Queer’Say

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Out In South London presented QUEER’SAY in association with Apples and Snakes at Rich Mix, and I had the pleasure of seeing the show. Featuring at the show was AJ McKennaErnesto Sarezale, and Dominic Berry, and the host was the award-winning comedian and Radio 4 regular Rosie Wilby.

It was an interesting space for spoken word, i’m used to poetry in pubs, so it was nice to be in a different environment. The three features were each unique with something different to offer, and once each poet had performed there was a short interview and an opportunity for audience questions, which allowed us to delve a little bit more into the poets’ world.

Rosie was a lovely and relaxed host who had some great questions to ask each of the poets. The name of the show is catchy and clever, and it was entertaining to hear that Verbal Diaqueer was a potential title option too!

Trans woman AJ McKenna uses her blend of comedy, zeal and vulnerability to challenge inequality in her poetry. She makes us consider elements of sexuality, gender and daily life. The combination of spoken word and activism is admirable, it’s great to see creative people use their talents to talk about things that should be talked about and disputed in imaginative ways.

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Ernesto Sarezale added something a little bit different to his poetry and bravely removed all of his clothes as part of his performance (being an LGBTQ event it was quite funny to notice the reactions of the lesbians in audience). His interest and talents in cabaret obviously make his poetry that bit more original, and experimenting with performance is always something I will appreciate. He additionally had some audience interaction with one of his pieces based around Catholicism, and participation is always a successful way to keep the audience interested, which he did excellently.

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Dominic Berry was the highlight of the night for me. He has such a friendly and sweet demeanour, and he is also fiercely talented. His poetry was incredible and he had the audience really focussed. His video game poetry was accompanied by video game sounds which he used as the beat to his poem, which I really enjoyed. He writes both children and adult poetry, showing that he has a true flair for creating work for different audiences. He is clearly a passionate performer full on energy and enthusiasm which is infectious.

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Overall the event was a success, and it’s great to have a place for poetry within the LGBTQ community. I’ll be sure to check out the poets again at any upcoming gigs, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more poetry based events at Rich mix too!

Tongue Fu at the London Wonderground

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Tongue Fu comprises spoken word and music, and what makes it so unique is that it’s all unrehearsed. I attended an event at the London Wonderground and had such an enjoyable experience. It was a dismal rainy London evening and I’d just spent several hours attempting to avoid rush hour tubes, and ended up soaked to the skin, but I soon forgot about that once the show started.

Essentially the poets would grace the stage and give the band some instructions on the genre, feel, emotion, and tempo of the music they required to accompany their poem. Some of the poets were specific with instructions like, ‘Something a bit like Adele but it’s not about a breakup’, and some of the instructions were more obscure such as, ‘Think of grandparents sitting on a porch in a rocking chair in Jamaica telling their grandchildren a story’. The musicians delivered quality sound every time and interpreted the instructions impeccably.

The poets themselves were each talented and unique. Chris Redmond was a lovely host who performed some fantastic poetry too. He was very likeable and clearly had a lot of love for the show.

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Greeds hosts a spoken word open mic event in Shoreditch called Boxedin, so I was already familiar with him but it was the first time I’d seen him as a poet rather than a host. His stage presence was excellent and his personality shone through, his poetry was also very strong. I particualrly liked the poem he finished on, I found it to be very moving.

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Rob Auton was absolutely hilarious in his introduction, you couldn’t help but laugh at his baggy suit and comedy. His poem accompanied with the music instilled much emotion in me, he was so full of passion and I felt hooked on the words he was speaking in his poem about the sky. It was nice to see a mixture of humour and seriousness in his overall performance.

