Spoken word is one of the smallest sections in the Edinburgh Fringe programme, but it contains one of the highlights of the festival. Downstairs at the Royal Oak on Infirmary Street, Edinburgh is a great show from Sophia Walker. It is recommended even if you don’t regard yourself as a poetry fan. Her content and delivery are both excellent and she performs without notes for forty minutes, holding the attention of the crowd for the whole set. When I glanced around the faces in the basement room everyone was concentrating on the flow of words and the images they produced. The last poetry event I went to had only a handful in the audience – here the room was packed. But then Walker is a slam poetry expert. Amongst other accolades she was the winner of the 2012 London Poetry Olympics and was the UK representative for Capturing Fire: World Queer Slam.
All of which means this is not the announcement of a new talent that no one has heard of before, but just confirmation that Sophia Walker puts on a poetry show with broad appeal which is well worth a visit.
Walker mines her own life, which luckily for her poetry career has not been straightforward. Many of us would struggle with interesting facts about our lives after saying I was born in [place A], went to uni in [place B] and now live in [place C]. It ain’t so for Walker. As a frinstance, within a few days of birth she was off to live in the USSR, and has personal experience of the unusual activities of the KGB. But life in a communist country where you have to queue for hours to get cabbage is the not most unusual thing that she has experienced. Not by far. She has accidentally immigrated here, emigrated there, come close to (undeserved) life-imprisonment – and much more, all delivered from memory in a continuous burst of enthusiastic verbosity. She shares more about her life than most performers and is honest about the errors she has made.
Walker peppers her performance with opinions and political views, whilst working out what are the only legitimate reasons for moving to a new country. This is something that she has done several times, but she has realised that almost all reasons for doing it are just forms of escape. You might not have been to a spoken word event before, but you’ll be rapt. You’ll probably wonder why you haven’t tried it before.
Do not miss.
The Royal Oak
Aug 5th – 23 (Monday to Friday only)