On Friday 3rd February, Flint & Pitch presents the first of a series of shows at the Scottish Storytelling Centre dedicated to providing a new and exciting platform for spoken word theatre. Headlining, we have Luke Wright’s brand new show ‘The Toll.’ Support comes from two exciting, emerging acts in Scottish spoken word, Colin McGuire and Michelle Fisher.
Here, they speak to Freddie Alexander about their new work, their influences, and what they’ll be doing before the show! Come along to hear these great new acts, alongside one of the UK’s most exciting poets. Tickets here.
(Colin McGuire in an excerpt from The Wake-Up Call)
Tell us about the show that you are developing
Colin: The Wake up Call is a series of poems connected by sleep. I first performed it in in the summer of 2015 at the Edinburgh Fringe. The show was based on my first chapbook ‘Everybody lie down and no-one gets hurt’, which is a collection that deals directly with sleep.
Sleep is a shared common experience. Very few people or species can go without sleep. I was interested in sleep as a biological process, as something ‘good’ that we experience every night. Equally, sleep disorders intrigued me. Insomnia, for one, and general sleep disruption too. I wanted to apply that process to the world at large, to use sleep or lack of sleep as an analogy for unrest in the world. I wanted to reduce the problems of the world at large to the problem of sleep, in order to understand sleep better, and to praise and encourage a good night’s sleep in the world.
Michelle: Love: In The Minor Key is about the side of love we don’t often see portrayed in TV and movies. What happens when love doesn’t go as planned? What happens to you as a person? I wanted to write about love from this angle as I don’t come across it in literature very often – it’s not about having a broken heart – it’s about the impact and the change that it creates in it’s wake.
The show isn’t necessarily about romantic love, although that will be explored. It will look at familial love, self-love and exploring ways in which identity is shaped and altered by these complex processes.
I think it’s important, especially as a woman, to not simply be the heroine in a love story. It’s so much bigger than that. Sometimes love hurts, and sometimes that leaves scars that we never recover from. Not all scars heal, and I want to remind people that that’s normal and that you’re not alone in feeling that.
(Michelle Fisher, photo credit: Chris Scott)
What is your poetry background?
Colin: I have always written. I read ferociously. Too much perhaps. I have one chapbook, and two full collections, two of which are with Red Squirrel Press. I have a third full collection that is just about complete, and will hopefully be out in 2017.
I have been published in various anthologies, websites, books, etc. I perform regularly in Scotland, and have done for over eight years, more or less. Why? I come to terms with things. To understand. To hear what others have to say. To compare mythologies. To learn.
Michelle: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and poetry came much later. I had planned on being a novelist. I then moved into writing short stories and novella type pieces. After that I took a creative writing class, where I discovered poetry. I really wasn’t a fan of poetry in high school. It was stuffy and complicated and full of long, grand metaphors. My perception changed when I started writing my own poetry and reading work that I found enjoyable. I started performing just over a year and a half ago on a whim, after responding to a shout out for a female poetry performer. I’ve never looked back.
What is the difference between writing single poems and longer shows?
Colin: My show is made up of a series of single poems performed together. If that makes The Wake Up Call a ‘long form’ show then I’d say I’ve had to make sure to ‘connect’ the poems. This means finding the link that will make them work as a longer show, or a ‘connected set piece’ – making the link between the poems, gives it a longer, more robust connection.
Michelle: This is my first so I’m not sure! My approach is to write single poems and then expand them where necessary and write flawless transitions. My show follows a timeline, so I might have it easier than if it were a singular event.
Who have been your influences?
Colin: I would usually list off a series of writers and poets. But I won’t. Experience is the greatest influence. My psychological conditioning is my greatest influence, in that it governs so much of my choices, my idiosyncrasies, my biases, my tastes, my errors.
The people I meet, the people I work with, all of these serve to feed and shape what and why and how I write.
Michelle: The first poet I ever loved was Seamus Heaney. I’d say Patti Smith, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Rosemary Tonks, Maya Angelou, Salena Godden, Hollie McNish, Pablo Neruda, Thomas Hardy. I could go on and on and on. My influences are pretty varied, for the most part probably aren’t ‘poets’. Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Mohsin Hamid are all writers I admire greatly and Nick Mulvey is probably my favourite songwriter. His lyrics are gorgeous.
My biggest influence is probably what happens around me, as I write a lot about people and current affairs.
What will you be doing 5 minutes before your show starts?
Colin: Putting on my pyjamas.
Michelle: Pacing, chain smoking, and panicking.
See you on the 3rd, if not before!
Freddie Alexander is a writer and events organiser based in Edinburgh. He has been a coordinator of the Soapbox and Inky Fingers Open Mic, and in 2014 he hosted the second National UK University Poetry Slam. In 2016 he produced K/RK, a fortnightly performance and interview series focusing on UK Live Poetry. He has been a features journalist for Broadway Baby, and has been featured on other independent poetry blogs. He will be conducting interviews with other forthcoming Flint & Pitch acts over the coming months. Welcome to the team, Freddie!