Tag Archives: International poetry

‘Exuberant and electrifying’: Carly Brown on competing at the Poetry Slam World Cup

19 Jun

‘Are you actually Scottish?’

I was asked this question many times at this year’s Poetry Slam World Cup (Coupe du Monde) in Paris. It’s a fair question considering that I was representing Scotland in the competition, joining 21 other national champions from countries such as Russia, Gabon and Spain, to compete for the title of World Champion. Although I have called Scotland home for the last three years, I am not actually Scottish. Before arriving at the competition, I felt pretty self-conscious about this fact. I even memorized a few lines from ‘Scots Wha Hae’ on the plane to Paris, in an attempt to lend myself some Scottish credibility.

However, within minutes of arriving at the Culture Rapide (a eclectic café in Paris’ Chinatown which served as the festival hub), I learned that the U.S national champion, Thuli Zuma, was originally from South Africa and the English champion, Stephanie Dogfoot, was born in Singapore. The diverse backgrounds of the other slam poets was one of the most interesting aspects of the Coupe du Monde. I quickly learned that the World Cup was less of a competition between different nations than an international celebration of Slam Poetry.

Carly in Paris with Sweden's Niklas Mesaros (left) and Denmark's Michael Dyst.

Carly in Paris with Sweden’s Niklas Mesaros (left) and Denmark’s Michael Dyst.

Although some of the other competitors were seasoned Slam veterans, I’m still a relative newcomer to the slam scene. I attended my first poetry slam three years ago as a fresher at the University of St Andrews and I was immediately drawn to Slam because it seemed to be a marriage of my two passions: acting and writing. After winning a few student slams, I entered the StAnza Slam in March 2013 and won. I then went on to win the Scottish National Slam in Edinburgh, securing my place as the Scottish National Champion (and my slot in the World Cup). So, this June, accompanied by three university friends (one of whom is actually Scottish), I set off for the Coupe du Monde.

The Coupe du Monde took place between June 3-9th this year. For one week, we watched 21 talented poets perform their original poetry in their native languages, from the deadpan comedic verse of Denmark’s Michael Dyst, to the exuberant and electrifying words of France’s Eupédien Deschardons. One of my favourite poets was Israel’s Ellen Potless, both a charismatic performer (as she crooned out melodic syllables in Hebrew) and a talented writer, grappling with themes like national identity in her poem ‘Jerusalem’.

coupe du monde

The multi-lingual nature of the World Cup, however, was not without its issues. Although translations of the poet’s words were supposed to appear on a screen, in both French and English, as he/she performed, many of the translations were inaccurate or out of sync. At one hilarious and frustrating moment during the Final Round, the projector actually broke! However, despite all of these translation errors and technological mishaps, the energy and enthusiasm of each competitor was easily understood and appreciated by the French audience, who laughed and applauded on cue despite the language barrier.

As a proud unofficial Scot (and a committee member of StAnza), I am pleased to report that I won 4th in the competition overall, placing higher than any other English speaking poet. First place went to Quebec’s Simon Roberts, Second went to Gabon’s Didier Tanguy and Third to Spain’s Daniel Orviz. I would like to extend a heart-felt congratulations to all of the poets I met that week and a thank you to my friends who travelled from the U.K to support me in Paris. It was one of the most inspiring, exhilarating and exhausting weeks of my life and I was honored to take part. Go Scotland…Vive L’Ecosse!

 Carly was interviewed by Le Point magazine while in Paris: see the video here

StAnza opens up brave new worlds of poetry

26 Sep

StAnza took part in a worldwide round of poetry readings on Saturday 24th September, organised by the World Poetry Movement. A  small but beautifully assembled group of  poetry folk gathered in the sunlit Byre Theatre, surrounded by a hefty pile of books and plenty of coffee to replenish us during an afternoon of informal readings and chat.

Ours was just one of 874 poetry readings and events in 540 cities in 107 countries that were planned, with the emphasis on promoting peaceful international links.

 And indeed, from our comfy chairs, we managed to cross oceans and continents, choosing poetry that was new to us, inspiring, or by poets we knew and wanted to share. From the Seine to Struga, from Palestine to the shores of California, it was quite a journey. And, in the spirit of Cavafy, having enjoying the travelling, we might set out on another trip soon.

The World Poetry Movement  (WPM) was founded in Medellín (Colombia) on July 9, 2011, and includes 108 international poetry festivals, 88 poetry projects and 1.016 poets from 126 countries.

StAnza’s Summer Open Mic

7 Jul

SAnza’s inaugural Summer Open Mic took place last night in Zest Juicing and Coffee Bar in St Andrews. This was our second joint venture with the lovely people at Zest, following the great success of the Early Evening Open Mic held in the same venue during last March’s festival. This time around, over fifty people braved the changeable Fife summer weather for a splendid couple of hours of coffees and smoothies, cakes and cookies, songs and poetry.

The event was run in collaboration with the University of St Andrews Creative Writing Summer School programme, and so as well as local poets from Fife and Tayside (a mixture of familiar faces and new arrivals), and the course tutors and staff, there was also an international feel to the evening with a selection of aspiring young poets from New York, Philadelphia, California, Brazil, Columbia, Uruguay and elsewhere. Several of the students read poems they had written in workshops that very morning: from page to stage in under six hours, poetry doesn’t get much newer than that.

Our MC for the evening, Milton Balgonie, asked the people signing up for slots to supply “one fact about you”, and these included, in no particular order: “I’m a glider pilot”; “I spent yesterday at the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood”; “makes a mean risotto & is a devil with a chainsaw”; “I have curly hair”; “blankets frighten me”; and “once trained an emu to assist with handicapped children”.

We also had a passing poet who was on his way to dinner further along the street, but who noticed the open door (and the open mic), and so stepped in to read a poem.

And by the end, even the sun showed up again to close off a fine and fabulous evening for all.

   

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