#2 Salabuang // 2017

Though this is a personal blog I don’t feel like this is the most appropriate place to lay out the events that took place of what was an emotionally turbulent summer, maybe if you happen to hear me perform my poems in a show somewhere or successfully get me drunk (and firm through my narcissistic theories that just like Marilyn Monroe I am a tortured artist stuck inside a perfect bubble) then I could, but what I can say here is that without the five people I’m showcasing below, I would not be where I am right now, which is so much better than where I thought I was heading.

What I’ve learnt is that while familiarity can indeed breed contempt, if you work hard enough, if you truly believe and focus on the light, familiarity can breed a heightened sense of love, one that radiates, one that is familial, unrelenting and most of all, unconditional.

To Josh, Ate Precious, Pao, Andrew and Barry.

To my better angels.

Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush

Diyosa.

Before and after I asked them to talk to each other for the camera.

There was so much going on in this shot, but the one thing that wasn’t blurry are the holding hands. Ganun daw talaga kapag may forever.

What a guy.

Chop Chop

Wala talagang kupas kapag diyosa! Hahaha learnt all that I know from this wonder woman right here. No, we’re not just talking photography.

 

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#1 – Ate Jyds // 2017

Ever since I’ve had the opportunity to have my picture taken by different kinds of photographers in the past, I’ve grown to shape a theory about photographers and their subjects. I believe that the outcome of the photos and the models in them is the direct result of what the photographer believes the essence of their subject is, that the picture becomes a vessel that allows the audience to see the world through their eyes, to see the person through their eyes. If they love the person they’re taking a picture of, that will translate into the photo, however you interpret that.

In the case of my fellow Hurlingham and Chelsea survivor and forever sister Ate Jyds, I’ve always sensed these three things about her: her intuition, her curiosity of the world around her and her ability to communicate with an audience, may that be a group of people or a camera.

Holland Park

Waterstones, Trafalgar Square

“I find it funny when you say you sound high when you tell me the story (of Animal Farm by George Orwell).”

“Bakit eto binigay sa akin, eh mas may magandang cover sa baba? Outrage!”

 

What’s Your Talent: Rice & Rain by Romalyn Ante

Ever since declaring myself a writer, a poet, a literary artist, I’ve been on a search for Filipino art that’s being showcased in a foreign setting, preferably in English setting.

The West End was once the home of Eva Noblezada, Jon Jon Briones and Rachelle Ann Go for Miss Saigon’s 2014 production. When it comes to literature, I’ve been lucky to have read such works like Manila Noir by Jessica Hagedorn and other Filipino writers and In The Country by Mia Alvar, a very, very, VERY, good book if you want to know more about Filipino diaspora. Lucky can not be the word that I can use to describe getting to meet, work and learn from R.A. Villanueva. Reading his debut collection Reliquaria, hearing him speak, teach us about writing and challenging sonnets and being able to message him about poetry anytime makes me beyond lucky to have forged such a friendship.

What sets Batangas-born and Wolverhampton carved poet Romalyn Ante apart, though, is that her work specifically speaks of a Filipino voice set in British land. Just finding the inside joke in the title Rice & Rain is good enough evidence that this book will resonate.

I first found myself reading a poem by Romalyn Ante through EastLit. After scouring through the archives I come across her work, and falling in love with it. Her poetry brings in a certain delicate nature, one that’s, while soft and almost ethereal, remains potent with imagery, charged with story and nostalgia that keeps you reeled in, reminding you that you, too, have experienced such emotions. Comparing people flocking to a relief good truck like mariposas or butterflies is both beautiful and empathetic in poem “Day 6” from EasLlit.

Rice & Rain is Romalyn Ante’s first ever poetry pamphlet, published by V. Press this August 2017, and I had the privilege to speak to Romalyn about the creative process she took for this project as well as her musings on writing and being a poet.

1. Poetry has been said to be therapy for some, a calling for others. What role has poetry played in your life?

I think poetry has played many roles at different stages in my life. There was a time when writing and reading poetry was simply a hobby. At one point it was a mirror that reflected how I viewed myself and the world. Undoubtedly, I know I have always been inclined to it. When I was a high school student in the Philippines I used to write both English and Tagalog poems and post them on the bulletin board in our main classroom. We used to switch rooms with other students and I remember that whenever other students came to our room, there would always be one or two who would read the poems I posted. They would tell me how much they liked my poems when I bumped into them on the corridor. I guess that’s the reason why poetry has also been a massive part of my identity. It’s not only a way of expressing who I am but also my way of relating to others. At the moment I feel that poetry is a part of my being. It just doesn’t play a role in my life, instead we play a role in this world, together.

