The Festival

3-6th November 2022

Push The Boat Out (PTBO) is Scotland's newest and (somehow only) second-ever poetry festival. We are inspired by the vibrancy and range of contemporary poetry, hip hop, and spoken word from Scotland, the UK, and further afield. Our aim is to not only give poetry a new platform, but to create an environment where all variations of this vital artform are encouraged to grow, evolve and even collide. We want to explore fresh, inventive ways to bring poetry and audiences together by challenging perceptions of what poetry is and how it can be enjoyed.  

'At Eighty', the late great Edwin Morgan’s unforgettable poem, is our namesake. The work is forward-looking and progressive; it encapsulates his persistent, indefatigable curiosity for the unknown, whatever it holds, come what may. Launched in the centenary year of Edwin’s birth, one of the most difficult and unpredictable of recent times, our project pays homage to his inestimable contribution to poetry and to his restless pioneering spirit.

At our first festival audiences experienced first-class performances from around 80 poets, emerging and established. PTBO took place within the creative spaces of Summerhall in Edinburgh, seeping into every nook and cranny of this established arts venue through multiple means - film, imagery, music, dance, debate and other forms of poetry performance. We commissioned over seventy poems for our free web app 'A Poetry Mile', on which users can experience Edinburgh differently, filtered through the eyes and ears of some of the country’s finest poets. The app generates bespoke walking tours depending on user preferences and continues to be available.

Poetry, whether political, personal or lyrical, whether it's written, performed, rapped, sung or signed, has been growing its audience at an unprecedented rate over the last decade. We need the arts as much as we ever have - for solace, for expression, for community, for resistance, for fun. Born out of a time of turbulence, the festival team, venue, founders and friends will keep finding fresh and inventive ways to present poetry, whatever the seas. 


The Team


Jenny Niven, Director

Jenny Niven has produced and directed festivals and events programs, mainly in literature, in Beijing, Melbourne and Edinburgh. She was previously Head of Literature at Creative Scotland and Acting Director at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She is currently Executive Producer on the epic programme of sowing and growing, Dandelion, and Chair of Literature Alliance Scotland. Perennially interested in the ideas which are fueling, inspiring and troubling our writers and thinkers, she is interested in new ways to have public conversations which centre the arts and creative thinking, to spread the word about Scotland’s brilliant writing, and to bring new poets and their ideas to our shores.


Emma Collins, Executive Producer

Emma Collins is a producer, arts consultant and coach. With a passion for storytelling, poetry and spoken word, she is the former Director of The Village Storytelling Centre and the founder, and current programmer and producer of the Village Storytelling Festival. Fuelled by curiosity, a restless spirit and the drive to work with great people to make brilliant things happen, she has had the joy of working with some of Scotland's foremost festivals, arts companies and creators in a variety of roles. 


Julie Amphlett, Finance Manager

Julie Amphlett started her career as an auditor and accountant and has come to specialise in charity accounting. Since leaving auditing fifteen years ago, she has been a theatre technician, venue manager, managed the Live Literature Fund at the Scottish Book Trust, and was Head of Operations and Finance at Edinburgh International Book Festival for five years. As a strong problem solver, Julie thrives in finding creative financial and operational solutions and enables artists and producers to make their visions a reality.


Esa Aldegheri, Engagement & Sustainability Manager

Esa Aldegheri is a multilingual poet, writer and academic, who has a PhD in Migration Studies and whose non-fiction has been published by Granta, MAP Magazine, Gutter Press, the Dangerous Women Project and others. Her poetry has been read on Radio 4 and Radio Scotland and features in several anthologies. From Scotland and Italy, Esa speaks Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic as well as English. Her first book, Free to Go, will be published in 2022.


Catherine Wilson, Co-Host Rock the Boat Open Mic

Catherine Wilson Garry is a poet and writer with a background in arts project coordination. Her work has been published by Gutter, Extra Teeth and the Scotsman, and commissioned by StAnza Poetry Festival, BBC Radio 4, and the British National Gallery. She currently works for the Scottish Book Trust as a Schools Communities Outreach Coordinator and is on the board of YWCA Scotland - The Young Women's Movement. Catherine is co-host of Rock the Boat - PTBO's regular open mic night.


Julia Sorensen, Co-Host Rock the Boat

Julia Sorensen is a poet laureate and a published writer, musician, and visual artist from Treaty Six territory in Canada. She has performed spoken word and music at home at venues like Edmonton Poetry Festival and abroad at Berlin Spoken Word. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English, German, and Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Alberta and is currently completing her MA in Arts, Festival & Cultural Management at Queen Margaret University. Julia has been crew on PTBO since the very beginning; she currently co-hosts our monthly open mic, Rock the Boat.


Kevin Williamson, Sound & Vision curator

Throughout 2019, Kevin Williamson embarked on a poetic Odyssey, reading more than 500 poetry collections and pamphlets, in order to post a chosen selected poem, on Twitter, every day of the year. Through this exploration and in collaboration with Jenny, the idea for a poetry festival was born. In 2022 Kev leads on our film and audio strand. 


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