Words Per Minute, for those who don’t know, is a spoken word event that takes place on the second Sunday of every month in the Arches. It all began a year and a half ago and is an electrifying coming together of creative minds and performers. From poetry to short stories, novel excerpts to songs, this event is a delightful treat for the ears and mind that gives a voice to new talent. What better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon?
I spoke to Kirstin Innes, one of the founders of WPM to find out more about why she started WPM and what we can expect from the next session.
G: Why did you decide to start Words Per Minute?
Because we felt there was a need for it. There's so much excellent work being made in Glasgow right now, but audiences tend to stick with what they know. The theory was that if we created a mixed bill event, people would turn up for a big name novelist or a band they love, and be exposed to six other performers who they wouldn't have seen before. There’s live music audiences encountering theatre and literature fans seeing some great short film. We make sure the quality of performance stays high too and everything is under ten minutes.
G: As one of the founders of WPM, what do you enjoy most about it and what has been your highlight of the past year and a half?
KI: I always, always enjoy that feeling when an amazing performer does something that blows the crowd away and I love the feedback. I've had complete strangers come up to me in the pub or at gigs getting excited about a new writer they discovered at WPM. We've been lucky to have some of the best writers, musicians and theatre makers in the country in our presence - Ewan Morrison, Rodge Glass and his band Burnt Island, RM Hubbert, Emily Ballou and Kieran Hurley to name but a few. Some amazing moments that particularly come to mind include Adam Stafford sending shivers up people's spines with his gorgeous looping vocals at WPM2, Bigg Taj's beat boxing brilliance at WPM4, and our shambolic Christmas karaoke last year (we did an all-writer version of Do They Know It's Christmas, with Alan Bissett and Ryan Van Winkle duelling it out for the Bono role). Last month we had a completely unknown singer, Becci Wallace, on the recommendation of a past performer. She opened her mouth, this amazing voice came soaring out, and the room went completely silent. Those are the times that make all the hard work worth it.
G: The theme of the next session is sex. Why did you choose this theme?
KI: Ha! Well I was at the Melbourne Emerging Writers Festival earlier this year and they ran a sex night, which was one of the best mixed bill nights I've ever seen, so I thought I'd copy it! It allows the performers so much scope; you can exploit the humour out of a subject like that, or you can shift gear (ahem) and have a real erotic impact on the audience.
G: What can we expect from the performers this time around?
KI: In one word - filth! Sarah Hall, an amazing novelist who has been nominated for the Booker Prize in the past, will be reading a sexy tale from her new collection of short stories; theatre-maker Drew Taylor and musician Tragic O'Hara will be getting smutty (not together) and we've hooked up with Scottish Dance Theatre to show a beautifully sexy duet of theirs too.
G: What does the future hold for WPM?
KI: December is our annual Christmas party, and we've got the novelist Sophie Cooke and muso Shambles Miller making very welcome returns. For January we've decided to try a slightly different theme, what with the Occupy movement gaining momentum and the rise of activism, we're going to shift the focus onto radical voices. And in February we're teaming up with the Glasgow Short Film Festival for an off-site, cinema-themed event.
Second Sunday of every month.