Performance, poetry

Representing Refuge: The Role of the Arts in Mass Displacement, on Thursday 7th June 2018

I got to have some fun at UCL last week, having been asked to perform at one of the events held during the Festival of Culture.

Hanna Baumann, the organiser who invited me, and I had discussed beforehand that although I would be mentioned in promo material, I shouldn’t have any attention drawn to me at the event. I wagered that people would forget that I was billed to perform, further adding to the disruption. I turned up at the event incognito, replete with a university hoody (from my days at KCL) to try and better blend in. No-one paid me any attention until they suddenly had to.

It worked! People were unsure how to react to poetry suddenly being pushed on them, without warning, and in a style that they were not used to – my hope for performances like these is that it forces people to lose their existing notion of poetry and to just experience my poem for what it is.

My first poem, which was just one part of a larger poem I have called ‘No Dogs’, reflects on my Nana’s experience leaving Ireland as a young girl to come to England and the impact that has had on my identity and sense of self. What I hope, by performing in this manner, is to represent the sudden impact that a migrant population has on an existing community. The community, ignorant of the wider context to explain the interloper’s arrival, are unsure how to react but feel they must respond quickly and they will take their cues from those around them.

You can see me perform the second poem, ‘We are mostly bark’ in the video below:

For more about the event, visit the RELIEF Centre’s blog.

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