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Francesca Beard provided something a little bit different for the night, which allowed the audience to interact. She had us raising our hand if we agreed with the statements made in her poetry, she had us reading off cards she held up, and she had an audience member reading part of her poetry too. The interaction and uniqueness of this act nicely broke up the night. Francesca was then additionally part of a book reading game with host Chris. One had a book on American Politics, and the other had a book on Psychic cats, they chose a page number and Chris read one line from his book and then Francesca would do the same with her book. This made for some very interesting sentences which was hugely entertaining and definitely a game that everyone should play. I couldn’t help but question why a book on Psychic Cats actually existed, I mean who would consider that worthy of publishing?! But that made the game all the more hilarious!

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The final act of the night was Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, who was so effortless and professional on stage. For the most part she didn’t give the musicians any instructions, and the performances from her and the band were outstanding. She was clearly one full of experience and talent, and her poetry matched really well with the music played.

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This show is different from the usual spoken word nights, and knowing that it’s all improvised makes it so exciting to be a part of. It’s such a great concept and I can imagine something different and unexpected happens with every show. The combination of hilarity, and heart-rendering performances makes for such an excellent mix. The only downfall for me was that the show starts a little bit late in the evening, but a part from that I have no negative comments. I’ll be sure to check out the event again and I know it won’t disappoint. Overall the concept, poets, musicians, and the general vibes are absolutely fantastic, and it’s definitely a show worth checking out for those who love literature, poetry, and music, as well as those who are just looking for something a little bit different to do in London.

The Poetry Society: Over The Line Exhibition

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Last night I attended the Over The Line exhibition at the Poetry Cafe in Holborn, and I can’t recommend checking out this exhibition enough. I was completely blown away by the amazing work and talent.

Exhibited is a selection of poetry comics, which are also available to buy as a book published by Sidekick Books. It was wonderful to see the work in book form, as well as displayed because you can really get a different perspective from each. The unbind pages of the book are hung on string with little pegs, and you get to view each piece as one, whereas in the book you get the physical pages to flick through with all the work together. The work is quite small, so viewing it actually felt quite personal because you have to stand close to it and really absorb the words and images. Having these two mediums combined is so interesting, and I especially appreciated the collaboration after having written about my poet dreams on the same day!

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I have a love for both poetry and comics, so joining the two together was my little creative brains dream. Usually comics will have a flowing narrative that goes along with the images, however, poetry is a completely different form of writing to scripts, so seeing how that translated onto the page was so fascinating.  You don’t just straight off read the poem, you kind of slow down your pace and take in the images and the words, which means you get so much more out of it. Comics and poetry can stand alone, but bringing them together creates a dynamic relationship where the visuals and sounds join to create a far more imaginative, and thought provoking experience.

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It was great to see some of the people who actually worked on this project, and hear them talk about their experiences as well as read some of the work.  Sophie Herxheimer and Chris McCabe discussed their collaboration and I really enjoyed seeing how these two creative individuals brought their skills and interests together, and through that they produced some great collaborative work.

John Aggs spoke about his experiences as an artist, and how different it is creating a comic strip for poetry since the language isn’t as explicit as ‘two people are in panel one’, etc. He talked about how the artwork for the poem was his own interpretation of the words, and he created a post apocalyptic world through that, which may not be anything to do with the poem at all. He discussed the ease of working with writers, and how he would generally create the artwork and they would like it, and that would be it. It was great to hear his perspective as an artist, and it just emphasised even more how engaging it is to bring these two creative expressions together as one.

Amy Key read from her poetry comic, and discussed how as a child she was always one of those kids who were told that they couldn’t draw. Through doing this project she joked about how she had dealt with this childhood trauma. It was entertaining to hear her talk about her experiences of this project, and great to hear her read from the work as well. What I found fascinating was that her experiences of working with Rob VonRamm, were entirely different to that of John Aggs and his collaboration with W. N. Herbert. VonRamm asked Key to explain the poem, to make it more of a story, so he could make the appropriate art work. Correspondingly Aggs was allowed to interpret it in whatever way he saw fit. Recognising the differences in how people work was so compelling.

