Mary Irvine’s Blog: Open Mic Hits The Sticks
First Monday Open Mic – Function Room Balloch House Hotel
Ann MacKinnon (Balloch), George Gibson (Bonhill) and Mary Irvine (Alexandria) were coming home one night from giving readings at the Scottish Writers’ Centre (CCA, Glasgow). George commented on the fact we needed to travel so far from our homes in order to perform at spoken word events. Ann mentioned previous ‘Open Mic’ evenings that had been held in Dumbarton. The seed was sown.
It was quite exciting. Ann Mackinnon, Catriona Malan and my good self were eating in the newly furbished function room of the Balloch House Hotel. Apprehension accompanied what was an excellent dining experience. One hour to go – would anybody turn up? I know most of the Leven Litts said they were coming. (Me) George will definitely be here. (Ann) Some of the Dalmuir lot said they’d be along… I emailed all the usual suspects plus a few more on the off-chance. (Me)
The meal was over, the fire blazed in the function room. The setting was perfect but the list marked with five minute slots lay pristine on the table. The door opened. ‘They’re in here.’ They hadn’t let us down. Eighteen people had come to declaim. For the next two hours we were regaled with all genres/styles of writing on different subjects and topics. Some made us laugh, some made us cry. Others provoked private thoughts and open discussion.
Top of the Bill – Rolf Campell
‘Top of the bill’ was poet Rolf Campbell who displayed the breadth of his artistry. Fun poems, risqué poems, serious poems and my personal favourite, the poignant ‘Falling’ which evoked the cruelty of the island and the harshness of life that once existed on St Kilda.
One month later there was some concern. Would the second event be as successful as the first? There had been five days of heavy snow, public transport was intermittent (if running at all), cars were still being dug out. But – they came, twenty two braving the elements. One drove in from Cumbernauld, one from Glasgow; a car load came from Dumbarton, others took the train from Dumbarton and one came from Cardross by train – no mean journey at any time! The more local walked or shared taxis. Such dedication I salute!!
Again the readings were varied but the high standard achieved in the first meeting was sustained. A great atmosphere with people staying on to chat/discuss and peruse, even buy, the booklets/pamphlets on display.
As the next ‘First Monday’ will be Easter Monday the Open mic will be on Tuesday, 3rd April. All writers are welcome, as are visitors who want to enjoy the literary extravaganza. Five minute slots can be booked on the night from 6.15 p.m. We start the programme promptly at 7 p.m. Drinks, snacks, meals, tea/coffee are available and we must thank the management of the Balloch House Hotel for affording us this opportunity.
Mary Irvine, March, 2018
Balloch House Hotel, Balloch Rd, Balloch, Alexandria G83 8LQ
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