Kevin Mclean: 'The Edinburgh Fringe is a monster'

Kevin Mclean is one of the organizers of Loud Poets, a poetry collective entering its third year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His poem ‘Evelyn,’ performed at the 2015 Loud Poets show, won StAnza Best Poem of the Fringe. He released his first collection and CD, Learning to Write, last August. Frederick Alexander sat down to speak with Kevin about the upcoming Loud Poets Fringe show, as well as his experience of fringe festivals outside of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh in August is Artist Christmas

Tell us about your work.

The theme for our first show in 2014 was ‘How to be a Poet’, where we wanted to break the misconceptions about poetry, to show it could be fun. In 2015 we did ‘Why do you Write?’ where the idea behind that was to get people to see that anyone can do spoken word. This year the theme is ‘What makes it Loud?’, and we are looking at the things that redefine poetry, such as music, video, collaborative voices, or audience interaction - all of these things that we add to poetry that makes it ‘Loud.’

The Loud Poets recently returned from their second year at the Brighton Fringe, and you will soon be travelling to the Czech Republic to debut Loud Poets at the Prague Fringe. What is unique about Edinburgh?

The first year we went down to Brighton, all I knew was that it was the UK’s second largest Fringe Festival. When I arrived, the first thing I thought was ‘there is a real distance between first and second place.’ The Edinburgh Fringe is a monster, there are over 3000 shows, while Brighton has 900.

You can be in Brighton and not know that the Fringe is going on - that’s not possible in Edinburgh. The benefit of this is that people can stop and have extended conversations with you while you flyer.

But what happens in Edinburgh is a beautiful month of artists who have poured their life and soul into their work transforming the city. I was having a conversation in Brighton with Dora Rubinstein from Shit-Faced Showtime, and she said ‘Edinburgh in August is Artist Christmas.’ I think that is exactly what it is.

How do you attract audiences to your show?

So much of our success comes from the hard work of the people involved with us. That’s not only the core organizing team, but also the talented musicians and photographers who lend their expertise. We also have a producer, and people who flyer and push the brand. On top of this, we know we have a good structure, a good format, and some of the most talented poets we can get. We know what we do is good; all we have to do is convince other people.

We also like to think of ourselves as a gateway into spoken word - if you can catch audiences with a flashy idea, then they find the substance. If you come to our show then you are going to see stand-up, poetry, music, tragedy, comedy - such a broad remit of what you can see at the Fringe, and all on one stage.

What does the future hold for the Loud Poets?

Our immediate future is going to perform at the Prague Fringe and then the Edinburgh Fringe. In between this we have our monthly nights, as well as setting up the possibility of touring in more places. We are looking at how to properly get funding and devote more of our time to Loud Poets. Our future is always open to possibilities: one of the benefits of the open format of our shows and accessibility of our work means that we’re always able to take on new, exciting and different opportunities.

Kevin’s Twitter is @KevOutLoud and the Loud Poets Twitter is @LoudPoets