Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Hackney Youth Poetry Showcase Wednesday 11th March at Cardinal Pole

Cardinal Pole Catholic Secondary BOOK LAUNCH + SPOKEN WORD SHOWCASEon the Wednesday March 11th at the School.

The evening will feature:

- the Book Launch of 'A Complicated Answer'
, an anthology of Cardinal Pole students’ creative writing comprising poetry, prose and short fiction pieces written by students at the school aged 11-19.
The book has already been praised by the UK top poets and educators: 

      ‘This book will spin in the world, like a stick in a candy floss machine, gathering good things as it spins.’ Michael Rosen

      ‘This anthology [...], offers us the world in ways we may never have seen it before.’ Jacob Sam-La Rose
       'An incredible, magical, transformative book. My breath is stolen.’ Joelle Taylor

- Performances from young poets and their educators as well as readings from the book.

This event is brought to you by Spoken Word Education Programme. In its third year, the programme embeds spoken word artists
in schools to work with classes throughout the academic year. It partners with Goldsmiths University, Waltham Forest Arts Education Network,
Arvon Foundation, Spread the Word, Apples & Snakes, Eastside Educational Trust and Slambassadors.

Its aims are to raise children’s confidence, encourage self-expression, team-building and leadership skills through poetry and performance.
Cardinal Pole is one of eight schools, who are part of the programme.

When:  Wednesday March 11th 2015, 5.30pm-6.30pm
205 Morning Lane, Hackney, E9 6LG, London
Entry Fee: £1 for students  / £3 for guests
A Complicated Answer will be on sale at the showcase, for £5 each.Contact Person: Katie Hayward (School Librarian) Email: KatieHayward@cardinalpole.co.uk or call 020 8985 5150

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Spoken Word Education MA

Graduating From Goldsmith University with an MA in Spoken Word Education
Keith Jarrett, Indigo Williams, Raymond Antrobus, Dean Atta, Pete The Temp, Cat Brogan

Two years ago I started the worlds first MA in Spoken Word Education at Goldsmith University. This Wednesday, I graduated with full honours. Never went to University before and left institutional education at 16, but this is testimony to what is possible when we commit to our passions. Proud of my fellow poets and the Goldsmith professors and Peter Kahn, who gave me the chance to prove myself academically. I got a distinction.

Poets Who Push The Art Of Performance

"To Have Great Poets, There Must Be Great Audiences" - Walt Whitman

"Spoken Word" a term marketed and skewed by the Guardian to mean "Urban wordsmith", i.e. someone (usually young and influenced by Hip-Hop) who performs poetry or dramatic monologues or raps without a beat. "Spoken Word" audiences (i.e. Guardian readers) are still new to the art so I thought I'd share these videos of poets who truly push the performance of poetry.

David J

Laura Lamb Brown

Salvar Soler

Danez Smith

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Chill Pill is BACK! 26th Febuary at Canda Water Cultural Space (Featuring New York's Jon Sands)

Chill Pill brings the international party to Canada Water for this very special, one-off event with the incredible Jon Sands.

Come join the whole Chill Pill team, Raymond Antrobus, Deanna Rodger, Mister Gee, Simon Mole and Adam Kammerling, for the best spoken word and music party either side of the river, this time we’re amongst the bookshelves at the Canada Water Culture Space.

Jon Sands is a writer known for electric readings, and the author of The New Clean (2011, Write Bloody Publishing). His work has been featured in The New York Times, published widely in various journals, and anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2014.

Arrive early for open mic sign-up, show starts at 7.30pm…so arrive early!

£5 each

Box Office: 020 8692 4446


Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014 (Poetry, Education, Community And Other Summaries)

shot by Adam Docker for Chill Pill Shorts -
This year I have spoken poetry to an estimated twelve thousand people from stages at Tedx, Glastonbury and LatitudeFestival to fruit sellers on Deptford Market to students and professors at Oxford University.
November 2014
I finished my Masters in Spoken Word Education at Goldsmith's University with a distinction and was promoted to Lead Educator on the MA Programme, co-ordinated by Jacob Sam La Rose, training and mentoring poets pursuing careers in education.

Faber are currently considering my new poetry manuscript.

I have delivered workshops on creativity and poetry to over two thousand young people, aged 10 – 25, nationally and internationally. I also ran workshops for adults as part of the Keats Festival in Hampstead.

I have written poems commissioned by The Arts Council, Freeword Centre and Southbank. 