2. How has process of creating this book from thought to physicality been like for you?

It’s been such an interesting, exhausting, and fulfilling journey. I learned a lot about myself as person and as a writer. I got to work with such good editor, Sarah, and such talented illustrator, Ruth.

I don’t think there’s an exact ‘beginning’ in this process. That’s because the poems in this pamphlet were written and developed over the years. Having said that, as someone who grew up in the Philippines (and as a nurse in the UK) I know I have always wanted identity, migration and human connections to be the incorporating themes of my pamphlet. When I submitted the manuscript to V. Press’ poetry pamphlet competition in 2016, I amalgamated those themes to be the core of my pamphlet. Then I received a grant from Arvon Foundation which enabled me to attend an Arvon course in 2016; this also helped me create more poems for the pamphlet.

I guess the hardest part of the process was the editing and the “letting go” part. This happened earlier this year when I started to extremely criticize my own work for improvements. There was a point when I looked at a couple of poems in Rice & Rain and thought, They’re so bad! I was always seeing flaws in a poem. But then, when is a poem ‘finished’? And is there really such a thing as a ‘perfect’ poem? Even Li-Young Lee (my hero) was noted to say “There are great poems that have flaws. There are failures of perception, failures of understanding, but those flaws become a part of the poem’s integrity.”

3. I’m enjoying the imagery the title Rice & Rain offers. Being part of the Filipino diaspora as well, I find the humour and home in it. How has being a Filipina living in England helped develop the voice and perspective that’s present in this pamphlet?

Thank you. I’m glad you appreciate the title.

Let’s face it, Filipinos in the UK have a reputation of being hospital/healthcare workers. I came to the UK as a teenager (I was in a country where any dream is plausible!) and still, I grew up to be a nurse (Hahaha). But I don’t look at this part of my identity as a mundane, typical reflection of being a Filipino in the UK. I attempt to use this part of my identity to give not only a snippet of the Filipino culture but also a reflection of a life exposed to the brevity of other lives. Hence, you will find a few poems in this pamphlet written from my ‘nursing perspective’ such as Handover Notes, Last Offices, The Mechanic, etc.

4. Your writing style is very potent in imagery but remains to stay gentle in voice, something that I personally resonated with. Which poets have inspired you through your own journey as a poet?

Thank you. Li-Young Lee is my ultimate hero when it comes to modern poetry. His poems are full of honesty and extremely resonating. I also admire Zeina Hashem Beck’s confidence in her poems.  I also adore the works of Emily Dickinson and Vera Brittain.

Nowadays, and being a Jerwood/Arvon mentee under Pascale Petit, I read a lot of her work. I also read more modern poets like Ocean Vuong, R. A. Villanueva, and Tishani Doshi. Poet Elisabeth Sennit Clough also introduced me to the works of Aimee Nezhukumatathil who is half Filipino! (Thank you, Elisabeth!)

5. What would you like readers to take away from reading Rice & Rain?

I wish they find the poems exotic yet very relatable. I want to impress poetry readers and fellow poets but most importantly, I want to make an impact to someone who doesn’t normally read poetry. I want them to feel comfortable with poetry as humans are innately comfortable with water and air.

6. And lastly, can you offer a line from a poem or song that best captured your morning?

And I know that it’s early and it’s too hard to think and the broken empty bottles, a reminder in the sink – from the song When We Die by Bowling for Soup!

You can order a copy of Rice & Rain through this link! Let her know what you think of the book by contacting her below!

Web Map:

Personal blog: Ripples of the River

Twitter: @RomalynAnte

Instagram: @love_rome

– Troy

What’s Your Talent: @BYPoets with Jacob Sam-La Rose and Rachel Long

I remember the first time I heard of the Barbican Young Poets.

It was summer of 2014 and it’s been three years since I signed up for the mailing list for the Young Poets Network. Had I not scrolled down to the very bottom of the July 2014 email I might have never seen the submissions call for this poetry workshop taking place in the Barbican Centre aptly called the Barbican Young Poets.

