Cooking up a storm on a Tuesday night: Open Mic

Louise Boyd joins the blogging team to give her thoughts on our monthly open mic:

Firstly, we threw in all the vital ingredients: the warmth of the Forest Cafe, plenty of lovely, receptive audience members, a generous helping of talent and a pinch of microphone. Then we added one of Scotland’s top contemporary authors, Sophie Cooke, published by Random House no less, and allowed the mixture to simmer for two hours. And simmer it certainly did…

D.F.A.P poetry slam winner, and all-round sassy lady, Caitlynn Cummings opened the night with two short stories, of two very different tones. Firstly, an in foetal take on pregnancy, was both hilarious and terrifying (a new method of contraception perhaps?) I particularly liked the ‘evil baby’ laughter. Her second story Chloe was a poignant look at identity, through the eyes of a cancer patient.

Cheeky rhymer Tickle followed with his rhythmic, political style that draws you in, with a couple of I-shouldn’t-laugh-but-I-am-anyway old people jokes thrown into the mix. Then I took the chance to read out a few of my flash fiction stories. Getting up on stage to read out your work is a bit like walking down the street naked with a sign covering your vital parts that reads Judge Me: but if your audience is as receptive as the Inky Finger audience and you do it enough times, you know, it starts to feel alright.

Next, James MacKay gave us a taste of his new book of poetry Quiet Circus, asking us to consider which is worse: bad sex or bad poetry? It’s a toughie. He regaled us with tales of unfriendly Eskimos and ended with a prayer for bagpuss. Yes. A prayer for bagpuss. Our very own Rachel McCrum wasn’t sure how she was going to follow that one up, but she brought a wee tear to my eye with her story about an elderly couple, enduring love, all delivered in those dulcet Irish tones. I particularly liked hearing about the different parts of Edinburgh, it brought a real sense of place to the evening.

Al Young gave us his cynical take on movie conventions and declared ‘I give James Bond the goldfinger’. Promising young writer Elliot captured us all with his tale of a tragic railway suicide. Finally, Bram Gieben a.k.a. Texture closed the first half with lucid tale of the scars that a poisonous love can leave, and his thoughts on riding high with death ‘better to dance with the bony bastard, than lay down with him’.

The second half opened with a real treat: Sophie Cooke read an as yet unpublished short story which is due to be published later in the year in Sarajevo. It was a beautiful tale of relationships, which Sophie delivered so mesmerizingly the entire audience hung on every sentence and the technique and style in her prose was truly inspirational.

Next Alec Beattie delivered some powerful confrontational prose based on an altercation with a well meaning member of the public and a less desirable character. Rob Andrew offered up a sassy, sensational and scathing view on the world of pornography. Rihanna Maclean gave an enchanting rendition of some of her favourite poems. Then Saskia Nilson prolonged the dreamlike mood with Sticks, a gorgeous piece of prose poetry. Laura Gavin took us on an eerie journey Under Castle Rock, which reminds me I really must try to avoid that grotty bulging eyed monster next time I’m heading home from the pub. Another Inky Finger took to the stage in the form of Matt McDonald who treated us to ten haikus and one poem he had written that day, that revealed him, somewhat unexpectedly, to be a big softie! Rory Woodroffe followed with a passionate performance that channelled ideas on nature and the human condition. Keith Mackie, a favourite from our D.F.A.P. slam, gave us Dr Who in the style of Irvine Welsh and dropped more c-bombs than Rab C Nesbit on an angry bender. Ya radge!

Our MC Harry closed the show in his wonderfully enthusiastic manner with some of his own poetry. A handful of haikus for all those poets out there on the dole, which Harry assets would be, erm, most of them. Then the story of a gender confused gingerbread man, poor wee guy. I heart Leith Walk. Really? The line between heart and hate is a fine one Harry reckons, and I agree.

And so the night drew to a close. Out we drifted into the cold, dark February night, performers and audience alike, with smiles on our faces and the warmth of words in our hearts. Until next time folks!

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