Some of the poetry comics created were made independently so it wasn’t all collaboration, and having this mix makes the work all that more intriguing. Editors Chrissy Williams and Tom Humberstone have done an excellent job in bringing this project together, and it was such a great success. For me having comics, poetry, free wine, and a bunch of creatives in the one place made for such a delightful evening, and being able to take home the book was just a bonus. Everyone should definitely buy this book, some of my favourite pieces were Nightbus by Tim Bird, Cathedral by Joseph Turrent, Haunted by Amy Key and Rob VonRamm, Sea of Faces by Anna Saunders, and I’m about to list every single comic poem because they are amazing, so seriously just buy the book.

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The exhibition runs until the 31st October, so you should definitely check it out if you didn’t make it to the exhibition launch, and I believe there is another launch at Gosh Comics as well. Additionally Chrissy Williams is holding a comic poetry workshop if anyone wants to try their hand at creating their own work.

This creative work is so inspiring, and I can’t wait to see and create more of it! I NEED TO GET INVOLVED.

I Have A Dream

I have a dream. Most people have dreams. Sometimes they’re achievable and sometime they’re not. I mean if you dream of being Taylor Swift, Barak Obama, or Kanye West (not sure why you would want that but there we go), then that’s obviously an unachievable dream (unless it’s one you gain in your sleep). But there are other dreams like becoming a Nurse, writing a novel, or travelling to another country. These types of dreams are often very possible for many people.

My dream is to change the world. 

It’s scary to see that written down. Even scarier that i’ve written it in bold. SCARY BOLD WORDS.

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Two things that are important to me are creativity, and helping people, and I want to combine those two things. I’m currently unemployed, and i’m applying for jobs but I’m not sure I can really imagine myself actually doing them. Going to an office every day, working 9-5 (or longer)…I just can’t picture that being my life. I’m applying because I need the money. I need to survive. Slave to the wage. I live in London. Can I survive here without a full time job? The cost of rent makes me question whether I can even survive here WITH a full time job. Is it possible to not have a job but have money. Well that’s what I’m trying to figure out, because working for something I don’t care about just creates the most low and unsatisfied feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I write poetry. I write other things too, but poetry seems to be the thing that i’m most in love with right now. I’m trying to go to open mic nights, write everyday, gain as much knowledge, practice, and experience as possible. It’s quite daunting, but also really exciting. Poetry is a massive outlet for me. I can talk about whatever I want. I can talk about my deepest darkest thoughts, moan about public transport, consider all my weird and wonderful deliberations, and swear as much as I fucking want. That freedom makes me feel alive and I think that’s incredible. Right now I care more about my poetry than getting a full time job. I feel like it shouldn’t be my priority, but it is.

I want to use my poetry as a way to make a living, as well as a way of helping others, but how on earth do I achieve that?! It’s hard to even know where to start. It seems so insane, to the point that saying it out loud to anyone would probably just result in their ridicule. The lack of job security, the lack of confidence, the lack of money, and the lack of knowledge and skill necessary to even start is overwhelming, but for some reason I can’t seem to let it go. Someone should probably tell me that it’s just a hobby and offer me a job in a call centre.

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I’m a complete novice and newbie, but I want to perform, get published, and put out lots of stuff online. I want to find my voice, my style, and develop it. I want to learn and improve. I want to be talented. In turn I want to use this talent to connect with underprivileged kids, people in prison, people with mental health issues, people in the LGBTQ community, those who are suffering, as well as just everyday regular people, because after all every single one of us go through issues in life.

I want to encourage other people to write, and perform poetry. I want to show that it’s an amazing way to express yourself. I want to reach out to these people and work with them. Poetry and spoken word is more than just talking about a tree in a field, there are hip hop and rap influences, you can be humorous and silly, you can rant about politics and the state of the world. There is so much more to poetry than what you’re taught in school. Being creative, talking about things that matter, and using it as an outlet is such a positive way to use this art form, and I want to promote that.