Never really been someone who learnt creative writing in a workshop before, I applied, one curious eyebrow raised up. By September I got my first letter confirming I wasn’t successful to the next part of the application process. And I was okay with that. There was always next year. Or rather, the year after that when I actually got in, when my work as a writer and my work as a person needed structure and discipline the most.

Fast forward to October of 2016, and I became part of the 2016-2017 roster of the Barbican Young Poets led by Jacob Sam-La Rose and Rachel Long. Being in a place where I was 110% ready and hungry to be there was very helpful because that meant I was awake, absorbing every single thing that was happening, and I think Jacob planned all of this because he’s the type of person that knows what’s best for you and acts on that. Also because he’s psychic.

Scroll down to read more about their perspective on the programme and how they themselves have grown from being a part of it.

What first inspired you to take part in BYP?

Jacob: I set up Barbican Young Poets in 2009. I had spent the three years prior to that setting up the Roundhouse Poetry program, and it felt like a good time to do something else. I wanted to continue to deliver a long term engagement for young and emerging poets, and I wanted that to be the foundation for a larger, long running community. I also wanted to continue to support an engagement with a broad range of poetics, without any exclusive focus on spoken word or “page” poetry.

Rachel: The BYP programme was close-enough legend to me, way before I was part of this here poetry ‘scene’/family/community, when I was a not-so-fresh-out-of-uni Lit. grad. trying her hand at scriptwriting (far too elaborate stage directions), I’d heard about it through theatre friends who were friends of poets on the programme. It sounded like exactly what I was looking for – if only I knew then that it was poetry that I was writing (albeit badly) in those stage directions. It wasn’t until I met Jacob some years later, when he was running a poetry workshop for Apples and Snakes, and he invited me to join Burn After Reading (BAR) that I learnt more fully what Barbican Young Poets was, how deeply it affected, stimulated and nurtured young poets in a similar way to what I was experiencing through BAR.

When Jacob, a few more years later, invited me to be Assistant Tutor on the programme, I was honoured. I am still – each session, with every new cohort. I said yes, immediately, to the offer because of him – Jacob is a source of inspiration to me – poetically and pedagogically. I said yes because I hadn’t met a young person who hadn’t become a better poet through the course of the programme, I said yes because it would be an opportunity for me to become a better facilitator, to learn more about how to support a poet’s journey.

What impact do you think collectives such as BYP, Octavia and Roundhouse have on modern poetry and people’s perception of it?

Jacob: Slight tangent: I think of Barbican Young Poets as a community rather than a collective. We take on up to 25 poets each year, through an application and shortlisting process, and when you become a Barbican Young Poet, you become a member of the community of poets who’ve passed through the programme over the eight years the programme has thus far been operating. Part of the joy of that community is the way different members can manifest completely different poetics but still come together through a set of core values and principles that foster mutual appreciation and learning.

I think there’s something incredibly powerful about the way that groups of poets collectively or communally make work happen and manifest their visions of what might be possible for that work. Not to discount the power of the individual artist, but at their best, collectives and communities amplify the agency of the artists that they consist of. The fellowship that communities and collectives provide can catalyse creative and professional development. When artists come together in fellowship with a focus on the work they’re respectively doing, progress happens.

Barbican Young Poets, the Roundhouse programmes and collectives, Slambassadors, Six Weeks, Burn After Reading, Spit the Atom, Poets’ Platform, Octavia and all of the other communities and collectives at work across London and up and down the country— they’ve all pushed the way that people have thought about what’s possible with contemporary poetry, and they’ve validated different ways of working. Many of them have challenged commonly held notions of poetry and the traditional mechanisms for bringing poetry to the people. It’s not unusual for the work of young poets or poets of particular backgrounds or orientations to be undervalued, but through these communities and collectives, a lot of effort has been invested in challenging people to pay proper attention.

Rachel: I’m not sure whether all of these would identify as collectives, some moreso as communities or programmes with scope for graduates/alumni to create their own collectives/communities thereafter… But I think that there are certainly crossovers in terms of purpose, ethos, goals. For example, they are all spaces created for young poets to come together to read, write, share, perform, and as a result grow as artists. They each combine the power of community with the power of Art, and they embody the necessity of Art within the community. Their impact ranges from giving confidence to a young writer to pick up a pen again after a year of not writing right through to redefining the image of poetry culturally.

