Rap, hip hop and rock stars to feature in Edinburgh's new 'boundary bending' poetry festival

Rappers, hip hop acts and indie-rock singers are to take centre stage in a new “boundary-bending” Edinburgh festival aiming to overturn perceptions about poetry.

Rap star Nova Scotia The Truth was the Scottish Album of the Year title last year.

More than 60 singers, writers and spoken word acts will be taking over arts centre Summerhall for three days for a major new addition to the city’s cultural calendar.

Scottish Album of the Year winner Nova Scotia The Truth, the first rapper to claim the title, Scottish hip hop favourite Solareye, indie-rock singer Roddy Woo mble, newly-appointed Makar Kathleen Jamie, author Kevin MacNeil, playwright Hannah Lavery and Caribbean poet Lorna Goodison ar e all confirmed to appear at Push The Boat Out.

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It is expected to transform “every nook and cranny" of Summerhall from 15-17 October, but is also being planned so it will be able to go ahead in some form if new Covid restrictions are brought in.

Kathleen Jamie was unveiled as Scotland's new Makar last month: Robert Perry/PA Wire

Push The Boat Out, which will feature open mic events, film screenings, debates, workshops and live music, song and dance was announced last year to coincide with the centenary of the birth of the late Edwin Morgan, Scotland’s first Makar.

Organisers are creating an app which will allow festivalgoers to experience the streets of Edinburgh through the eyes and ears of more than 25 poets.

They have been commissioned to create new work for bespoke walking tours which can be enjoyed within a square mile of Summerhall.

They say they want to create an environment where all variations of poetry can “grow, evolve and even collide” and explore new ways ways to bring poetry and audiences together by “challenging perceptions of what poetry is and how it can be enjoyed.”

The new Push The Boat Out festival will be staged at Summerhall in Edinburgh from 15-17 October.

Push The Boat Out, which has been backed by national arts agency Creative Scotland, Edinburgh University and sponsors Baillie Gifford, was developed in lockdown by producer and director Jenny Niven and Kevin Williamson, writer, publisher and co-founder of Edinburgh-based arts collective “Neu! Reekie!”.

Other acts due to appear at Summerhall include Roseanne Watt, Harry Josephine Giles, Ray Antrobus, Clare Pollard, Caroline Bird and Salena Godden.

The Poetry Mile project, which is hoped to help new students navigate their way around parts of Edinburgh, will feature the work of writers like Esa Aldegheri, Janette Ayachi, Helen Boden, Christine De Luca, Jenny Lindsay, Theresa Muñoz, Don Paterson, Michael Pedersen, Julia Sorensen and Alan Spence.

Push The Boat Out would become only Scotland’s second annual poetry festival, after Stanza, in St Andrews, which was launched in 1998 and is held every March.

Idlewild singer Roddy Woomble is part of the Push The Boat Out line-up.

Ms Niven said: “We’re so excited to be launching our inaugural Push The Boat Out programme after what’s been a difficult year for everyone, not least those working within the arts.

“That said, poetry is all about using language in new ways, to express new experiences, so if ever there was a time to explore this vital and vibrant art form, it is now.

“We feel incredibly lucky to be hosting our inaugural festival in a city so full of talent, at a time when there is so much to say, and off the back of a summer festival season that saw

performance take over more city spaces than ever before.

Jenny Niven is the co-founder of Edinburgh's new poetry festival, Push The Boat Out.

"With performers and artists spanning the full spectrum of this spectacular artform, from classical verse to hip hop, we can’t wait for audiences to come along and enjoy.”

Playwright and poet Hannah Lavery will be appearing at the new Push The Boat Out festival. Picture: Kat Gollock
Dave Hook, aka Solareye, is working on the musical with playwright Rob Drummond.
Nova Scotia The Truth will be part of next month's Push The Boat Out festival.
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