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. And despite 2020 being the most colossal bin-fire of a year, it’s never been more apparent that we need the arts - for solace, for expression, for community, for resistance, and for fun. So, despite the challenging circumstances, or maybe because of them, we aim to explore fresh inventive ways to bring poetry and audiences together.
Push the Boat Out is a reference to the late great Edwin Morgan’s unforgettable poem, At Eighty. His poem 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 new project pays homage to his inestimable contribution to poetry, and to his restless pioneering spirit.
Throughout 2019, Kevin Williamson (co-artistic director) 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 he became convinced of a vibrancy and dynamic which exists in contemporary poetry that looks markedly different from the poetic landscape 15-20 years ago. With ten years of experience producing live events in poetry with Neu! Reekie!, (and a hinterland in ambitious, radical publishing) the idea for a poetry festival was born.
After a decade of directing festivals and events programs in Beijing and Melbourne, Jenny Niven (co-artistic director) spent 2014-2019 as head of literature at Creative Scotland. She brings to the table both an appetite and a vision for a new, progressive, festival model which is celebratory and inclusive. 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.