Keats House Forum and Chill Pill remain two influential London based poetry and Spoken Word nights.
Chill Pill featured at Camp Bestival
This has been my third year teaching in schools and I will continue to campaign for student voice, education and the marginalised people of Hackney.
Cardinal Pole's Spoken Word poetry showcase in April 2014
In January an anthology of poetry and creative writing by many of the students I have taught in Hackney will be published and has already been recommended by The Poetry Society, Joelle Taylor and is also being reviewed by Michael Rosen.

In 2014 I experienced grief as well as accomplishment and fulfilment in (almost) equal measure. New connections have been established in terms of friendships and my family may be smaller but I feel we are closer. 

I’ve been less sociable this year, preferring to be alone, to read, to think and to hone a kind of solitude. I have shifted my ideas of success, who I am and who I want to be and I am improving the management of any anxiety and depression.

Here's to another year of learning, teaching, creating and inspiring. 

See you all in 2015.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Chill Pill Christmas Special; Luke Wright, United Vibrations, Aisling Fahey & Vanessa KIssuule at The Albany (December 18th)

Here are two powerful poems by two of our featured poets appearing at the Chill Pill Christmas Special at The Albany. I'd suggest watching these all the way through, and on your own. Then I'd remind you that the Chill Pill Christmas show will indeed be a BIG HAPPIER PARTY!

Luke Wright

“One of the funniest and most brilliant poets of his generation.”  The Independent.

Luke was a poet in residency on BBC Radio 4’s saturday live, he’s the founder of the Latitude Poetry tent, and regularly tours with John Cooper Clarke.

For this Chill Pill event he is performing a special xmas collaboration with stand-up comedian and musician Vikki Stone, and her choir

United Vibrations

Vanessa Kisuule

She is the current Roundhouse Slam Champion AND the current Hammer & Tongue national slam champion, currently based in Bristol. 



Monday, 17 November 2014

The First Time I Wore Hearing Aids


The first time I wore hearing aids
Stepping out of Saint Bartholomew 
Hospital. I heard pigeon flapping 
crowded city traffic avalanche my ears
like never before. If there was silence
behind any doors in my brain 
they’d been unhinged. It is a miracle
that anyone can think in this volume of busy. 


The first time I heard the bell on the bus,
I kept pushing it for every stop, 
it vexed the bus driver
but I was a child 
playing with sound.


First day at school,
Kieran saw my hearing aids 
and asked if I was a secret agent, 
I said yes, my ears are investigators 
of missing sounds. 


I can still hear 
Miss Williams taking register.
every present syllable in Ray-mo-nd-Ant-ro-bus
was a silent prayers for absence.


When Dominick asked if support teachers 
sit with me in class because I’m stupid,
I wished I said something smart
to clarify my intelligence.


I wished I could trust my ears
to pick up the answers.


In speech therapy
I struggled with
pronouncing it con-fi-der.

The sound was too dense, too tuned out of frequency.


In the hearing aid repair clinic
The TV is always on mute – Or is it?


I turned off my hearing aids
to write this, because sometimes, 
hearing aids make you hear everything 
except yourself.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Joelle Taylor Book Launch, Karim Kamar Album Launch & Girls In Film Discussion

Bouncing back from a week of illness and a reading at Oxford University, here's a few events I'll be appearing at this week.

Joelle Taylor, curator of SLAMbassadors has a new book of poems launching, 'The Woman Who Was Not There' and I'm honoured to be one of the poets asked to read alongside her at Phoenix Artists Club on Thursday 6th November at 6.30pm in Soho. Joelle is one of the most important names in British poetry and has become a prolific door opener for many poets on the London scene today. If you haven't seen her Ted Talk I highly recommend it.

The following evening, (November 7th) Pianist, film maker and Out-Spoken Co-Curator, Karim Kamar launches his music project 'Songs Without Words' at the 1901 Arts Club from 7pm. I'll be reading alongside poets such as Simon Mole, Anthony Anaxagorou and Sabrina Mahfouz.

TICKETS HERE https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/125109

On Saturday (November 8th), Corrina Antrobus will be chairing a discussion on female representation in film at The Under-Wire Film Festival. Details below.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Am I Black Enough? - On Being Invited To Read At Oxford University & Caribbean Weekend Festival 2014

...My father, who I adored despite every cruelty, 
who opens his arms like a dream he knows 
I have had all my life and says "come..."

