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.

Performance poetry

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


Performance poetry

Barbican Shakespeare Weekender

I got to share a stage with some of my favourite people/poets and chat about Billy Wagger Dagger! I can’t take the credit for that nickname, I stole it from someone who performed at Hammer & Tongue a while ago. And then I got to do a poem about my relationship with the Bard and his works.

Aside: Did you know that I once spent a day in a window display with nothing but the complete works of Shakespeare as part of an art exhibit? 

My poem was about when the weight of Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy really hit me. To help me express that vulnerability, I sat on the edge of the stage and delivered the poem to the audience who were all sat on the floor, rather than talk over their heads. I held eye contact with people for uncomfortably long periods while I talked about suicide ideation. The feedback was pretty great and I know I need to push on with this sort of thing.

Performance poetry

Barbican Young Poets Showcase – March 23rd!

A lovely little email today confirming the date of the Barbican Young Poets showcase. This is like the highlight of my poetry calendar and now it can be yours as well! You can buy your tickets here. Hurry though, as they have been selling out fast these days!

It really is a great event, full of some of the best young poets on the scene at the moment and it’s been great at pulling more people into the programme. Several of the poets this year were people who came last year and wanted to get involved (which led to a little bit of artist recognition at the first session when I did plenty of blushing at people reciting lines back to me).

I’ve given you almost a month’s notice so no excuses!

Performance poetry

Dialogue Aftermath

Dialogue was a tremendous experience and (dare I say it) I great success!

It was so enriching to see people from lots of different backgrounds responding to the same theme across a number of art forms. We had young people and children with special educational needs using music to show us how they experience the world on a day to day basis, immersing us in their reality of sensory overload.

The Messengers are a group of musicians made up of Guildhall students and people who have experienced homelessness – it’s done in collaboration with the charity St. Mungo’s Broadway (soon to be changed back to being called St. Mungo’s) as part of their recovery college. Again, for a festival themed around Outside/In, it was wonderful to see Barbican providing so many people who are made to feel like outsiders with the opportunity to have their voices heard.

Against that backdrop, I was quite nervous about performing, not to mention the fact that as I mentioned in my last post – I have a small fear of heights. It was a great place to be seated though as I was nestled in with the audience, much to the bemusement of the people sitting on either side of me when the spotlight was suddenly trained upon them and I started reciting from my seat. My poem was about going home to Manchester and feeling very much like a stranger in a city I thought I knew and tracing the history of the city back to Roman times.

Going forward, I want to try and do more odd placements of myself during performances as I felt it disrupted people’s expectations to not have their attention focused on a stage. I intend to chat to Jacob about this at a BYP session.


Dialogue Festival

I’m performing tonight at an event that I have just found out is sold out! Dialogue Festival promises to be an exciting mixed media night and I am honoured to be a part of it.

I shall be reading a poem written in response to a photography exhibition that is to go up at the Barbican soon. I’ve got a 3 minute slot and I’m on a balcony. I’m also slightly scared of heights.

Wish me luck!


Rich Mix – Sun 2nd August – 18:30-20:30

Excitingly, I’ve been asked by Jacob Sam-La Rose to do a ten minute set at the event that he is curating on Sunday at Rich Mix.

Rich Mix has been running a number of youth takeover events and this poetry evening is just one exciting event in the programme.

Come and check it out if you can!


Walthamstow Garden Party – Recap

So I’m really glad that I got the chance to be super silly with some of the most amazing people that I know. It’s always such a privilege to share a stage with any of them and the Walthamstow Garden Party was no exception.

The Barbican Young Poets has been such an important part of my life for the last two years and to see the project expand to include incredibly talented poets aged just 11-14 is remarkable.

The bravery that these young poets showed, covering topics including depression, self-harm, genocide and even one girl whose poem was a glorious coming out makes me very optimistic for the future. I would love to have had a thimbleful of their confidence at that age.

Exciting stuff in the week ahead, including a performance at the Tate Modern on Saturday and having a recording done for the Wellcome Trust played at Southbank Centre on Sunday.

A big, big thank you especially to Shruti Iyer and Sunayana Bharghava for working with me on a group piece – was great to start a show with the pair of you and I look forward to doing it again sometime.

It was such a surreal place to perform, having people coming up to me afterwards and congratulate me and even one woman who stopped me in the street as I walked back to the tube station. The feeling of being recognised was an unusual one though admittedly I had worn a bright yellow t-shirt for the express purpose of being memorable…Smiles at the Walthamstow Garden Party


Walthamstow Garden Party – July 19th

So tomorrow is quite an exciting and terrifying day. I’ll be performing at Walthamstow Garden Party at various point throughout the day, both on my own and with others.

From 12:20-2:30 you can check me and the fantastic Barbican Junior Poets out in the Earthly Paradise Tent, along with Toni Stuart, Malika Booker and a selection of other Barbican Young Poets. This one is going to be really special.

Then, at 3pm, I will have a 15 minute slot in Artillery Island.

Would be great to see some people down there – it’s a free event!


Walthamstow Garden Party

So, it looks like summer is shaping up to be a good ‘un.

Just received confirmation that I’ll be performing at Walthamstow Garden Party this July!

I shall be performing a group piece with some of the other Barbican Young Poets and sharing the stage with the new Barbican Junior Poets. Exciting thing to be a part of so if you’re in the area then please do come and check us out!