided to keep things moving until the end of the year, at least. That means September, October and November but, if people don’t come in greater numbers, I’ll have to stop the readings. Things have changed in the last couple of years in Edinburgh. There are far more venues for live poetry than there were, but I do think that ‘Poetry at the…’ is one of the best (well, I would say the best, but I’m clearly partisan). Good things all come to an end though. There’s no point in battling on and becoming stale and unwanted.

I am considering whether there needs to be a revamp at ‘Poetry at the…’ Maybe a few changes might re-awaken interest. There are several possibilities:

1. other acts in addition to poetry
2. one main poet doing a longer set, and another few doing shorter sets
3. music as well as poetry
4. a few ‘resident’ poets who read regularly in addition to guests
5. occasional open mics
6. fundraising activities, such as competitions and raffles
7. a paid mentoring scheme in which poets associated with ‘Poetry at the…’ could give advice on people’s poems – some money going to poets, some money going to finance the reading series.
8. workshops – same idea as item 7

In many ways, I feel the event is good as it is, but it needs to attract a more regular crowd who never want to miss an evening. Whether any of these things are needed or would have the desired effect, I’m not sure, but I’m giving it all thought.


Roddy said...

Is Sunday the best night though, Rob? I know SP works well on a Sunday, but it has a long history now.

Even in the busy London poetry scene, people steer clear of Sundays as a night for poetry - it's when you're least likely to get a crowd. Weekdays are much better...

Rob said...

You're probably right, Roddy. At the GG, another night was out of the question and it wasn't easy for me to find another possibility in any case.

However, that might have chanegd now. I might speak to the J&H to see if they are open to us coming on a different night. That wouldn't start until 2010 though, as I've booked people for most of 2009.