By Azarine Arinta, Programme Officer, UK/Indonesia 2016-18

28 November 2016 - 13:00

Scotland’s favourite avant-garde noisemakers come to the UWRF stage and bring a mash-up of music, poetry and spoken word, animation and more. ©

Azarine Kyla Arinta

“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.”

What first comes to mind when we heard the words 'poetry performance'? Most people would think that poetry is tedious and unexciting. But Scottish poetry collective Neu!Reekie! is anything but tedious – they’re loud, energetic, and distinctively exciting. Neu!Reekie! - comprising of Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen - is the dynamic duo dubbed as Scotland’s favourite avant-garde noisemakers. They combine beautiful live spoken word performances with music and moving images, showcasing their action-packed introduction video, a peek into Scotland’s jaw-dropping landscape through Scottish trials cyclist Danny MacAskill’s video, and a heartbreaking animation that’ll breaky our heart no matter how many times you’ve watched it.

A flavourful Indonesia for the flavourful poets

As part of the UK/ID Festival 2016 Neu!Reekie! travelled to Indoesia, bringing many flavours to their performance whilst Indonesia brought many flavours as well – from the tranquil, laid-back Ubud in Bali, to the bustling and vividly cultured-rich Medan, to the megapolitan Jakarta. Neu!Reekie! started their performance in Casa Luna, Ubud, as a part of After Dark event in the biggest literature festival in Southeast Asia, Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2016. Their performance was met with rapturous applaud from the audiences who flocked to the venue. After a few relaxed days in Ubud, Kevin and Michael packed their bags – Kevin has a huge luggage that seems to be very light and Michael has his compact luggage seemingly filled with many colourful shirts that he usually wears, luggage as contrasting as their performance and poetry style. From the Island of God, Bali, they took a five hours flight to the other end of Indonesia in Medan, North Sumatra.

Michael Pedersen of Neu!Reekie! performed his poems during the After Festival session of Ubud Writers&Readers Festival 2016 at Casa Luna, Ubud. ©

Azarine Kyla Arinta

With audiences, local communities, and local writers after the rapturous and awe-inspiring performance in Medan.  ©

Azarine Kyla Arinta

While Ubud is very tranquil, Medan sits at its’ opposite polar. Busy streets filled with people who speak many different local language, food vendors selling many exotic foods from snake soup to the infamous smelly fruit - durian - and, of course, the combination of culture from people of different ethnicity – Bataknese, Chinese, and Malay. Punk-flavored Medan seems to be perfectly suitable to the punk-flavored poetry of Kevin and Michael. While in Medan, they immersed themselves in the local tradition – tasting the snake soup, visiting the Maimoon place, getting in close proximity with crocodiles all before heading out for theri UK/ID Festival 2016 event in Medan.

“I’m really happy that I could attend this event, most literature events are concentrated in Java. But, Sumatra, particularly Medan, has a long literature tradition stemming from folktales – we need to see more events like this in Medan, so it can stimulate the literature scenes in here and inspire people to create more events like this.” – Thompson Hs

The performance in Medan was held in a hip, up-and-coming co-working space called Clapham Collective – the place where the creative and innovative youth of Medan gather to create the next big thing. Medan was lit with another rapturous applaud and awed gasps during their performance. Most audiences were literature enthusiasts who were very appreciative that there was a literature event in Medan. Most literature events are concentrated heavily in the island of Java, though there are many Indonesian audiences who crave for literature events outside the most populated island in Indonesia. One of the audience members was Thompson Hs, an Indonesian artist who is known as a writer of many different writing forms from articles, poems, literature essays, and theatre scripts. He was deeply inspired by the performance, citing that it had been a long time since he wrote poems and the event inspired him to start writing one again.

The night ended with a heartening and intimate dinner with the local writers’ community from a very diverse background in Medan. Kevin and Michael were ecstatic with their short experience in Medan and are hoping to return. Hopefully, by the time they visit Medan, the literature scene will have flourished more significantly in Medan and Medan will be able to capture the vividly cultured life of its’ inhabitant in its’ literature works.