The Great Grog is a relatively new venue for poetry readings in Edinburgh, in the back lounge of a bar in Rose Street. It’s an intimate space, and I welcomed the chance to hear the poetry last night – I heard every word. It’s also a sociable space, a place to meet friends and have a catch-up between readings. The readings were excellent: Cheryl Follon led off, reading new poems as well as some from her Bloodaxe collection. I’ve read the collection, but hearing the poems in her voice added a new dimension to them. They are much more rhythmic and musical than I remembered them on the page. Christie Williamson, the Shetland poet, read new work in English and in Shetlandic dialect. The poems are lyrical, sometimes humourous, and sometimes sexy – a good set. I’ve heard Hazel Frew read before, and she gave a strong and confident reading, which I enjoyed very much. Finally, Sandy Hutchison, on fine form, read and sang. Some of the poems I recognised from his new Salt Collection – Scales Dog – others were new or not previously published. A super set, really entertaining. And I enjoyed Rob Mackenzie’s relaxed and informal introductions.
Among the friends, SallyE and Ian King, Andy Philip, Morelle Smith, Margaret Christie, and an old friend, Kevin Cadwallender, now back living in Edinburgh. We had a great time, which included reminiscences of the old Poems n Pints readings in the West End Hotel – Hamish Henderson, Mike Dillon, Keith Mackie, Roddy Lumsden and many others. That was also the venue where I first read in public. Seems like another age.
The next Great Grog session will be on Sunday 13th April. If you can, be there.