Scotland’s Newest Poetry Festival Push the Boat Out Launches Programme

Wednesday 8th September sees the programme launch of Scotland’s newest poetry festival named Push The Boat Out (PTBO). The new enterprise takes its name from the late Edwin Morgan’s poem At Eighty that opens with the line “Push the boat out compañeros, Push the boat out whatever the sea.”

PTBO, Scotland’s second poetry festival, is the brainchild of director Jenny Niven who is former head of literature at Creative Scotland, and co-founder Kevin Williamson who is a writer, publisher and founder of the Edinburgh arts events collective Neu! Reekie!

Jenny Niven said: We are so excited to be launching our inaugural Push the Boat Out programme after what has been a difficult year for everyone, not least those working within the arts. That said, poetry is all about using language in new ways, to express new experiences, so if ever there was a time to explore this vital and vibrant art form, it is now.

We feel incredibly lucky to be hosting our inaugural festival in a city so full of talent, at a time when there is so much to say, and off the back of a summer festival season that saw performance take over more city spaces than ever before. With performers and artists spanning the full spectrum of this spectacular artform, from classical verse to hip hop, we can’t wait for audiences to come along and enjoy.”

Taking place at Summerhall in Edinburgh, PTBO is inspired by the range of contemporary poetry, hip hop and spoken word coming out of Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world and has the aim of giving poetry a new platform, while creating an environment where all variations of this artform can meet.

The festival will host performances from around 60 emerging and established poets, including the newly appointed Scots Makar Kathleen Jamie, with four key themes of social justice and representation; healing and recovery; climate crisis and ecopoetics and virtual and other realities.

An added element to PTBO is the Poetry Mile initiative that allows users to experience Edinburgh differently through a dedicated app. Featuring over 50 specifically commissioned poems from over 25 poets, all locations featured are within a square mile of Summerhall. The app generates bespoke walking tours depending on the type of experience the user requests.

Push the Boat Out dates are from 15th to 17th October in Scotland and will comply with whatever Covid-19 regulations are in place at the time. 

Full programme details are on the PTBO website

Irene Brown

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