‘Poetry will never stand still. There are challenging times ahead. Get in the boat, compañeros.’
Push the Boat Out, which runs from Friday 4 – Sunday 6 November this year, is Edinburgh’s International Poetry Festival: a vibrant, polyphonic cross-genre explosion of contemporary poetry, hip hop, and spoken word from Scotland, the UK, and further out to sea. Whether shared on social media, witnessed in a live performance, heard in the words of a song or read on the page, poetry has become something that enriches our collective understanding of the world, and PTBO reflects that by finding new ways to create accessible, exciting events that reach a wide range of audiences. This year’s programme is all about the intersections: where poetry meets rap, hip hop and songwriting; where it meets film, visual art or even dance; where it meets politics and debate.
The 2022 programme spans 54 events, featuring 80+ artists and taking over almost every possible space in the Capital’s huge Summerhall venue. Look out for performances from names like Roger Robinson, Joelle Taylor, Brian Bilston, Michael Pedersen, Stuart Murdoch, Leyla Josephine, Kathleen Jamie, Hollie McNish, Don Paterson, Omar Musa and Hannah Lavery, live music/hip hop gigs, workshops on poetry with gaming and photography, and even a poetic cocktail class!
Here are some of our top picks for what looks set to be one of the most exciting weekends for word-lovers this year:
Saturday 5th November | 3:30 pm – 4:20 pm
Poets Seán Hewitt and Michael Pedersen talk about their recently released, and stunningly poetic, new memoirs: Pedersen’s ‘Boy Friends’ and Hewitt’s ‘All Down Darkness Wide’. Each text offers a unique perspective: one an insight into grief and male friendship, and the other a revelatory exploration of facing a loved one’s depression.
Sunday 6th November | 11:00 am – 11:50 am
Edinburgh Makar, Hannah Lavery, is an acclaimed poet and playwright, celebrated for her play, ‘Lament for Sheku Bayoh’. Her compañero for this event, Rutherglen poet Michael Mullen, has recently been crowned co-winner of the prestigious under-30s Edwin Morgan Award, 2022.
Saturday 5th November | 1:30 pm – 2:20 pm
Zaffar Kunial has long been established as one of the UK’s most essential voices in contemporary poetry, while Andrés N Ordorica’s graceful debut collection, ‘At Least This I Know’ made beautiful waves in the Scottish literary scene this year.
Saturday 5th November | 6:00 pm – 6:50 pm
We are frankly buzzing with excitement for this one. Inspired by the viral map Mythical Beasts of Scotland created by Púca Printhouse earlier this year, seven poets have been commissioned to give contemporary voice some of Scotland’s fantastical beasties in a live show that features dance, rap, electronica, RPG gaming, song and visual art. From Anita Mackenzie’s selkie reflecting on the meaning of skin to Dave Hook’s sentient nuclear submarine that decides to become a kelpie, from the ghostly presence of the bean nighe mirroring contemporary reproductive rights to the lowlands outcast creature Shellycoat hanging round a housing scheme, to Hollie McNish taking on Nessie herself, with new live illustrations by the original creators of the map, this is an audacious and totally fresh take on the myths that mak’ us.
Friday 4th November | 4:30 pm – 5:50 pm
‘Truth Prevails’: Does this Czech motto still apply in our post-truth era? Do art and poetry speak truth to power and what truth would that be in a time of societal polarisation and political turmoil across Europe? Three Czech poets and three poets from Scotland discuss their perspectives and experiences as they meet face-to-face for the first time following a series of digital encounters organised by Literature Across Frontiers.
Sunday 6th November | 2:30 pm – 3:20 pm
Kathleen Jamie, the Scots Makar, talks to freshly-appointed Welsh Laureate Hanan Issa, sharing their work, their concept of the role of a “national poet” and their plans for the rest of their tenures.
Saturday 5th November | 11:00 am – 11:50 am
This double bill welcomes globally renowned poet Eduardo C. Corral and 2020 Edwin Morgan Award winner Alycia Pirmohamed. Harmoniously blending English and Spanish, Corral’s poetry is a tender exploration of history and sexuality, while Pirmohamed’s flowing and tumbling voice reflects on so much: longing and loss, heritage, identity, and faith.
Saturday 5th November | 12:00 pm – 12:50 pm
Two of contemporary poetry’s most storied veterans reflect on careers which span decades of poetry in this unmissable event
Sunday 6th November | 7:00 pm – 7:50 pm
Musician Graeme Stephen joins Don Paterson for this exceptional and provoking event celebrating Paterson’s 2022 Faber collection Arctic. A guitarist who plays it all – from free-flowing jazz to the warmth of traditional Scottish folk – Stephen will accompany the poet as his verses rise and fall through tales of gods, men and women, art and politics.
Poetry will never stand still. There are challenging times ahead. Get in the boat, compañeros.