Push The Boat Out: Edinburgh's poetry festival to embrace football, video-gaming, hip hop and mythical monsters

Musicians, DJs, rappers, authors, football, video-gaming and cocktail-making will be brought together under the one roof for a new international poetry festival in Edinburgh.

Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch, singers Emma Pollock and Carla J Easton, all-girl rap outfit The Honey Farm and official poets for Scottish football clubs and the national women's team will perform at Push The Boat Out in November.

They will join leading figures from the Scottish scene, including Tom Pow, Hollie McNish, Michael Pedersen, Leyla Josephine, Alycia Pirmohamed, Iona Lee and Don Paterson, at the three-day event, which will be staged for the second year at arts centre Summerhall.

Kathleen Jamie and Hannah Lavery, the respective Scottish and Edinburgh Makars, will be among the other Scots poets appearing, along with song-writing collective Hen Hoose, author Kirstin Innes and Stanley Odd rapper Dave Hook.

The all female and non-binary songwriting collective Hen Hoose will be appearing at Edinburgh's Push The Boat Out festival in November.

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    The coming edition of the festival – instigated after Covid brought live events to a halt in 2020 – features more than 80 different poets, performers, artists and speakers appearing across around 50 events.

    Special guests include Roger Robinson, the second writer of Caribbean heritage to win the UK's coveted TS Eliot Prize in 2019, leading German poet Nora Gormringer, Malaysian-Australian author and rapper Omar Musa, and Brian Bilston, who has been dubbed the “Poet Laureate of Twitter”.

    Programme highlights include a celebration of the work of British black poets in the UK, a rap-writing workshop, a special event inspired by a map of the “mythical beasts of Scotland” and a “rhymes, rum and rusty nails” cocktail-making class, complete with poetry performances accompanying each drink.

    Festival director Jenny Niven said: “From time immemorial we've looked to poetry, story and language to help us interpret and understand the world around us. Right now, there’s an incredible richness of artists doing that in so many diverse ways, and that is undoubtedly resonating with wider and wider audiences.

    Push The Boat Out, Edinburgh's new interational poetry festival, was launched in 2021. Picture: Kerstin Hollube

    "As we've expanded our notion of what poetry is – more open, democratic and vibrant than the old stereotypes might have you believe – there's also been a change in the things we're willing to call 'poetry'.

    "Our festival creates a new platform for Scotland where that particular Venn diagram of artforms can come together and cross-pollinate and collide – spoken word, live music, hip hop, song-writing, film, sound, gaming, visual art and concrete poetry.

    “There's an audience out there who want to experience poetry as a live artform right now and this festival creates the space for them to do just that.

    “This year's programme reflects all of these ideas and much much more, showcasing some of the most interesting, eclectic and skilful poetry and language arts around.

    Michael Pedersen will be among the poets appearing at Edinburgh's Push The Boat Out Festival when it returns in November. Picture: Hollie McNish

    "We've been knocked out by the response from the incredible artists and poets who've agreed to come on board the good ship this year and cannot wait to bring them all together for audiences this November."

    Alan Bett, head of literature and publishing at Creative Scotland, one of the festival’s main backers, said: “Push The Boat Out provides a space not only for performance, but for important discussions to be had on the impact poetry can make.

    "It also pushes against any pre-conceived boundaries of artistic form, platforming rappers, musicians and others who work creatively with words, allowing these events to connect with as wide an audience as possible.”

    Poet Janette Ayachi will be appearig in Edinburgh's Push The Boat Out festival in November.
    Edinburgh's Push The Boat Out festival will return in November.
    Edinburgh's Push The Boat Out poetry festival will be returning in November.