I feel that it is sometimes difficult to measure macro impact from within the space and time of ‘the happening’, I am interested in how collectives/communities/programmes such as these and others have on the next generation of poetry, and how what we are doing here and now informs the future.

On that note, what is one thing BYP has that other collectives don’t in your opinion?

Jacob: What I know is that I’m concerned with creating a space where people can practice craft (paying attention to the finer points of craft in writing and performance) and care (caring enough about the work to commit to continued learning and innovation, caring enough about themselves to commit in sustainable ways, and caring enough about their community to be present and proactive). I’m also keenly invested in creating a space where all poets feel welcome— an ethos that’s manifested in part through the showcase and the anthology we produce each season. If any one of those considerations is unique to BYP, that’s great, but I think many of the programs that operate in similar ways celebrate similar ideals.

Rachel: Each poetry programme/collective/community works differently and that, I believe, should be embraced. It is these differences that make our wider poetry community exciting, nuanced, fresh. I only have intimate knowledge on how the Barbican Young Poets programme and Octavia Collective work, so I’ll only make comment on these. Case in point, there are multiple differences between BYP and Octavia, but I don’t think that this means that one ‘has’ something that the other does not, simply that they do things differently. Octavia, for example, is exclusively for women of colour poets, membership is by invitation only, we do not operate in terms. BYP is for all poets under 26, it is publicly advertised, each new yearly cohort is selected by application, an anthology is produced. What we each cover in-session may have crossovers – we may read the same poems, poets, learn from similar guest facilitators. All I can say is that BYP is unique, that it is a very special programme (but that is not to say the others aren’t also). I would be tempted to say that what BYP has that the others do not is Jacob, but this also is not strictly true, so generous is he with his time and resources that poets who have never been part of the BYP programme can also benefit from the opportunities and initiatives he creates, the resources he shares – widely, the work he does in and outside of the programme.

What are some traits you look for or you expect new members of BYP to have (if you can share!)?

Jacob: In new members, I’m looking for people who are hungry to learn, willing to push themselves and be pushed (in the best possible sense), and keen to commit to the work and the community. People who arrive with questions about their creative practice and aren’t afraid of engaging with unexpected sources to find answers. It doesn’t matter whether they’re the most accomplished poets of their generation. It doesn’t even matter whether they think of themselves as poets or not, or whether they aspire to being professional poets for the rest of their lives. As long as they take the work we do in the room seriously, and find a way to make it relate to whatever they do beyond the bounds of each workshop or project.

Rachel: I have not been part of the BYP application process as of yet. I will be this year, I’m very much looking forward to it. But I would guess that the main criteria for Jacob and Lauren when looking through all the BYP applications is: commitment to the programme, a willingness to learn and grow, evidence to suggest that the applicant would likely work well and be active within the BYP community. I imagine that they look for ‘spark’ in the poems submitted, not that they must all be perfect poems (whatever they are), but that there is something exciting and true about the work, that perhaps they just might need a programme like BYP to make them them reach further, hit harder, dare more.

And lastly, what was one thing that you have taken away from being a part of BYP this year?

Jacob: Having led the programme for so long, I love the fact that each year is an opportunity to challenge not just the people I work with, but also myself and my own practice. Each year brings a different configuration of concerns, queries and needs. What I take away from this year and every year is the joy of having worked with a group of young poets who’ve discovered new things about themselves and each other, and the joy of knowing that the challenge is different every time.

Rachel: Hope and excitement for the future of Poetry.

Can I have just one more? – I feel that I become a better facilitator each year by being part of the programme, learning from Jacob and also from the poets.

Web Map:

Jacob Sam-La Rose:

Website – www.jsamlarose.com

Twitter: @jsamlarose

Instagram: @jsamlarose

Rachel Long:

Website: www.writesrachell.com

Twitter: @rachelnalong

– Troy

Photos courtesy of Dan Hipkin of TEA Films, Barbican 2017.

What’s Your Talent: Poetic Impact

There is always something beautiful in a group of artists collaborating to create something that not only showcases their talent but also works to support one another in growth in a fun and memorable way.

Spearheaded by Theresa Lake, Furquan Soomro and fellow @BYPoets Celestina Rowaiye, Poetic Impact is a YouTube channel aiming to create solid material outwards, to help promote modern poets and the variety of voices that exists in the London scene while aiming to engage audiences to this art form, one that’s growing to be more modern and relevant than most people think.

