By: Sam Bingham
Hello and welcome! I am Sam from the Glasgow University Magazine; could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hey Sam, it’s great to get a bit of chat on the go. In Victoria McNulty, a poet and spoken word performer from Glasgow.
How did you become interested in spoken word and poetry?
I’ve always had an interest in poetry I think. I loved a lot of war poets at school and love a lot of Welsh and Irish poets. Seamus Heaney is my all-time poetic love. But I’m also a massive music fan, and really like to stew over lyrics. The likes of Ian Brown, Shane Mcgowan, Leonard Cohen or Joe Strummer are as influential to me as page poets. I got in to spoken word a couple of years ago from performing old lyrics at open mics, and seeing other performers in Glasgow at the time. The richness of the scene excited me.
Do you prefer one medium over the other; does your approach to writing change depending?
I prefer to read the poetry of others so I can dissect it, but I love to perform my own. I am a performer primarily, that’s where I get my buzz. But I really appreciate the written pieces. A performance can hit you quickly, but page poetry is the slow burn. I’ve got poetry books in the house that are dog eared and haggard from rereading.
Tell us about your upcoming book launch…
It entitled Confessionals. It’s in the Old Hairdressers, on Sat 7th of October. It’s gonna be fab, fiver in with a free pamphlet. I’m going to perform the full piece as a show with Jim Monaghan and Abi Normal. You’ll laugh and cry and probably leave very drunk!
How did Confessionals come to being published; how did you link with Speculative Books and what was the writing process?
I was asked to create a piece for the Visible Women Festival in Kinning Park complex last year. About that time, I’d became quite interested in Loki’s Trigger warning project and the dialogue coming about as a result. As it was a feminist festival I wanted to write about domestic violence from a working class woman’s perspective as I feel that’s sometimes a conversation that is lacking when the subject is broached. So basically I spewed 30 odd years of venom and frustration into a note book and it became a spoken word show. Then I was due to go and do this gig and Belfast with Hollie McNish, and I thought ‘I need to have something to take with me.’ My grand plan was to cut and prit stick a pamphlet like a riot grrl fanzine, but that was a mammoth task and I was so out of my depth. That’s when Speculative Books stepped in. I’ve known they folk involved for a while through performing at affiliated nights, and they’re sound so it was a natural process.
Confessionals invokes a lot of imagery of Glasgow and the complexity that runs through the city, in particular violence, religion, nationality and sport; what is your relationship with the city, how has it shaped you?
I’m a proud Glaswegian. I grew up and still live in the same scheme in the east end of Glasgow. I love Glasgow, the humour and the warmth. It’s the best city but I certainly see its failings. As a writer I wanted to make something that showed that poverty is a form of violence, the uncertainty of living on the breadline and that control the state has over this. I am a huge Celtic fan, and the approach the Scottish Government takes on sectarianism frustrates me. To blame it on football fans when it’s a deep seated historical prejudice. All it does is discredit peoples lived experiences and beliefs. All of these experiences in Glasgow, working in pubs, going to gigs and games, the flings I’ve had, friends I’ve made, being and a young woman here and a single mum shaped me for how I see the word and what I write about. I’m sure I would be very different artistically and politically if I grew up elsewhere.
Confessionals has the feel of an intimate conversation; often moving, funny and thoughtful – did you find writing it to be a cathartic?
At points yeah. The beauty of assuming characters when you write is you can say things you would never be bold enough to say yourself. You can also show the whole spectrum of the topic, and make something less two dimensional than just saying how you feel. Which I think spoken word artists (myself included) are often guilty of. But on saying that, I actually got quite down writing Confessionals. A lot of the content is real life and not pretty. It brought some unpleasant experiences to the fore. When i first performed it though, the amount of people who came and said, this ‘this is my truth, my experience,’ made it worthwhile.
Domestic violence is a key theme to the work; do you think society needs more open conversation about the issue?
Absolutely. Because it’s not open conversation. People are scared to say it is largely a gendered issue. And people are scared to explore they multitude of root causes for that. The perpetrator is not just a scumbag but someone who has had a host of life experiences that make them behave in that way. Until we really face this, it’s just lip service.
The artwork is powerful throughout; how did that come to being, how did you and Kirstyn Boyle link up?
I met Kirstyn through performing at the High Flight. I used to do a poem about going out with a Hibs casual and she said she’d like to illustrate it. She was then involved with the Visible Women festival too, and done artwork of glamorous female KGB members and I thought ‘One day I want to work with her!’ She’s really cool, a glam vegan Morrissey fan. I just felt that she got my writing and the piece in general. I’m so happy with how it turned out.
Who has influenced you the most?
My family and friends. People I meet drinking in my regular pub. And Shane McGowan, obviously!
What do you think of the spoken work and poetry scene in Scotland and Glasgow?
I think there are some fantastic artists involved in spoken word in Scotland. I think there is a specific style that the likes of Kevin P Gilday has that absolutely acidic and utterly Glaswegian. In Glasgow the nights are welcoming and supportive. Saying that, I wish there could be more representation of working class voices and marginalised communities at spoken word nights though. There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of making it an inclusive platform. But it’s a growing platform so hopefully that will come!
Thanks and see you at the Old Hairdressers!
A pleasure! See you Saturday