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As well as this I want to combine music, illustration, typography, sewing, fine art, dance, film, apps, installations, and photography, with poetry. Bringing together different art and media in the form of events, and exhibitions. Not only do I want to promote poetry itself, but the actual content of poetry too. Powerful messages can be exhibited in poetry as well as other art forms, and combining this all together is something I want to be a part of. Imagine an amazing poem presented on a typography poster, or wooden letters hanging from a washing line, or a poem read alongside a ballerina, street dancer, or silent film. There are so many ways to be creative with poetry.

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So there we have it. My dream is to be a poet and use that as a way to help people.  How I achieve that I’m not entirely sure. I’m not really one for shameless self promotion, I’m trying to do it more but it’s SO HARD. I need to read, write, and perform more. I need to build some kind of team, come up with a realistic plan and budget, somehow find money, and the means to achieve all these goals. I have the privilege of parents who are helping with me with money for a year, but I want to earn my own money, in a way that is meaningful and makes me feel like I have purpose. Right now it seems unachievable, but who knows maybe one day I will figure it out.

I’m on a journey and if you want to be a part of that, connect with me, and let’s change the world together.

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Holland Park

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If London didn’t have all its lovely green spaces it definitely wouldn’t be as amazing as it is, and Holland Park is one of my favourites. Located on the central line in West London this park has a range of areas within it. There’s the Japanese garden, the Victoria garden, the woodland, play park, and open spaces for picnics. There are peacocks roaming free, it has a cafe, and on the whole It’s a lovely park to visit suitable for the whole family.

Luckily for me Holland Park is just a 15minute tube ride away, and I hope to go there and spend some time writing new poetry material very soon. Any time I’ve been, there are always tons of people, which could either distract my writing or inspire me further. But it just goes to show the park is very popular, and well worth the visit.

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Bloc Bar

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It’s safe to say that the closing of gay venues in London is fast becoming an unwanted trend. You would think that a place such as Camden, which attracts alternative styles and individuals, would have a bit of a gay scene. Sadly my favourite pub The Black Cap, was abruptly closed several months ago. It was an iconic pub, and well loved by those who attended, and by those who worked there. I’ve never felt so comfortable and welcome in a place before, the staff were always so friendly. The terrace outside, inside pub, and club on the ground floor, meant that you could go there for a quiet drink, chill outside on a sunny day, or bust some moves on the dance floor. So The Black Cap really did cater to whatever mood you were in, and that’s why I think it was so brilliant.

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Protests and petitions have taken place to try and save it, but alas it has remained closed. Thankfully many of the staff and the performers, managed to move on the The Eagle in Vauxhall, but unfortunately the distance is a little too much for me personally, so I rarely get to go. But the good news is that a new gay bar has just opened up in Camden, just a 3minute walk from Camden Town tube station. Bloc Bar doesn’t quite live up to The Black Cap, but at least it’s a space for those in the LGBTQ community to go to. It’s quite small, and the seating isn’t fantastic, but the staff, punters, and performers make the atmosphere so much more exciting. It’s great to see many familiar faces of The Black Cap, and I really hope that Bloc Bar is up and coming as Camden’s new and popular gay bar.

Bloc Bar is definitely worth going to for entertainment with its cabaret, drag queens, and burlesque. When I attended I got to see Holestar, who I found so likeable, hilarious and talented, with the excellent singing voice of Silver Summers. Alongside her Vanity von Glow performed, who has an absolutely fantastic voice, her renditions of popular songs were stunning. All 3 were beautiful, and a delight to see.

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I was disappointed that the pub closed at 11pm, so hopefully Bloc Bar will get a later license soon. Overall it was worth the visit, and although it may not look like the most fantastic pub in the world (I think I just miss the homely, cosy feeling of The Black Cap. It feels a bit more like G-A-Y or Freedom Bar), the people sure do make it a fun and enjoyable place to be. Here’s to more opening of gay venues, and less closing of them! And I’m still praying for a decent Lesbian scene! Come on gay London! I’ll definitely be back to Bloc Bar soon.