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.

Performance poetry

First performance as IGP poet-in-residence

This was quite exciting – I think this is the first time my name has been up on a projector behind me!

I was performing at the BP Lecture Theatre at the British Museum to help launch the RELIEF Centre [I had to stop myself from doing a performance where I poured oil on myself as I spoke, the oil making it more and more difficult to speak].

No-one had thought to tell me that the Lebanese ambassador to the UK would be sat 3 feet away from me and I only found out about 5 minutes before going on when I realised the speakers kept addressing someone in the front row as ‘Your Excellency’.

This poem was written especially for the event and was called ‘Ghazal for the newest refugees in Lebanon’ after June Jordan’s ‘Apologies to All the People in Lebanon’.

Performance poetry

Rich Mix Takeover Launch

I had a lovely time on the panel, got a chance to talk about mental health and how London has impacted on that – made some lovely new friends and we already had mutual friends from the poetry!

I did a short set of 2 poems and although I had to make a swift exit due to fatigue, I had lovely feedback from people.

Super excited about the Takeover festival – I have several of the events in my diary. Do you?

Performance poetry

Walthamstow Garden Party 2017

Another year, another Walthamstow Garden Party. It’s always a delight to be able to perform here as we are usually very lucky with the weather.

I was performing alongside a long list of amazing poets, starting with the latest crop of Barbican Junior Poets. The work these young people do is a credit to themselves and to those who work with them – they really blew us all away!

I went on representing the Barbican Young Poets, joined by friends and peers from Octavia and Poets’ Platform.

This performance saw me trying something a little bit different. I went down into the audience and sat among them, picking one person to perform each poem to, to help bring poetry away from a stage and less about being observed in a particular format.

The evening was rounded off by an incredible set from Kayo Chingonyi, who was one of my first poetry mentors, and Clean Shirt.

Personal poetry

Exciting news!

So, completely unexpected, I’ve been asked to be the first Poet-In-Residence for UCL’s Institute of Global Prosperity – I’ll be writing a poem a month on the themes and work that the IGP grapples with.

This all came about through the Barbican – the head of the IGP, Professor Henrietta Moore, wanted someone to perform at her birthday party and, while that gig fell through, she did recommend me for a performance at a Summer School run by her department. The top pic on this post is from that performance and I had a lot of fun. Apparently, so did the IGP and I’m proud to be representing them through my words.


Podcast Update

So, a LOOOOOOOOOONG time ago, I took part in a podcast recording with the fantastic Post Everything that seems to have been delayed as it’s taking the Barbican Centre a long time to give its official seal of approval to something that will bear its name.

One half of the PE duo emailed today saying that he was finally getting around to chasing it up and putting pressure on the Barbican (a small amount of pressure) and could we all please answer the following 2 questions

How did your writing adapt to the podcasting process?
What is one thing that you learned from the workshops?
Straightforward enough yet they’ve been keeping me busy.
Personal poetry

An Invitation to St. Paul’s

The inbox today had a formal invitation for me to take part in a special round table poetry discussion held at St. Paul’s by Poet In The City. As with most of these things, I shall be attending as an ambassador of BYP.

I’m not entirely sure what form that is going to take but I accepted mainly because it gets me free entry into the Cathedral – I’ve long admired the building but have never been tempted enough to pay the extortionate entry fee.

The topic is going to be reclaiming London spaces. Given the Cathedral’s relationship with the Occupy movement, it’s an interesting forum for this discussion to say the least.

Performance poetry

Walthamstow Garden Party (RaP Party)

Well. That was fun, wasn’t it?

Another set done w/o paper. Slowly building up my confidence with regards to learning my set and also being able to do the inbetweeny banter bits that are sort of scripted but rehearsed enough so that they don’t feel like they are.

The Rhythm and Poetry (RaP Party) is a poetry night like no other – poets perform a set based around Hip Hop and then provide the DJ with two tracks to play. Everybody dances and has a good time and then the next poet gets up. It was so much fun and made for a relaxed and joyous atmosphere to perform in. If you get the chance to go to the regular night, I highly advise it.

I performed a poem called The Preacher Is A Worshipper As Well. I will put it into its own post as, since it is a performance piece, I’m unlikely to want to submit it for publication.

The two songs that I chose were Ice Cube’s It Was A Good Day 

and Wyclef Jean’s  Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)

Performance poetry

How beautiful is this poster? Says all that needs to be said. Be there.


Performance poetry


Unfortunately, due to the ill health of the host, tomorrow’s gig has been cancelled. Apologies for the last minute update (though I’m reasonably sure it will impact 0 people). I’m a little annoyed at the late notice but it sounds like the host tried to push through the illness and just couldn’t so I hope you will join me in wishing her a speedy recovery. This was to be the last event before summer and I’ve been told I will be rebooked when the next slots open up – watch this space!

Luckily, I signed and sent off the contract with them last week which guarantees me the full fee as there was less than 24 hours notice, as well as reimbursing my train tickets, which they weren’t originally covering! So I get to be a paid poet with actually doing any poetry. A bittersweet moment.