Edinburgh's Radical Bookshop

Lyrical inspirations from Len Pennie


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On Wednesday 21st February we invite you to celebrate poetry, the Scots language, and finding one's voice as we welcome poyums by the tremendous Len Pennie into the world. Our Poetry Extravaganza at the Assembly Roxy will feature not only readings and a Q&A with poet, minority language and mental health advocate Len, but also guest appearances by Gray Crosbie, Nasim Rebecca Asl and Shane Strachan.

In advance of the evening, Len shares some of the pieces that have inspired her to continue exploring her own voice in poetry. Check out the performances of some of them through the links!

Poyums is a book about connection: the loneliness in losing it, the reclamation and rebuilding of it. The ties to the self, to the other, to the friend, to the lover, to people we want to cut ourselves off from and to those we desperately wish we could once again cling to.

1.⁠ ⁠¿Y como hablo de amor si estoy muerto?

This is from Cartas Desde el Infierno, by Ramón Sampedro. I did my dissertation on this book, for me it perfectly distills what poetry should be: emotive, evocative, and it times, uncomfortable. Sampedro's work has been incredibly influential, not just his poetry, but his approach to ethics and humanitarianism.

2. Resumé by Dorothy Parker

I think this piece gets unfairly considered irreverent, but it's always stuck with me in periods of suicidal ideation. When approaching mental illness in poyums, having this piece in the back of my mind helped me not to feel afraid of incorporating the humour I use to cope. She's right, you might as well live.

3. A Dug A Dug, Bill keys

This was the first piece I ever performed in school for a competition (I didn't win). It's just beautiful, authentic Scots poetry that's accessible, it's something I'm constantly striving for in my work.

4. Emancipate, Courtney Stoddart

This one has to be seen to be best enjoyed. Honestly, may all poets put this much fire into their performances as Courtney. Her work lends itself well to passion, none more so than this piece.

5. Harry Josephine Giles, no such thing as belonging

Such a powerful meditation on identity and the meaning of home. I want to write poetry like this, the kind that has you thinking of disparate lines week's after you've heard them.

"poyums" by Len Pennie is full of funny and fiercely feminist poems, exploring women's rights, linguistic identity, mental health and relationships. Join us for an evening of the best of Scots poetry on February 21st! Tickets are available HERE.

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