On the 14th February, the Club Room of the CCA was filled with many talented writers performing their work on all things related to love. Whether in the form of a poem or a short story; whether centred on the joys of love or the heartbreak that surrounds it, our Valentine’s Day Speakeasy was undoubtedly a successful night. A huge thank you to all of our performers and, of course, our audience for such a great event!
Our event was hosted by poet and writer Jim Ferguson, who kicked off the Speakeasy with some fantastic readings of his own. It goes without saying that Jim did a great job in fully embracing the theme of love – each poem seemed to delve deeper into the sensational feelings that love inspires. In ‘Dream’ the repetition of ‘kiss me’ sent chills across the audience, and the juxtaposition of ‘Drink you in / Drink me in’ was especially symbolic of the dangerous and intoxicating power that love holds over us.
Next, one of our most loyal members Ingrid Lees performed her poem entitled ‘My Husband the Taxi Driver’, in which she listed the various types of people that her husband drove throughout his career – fashion models and students and many more in between. But her simple statement at the end that he “only has eyes for me” certainly made it evident to us all in the audience that true love does exist! Ingrid was followed by Mike Gill, who confessed that he was losing his “open mic night virginity” at the event. He provided us with a few poems infused with beautifully poetic language. In ‘The Violin and the Violinist’ and ‘The Artist’, the speakers embrace the darker side of romanticism, referring to sin, passion, angels and skin to symbolise the lust that propelled their love. Our favourite lines included ‘Peel covers from your skin’ and ‘Together we sin, sin as one’ – very evocative of love’s deadly bind!
Halfway through the night Eileen Forelly took to the stage – as a truly gifted performer, she sang some original songs concerning love, heartbreak, hope and looking to the future. Next up was Rich Rennie who inspired us all by creating a poem out of tragic documentary he had watched about euthanasia. This poem follows the speaker’s love for his sick, suffering wife and his struggle of seeing her in pain. I’m not sure if there was a dry eye in the whole room! Rich seemed to effortlessly take a factual documentary and convert it into a highly emotive poem; in the process also admirably raising awareness of such a stigmatised, serious issue which people have to face on a daily basis.
Tracy Patrick also introduced her creative writing group – she’s been working with writers with mental health issues, encouraging them to write. One of the members, Theresa, read out her charming short story which described her childhood love and high school sweetheart. Even though her tale ended with the confession that he was a womaniser, her story didn’t end bitterly at all: it finished with Theresa’s declaration that she missed one of her childhood friends more than she missed her first love!
Contrastingly, towards the end of the night, Kat Corbet provided the Scottish Writers’ Centre with something we hadn’t yet seen: a factual report on love! Kat defined love as a ‘social leprosy’, and an ‘emotional disease’ and enlightened the crowd with her shocking statistics about how 1 in 5 people feel lonely during their lifetimes. She also made it clear to the audience that her endeavours to research love (to a full 44 page analysis!) weren’t fuelled purely out of curiosity, but rather stemmed from the fact that her boyfriend broke up with her a day before Valentine’s Day. Her talk proved to be a hit with the audience, provoking amazement and admiration, not only from her sheer commitment to produce such a lengthy report, but also for her bitter attack on love… This included making fun of the ‘perfect Instagram couple’, confessing to us all that she wants to fill her house with Japanese knives in case her ex ever came to visit and the truly ridiculous ways in which people try to ‘cure’ loneliness, not least signing up to cuddling parties…
Many talented writers performed a diverse range of work on the stage of the Scottish Writers’ Centre, making us all laugh, cry and question love. The success of the night proved the fact that Valentines’ Day isn’t limited to special time with a loved one or a romantic night out, but it just as memorable in a crowded room, filled with the sounds of literary work expressing just what the day really means to people.
Words by Simran Aulakh