- Kwame Dawes

I was born in England to an English mother and a Jamaican father, and only having visited my family in Jamaica a handful of times throughout my childhood, I wouldn't have felt my voice had anything to add to a conversation on Caribbean poetic expression and experience, but I am feeling a new confidence in claiming part of that identity, despite my thirteen year absence from Jamaica.

As a child, it was hard to bond with my family in Jamaica, I was called "White Bwoy" everywhere I went, my family seemed more interested in the materials in my bags than the history of our family. This upset me, because it was my father who brought me to Jamaica to connect with his heritage. This denied me the feeling of being in a place that was meant to be a part of me. I returned to London that year, and wrote off Jamaica as a place I could not call home.

Since my father passed away last year, I have felt a need to understand something about my Jamaican heritage, a need to find a connection that has been denied or lost since my father is no longer anywhere on earth.

He was the person in my family I most physically resembled. I felt proud when I was seen with him because our resemblance, in spite of his darker skin, confirmed my blackness. This was important because, most of my fathers stories about living in England as a dreadlocked Jamaican, were about the racism he had to tolerate, on the streets, in the work place, at the airport, in the job centre, it was everywhere. His colour was something he had to defend and fight for. It's something I admired about him, and that's something I always wanted to connect with. A fighter for equal rights, social consciousness and justice.

On October 25th I will be reading in a Caribbean literature and music festival curated by Renaissance One, London Is The Place For Me 2014 (also the title of a Calypso song by Trinidadian singer, Lord Kitchener). I don't know if I have anything new to add to the conversation around Caribbean poetics and literature but I'll get to explore that with my invitation to the festival.

Caribbean poets who lived or are living in the UK like John Agard, Jean Binta Breeze, James Berry, Andrew Salkey, Grace Nicolas, have all had their place on my childhood bookshelf. I have been particularly inspired by Roger Robinson and Kei Miller in recent years. True, these voices are not "Caribbean specific'', the intensity of their work is drawn from the unsettling narratives of African and European history.

These Caribbean voices carry the tone of their Islands across the Atlantic. This is something unavoidably political. The awareness of what Patois (or any indigenous, mixed-nuanced language of a colonial / post-colonial space) brings to the European ear, gives the Caribbean poetical sensibility a loud whip-lashing purpose. 

When I saw Kei Miller read his poem, 'Flog Man' at The Southbank Centre, I heard a Jamaican, unafraid of the difficulty of presenting accurate colonial history to a predominately middle class white audience, culturally indulging in his Forward Prize winning poetry, which is both striking and subtle.

Flog Island?  / It had one beating so brutal, no one could cork their ears from it; 
both black and white man fail in the long practise of deafness...

...Blood did sprinkle the ground like anointing
and now people walk by and cringe as memory
curl like S and lash them owna skin.

As a Jamaican / British poet (who is literally hard of hearing), when listening to Kei Miller, he stings and sings my blood every time I am able to hear him read.

Am I Black Enough?

My father spoke Patois, and I could only speak it comfortably around him, although I was always too British for him because I ate with a fork instead of a spoon. He made a point of saying, "Black is predominant, you are my son, therefore you are black", but in the British context I identify as a British Jamaican. I feel particularly British when I'm in Africa or the Caribbean, but I feel particularly black when I'm in Europe. One of the nuances of having two parents from two very different cultures is neither of them can fully relate to the identity which is forming around your ambiguous existence and that in itself, is a kind of displacement. 

On November 1st I will be reading on the Diaspora, Identity and Art at Oxford University. Only in the last year would it make sense for me to be reading (and writing) in such a space. Through poetry I have unearthed a kind of (at first unconscious) acknowledgement of my Jamaican heritage, and now (consciously) that is something that excites me and thickens my notebooks. Like Miller, I aim to hold these spaces with my own voice, a British, Jamaican voice that sounds a story, in spite of everything that makes it harder to hear.

Monday, 13 October 2014

James Baldwin On Columbus (from Jimmy's Blues)

This gone National Poetry Day, I took a group of students to Southbank as I was invited to perform alongside Ross Sutherland, Joshua Idehen, Joelle Taylor, John Hegley and others. As the theme was 'Remember', I was asked to memorise a poem and perform it, I chose 'Imagination' by James Baldwin. I recommend picking up this collection.

"imagination creates the situation, 
and then, the situation creates the imagination. 

It may of course be the other way around: 
Columbus was discovered by what he found"