The Golden Hour is Edinburgh’s premier literary cabaret as well as being a worldwide literary phenomenon. We’ve spawned several successful national and international tours and were featured as one of the highlights of this year’s critically acclaimed Unbound strand at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
The audience rolls their eyes as the man reads a Cherokee poem about the “message of the mountains”, which he says he found in a greeting card. People walk out, they leave, they think – this poetry shit, this is for the mouth-breathers. Perhaps they think the people on stage are intellectuals or trustafarians or misguided environmentalists, but it doesn’t matter what they think, they are gone.
And I would be gone too, if I didn’t need this kind of inspiration in order to tell you about The Golden Hour which is, in some way, a reaction to this kind of thing. But I don’t wish to frame things negatively. There is a place for bad poetry and there is a place for the SLAM, just as there is a place for Chicken Soup for the Soul and a place for poetry desperate to be stand-up comedy. Somebody, somewhere, gets off on that stuff. Well, we say, good for them. We respect the right of a man to slide a number-two pencil up his urethra and we respect the right of an audience who wants to try the hit-and-miss of an Open Mic Night.
The point being, we think The Golden Hour is something different. It feels like an Open Mic but we stack the deck, we bring ringers: prize winning poets, novelists with actual novels, and not just songwriters but actual bands that you’ve heard of – musicians and writers who don’t have the desperate reek of a 25-year-old virgin.
We admit that in our arrogance we could be wrong. We admit, in our drunkenness we may have enjoyed ourselves more than we should. We admit that we like dancing till five a.m. as much as we enjoy a good villanelle. We admit we are sometimes complacent, that we are not perfect, that sometimes we allow someone to perform because they are nice or we like their hair or, god forbid, we see potential. And we have taken this to Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and The Highlands because these places are beautiful, because they welcome us, and because they are ready.
The Golden Hour is good. We like it. And what we’re saying is – even if you don’t like literary readings, you should come and see it. Why? Because it has cartoons. Why? Because we don’t mind if you snog a stranger at the end of the night, just because he was wearing glitter lipstick. Why? Because literature should be heard by people who think they don’t like poems, especially if they are people who believe themselves to be truly alive. Good things should be heard by all people.
This is for you. This is for them. This is for us.
This is The Golden Hour.