Already featuring many awesome voices such as Ruth Sutoyé, Malakaï Sargeant (I’m not just saying this because I know them lol) and MOAK, Poetic Impact aims to reach out to more voices out there and are currently looking to set more sessions up with poets from across the city.

Roll call:

And so many other great poets coming soon! Believe me, I was there with them! Check out their YouTube and Instagram accounts every Monday to stay tuned. Head shots courtesy of Luke aka @laterrelonge

The video above is me! I remember doing the piece twice because the first time we ran through the poem with the music the song blasted through the earphones like crazy and I couldn’t hear my voice, and I thought that’s how professionals did it. Thankfully we were able to do it a second time! Shout outs to Justin de Guzman of Deeper Manila fame for letting me use his song from Bandcamp! #nowplaying Adobo from Archive of Randoms.

I got to ask those behind this awesome project a few questions about Poetic Impact through their perspective, and these are the answers I got back.

What first inspired you to create Poetic Impact? What qualities does this project have that you think other projects don’t in terms of showcasing poets and the wide spectrum of poetry that exists today?

Poetic Impact was created because of the love of poetry, expressing the self, giving people an opportunity to promote themselves, create and engage with poetry.

We realised there were many online platforms in the UK for music and not as much for poetry/spoken word. There are lots of amazing open mic nights and live poetry showcases in the UK and we wanted Poetic Impact to bring this element into the online world via Poetry Booth sessions. Poetry is not just pen and paper today, there are elements of cross arts collaboration and we wanted to promote this which is why we permit poets to accompany their poems with music.

As far as we know, there isn’t a platform that showcases poets in a studio environment and that’s what makes poetry booth sessions so unique. Offering poets a free recording of their poem and having access to the YouTube video is also important, as that is something that is useful for applications for competitions etc. Although Poetry booth sessions is our main project at the moment, we are planning on running workshops and live events as well as selling poetry related merchandise, all in due time.

When I came in to do my recording I felt a huge sense of love for poetry and photography within the community that really helped me focus and be myself. What would you like those who take part in this project both in front and behind the camera to take away from Poetic Impact?

We want every single person that steps into the Poetry Booth to feel like they are in a comfortable and intimate space where they can showcase their best creative self. We would also like poets to use Poetry Booth Sessions as an opportunity to experiment with their delivery. Physically, they get to take away an audio and visual recording they can use for their personal/professional use. Every one on the Poetic impact team are either poets, photographers/filmmakers or all of the above so we are all invested in the project and growing together with every session we run. As well as taking away an experience of sharing poetry and networking, we would love for artists partaking in poetry booth sessions to feel a sense of community and great vibes.

Studio3Arts is set in such a tranquil area of East London. Can you tell us what made you choose them as the place to execute the project?

We all grew up in Barking, where Studio3Arts is based. They run various arts based programmes for young people which some of us have been involved in the past. They bring creative people together and empower people using the arts. It just made sense for them to be our first port of call for something like that and we were so happy they agreed. Studio KM, the recording studio we use at Studio3arts is very special to us as it named in memory of a local talented musician and friend. He spent a lot of time in that studio chasing his artistic dreams and encouraging other artists. We are now doing the same and honouring him with that act.

What has been one favourite memory so far during recording?

F: My personal favourite memory was when the three of us went to Nando’s after our first Poetry Booth sessions. We were so stressed out about it because we started a little later than planned but after everyone finished recording, we just went and ate chicken. We talked about how fun it was and how easy everything was in terms of setting up. That was my big worry and I’m glad everything went well.

C: Our first ever session. It was a mixture of joy and anxiety. We started later than planned; our fairy lights died and we had last minute cancellations due to unforeseen circumstances. But we had amazing poets with good vibes and had a cheeky celebratory meal after.

T: My favourite memory is of our first ever session, so much nervousness but along with laughter and good vibes! It was the most happiest I have felt on a Saturday morning. Doing something I love!

If you’d like to get involved with Poetic Impact, you can contact them through

Youtube: Poetic Impact

Facebook: Poetic Impact

Twitter: @poetic_impact

Instagram: @poetic_impact

On The Barbican Young Poets 2017

“What was one thing you’ve taken away from being a part of the Barbican Young Poets this year?”

To answer that question would be for me to catch you up on the past six to seven months of my life, starting from that sunny Sunday afternoon sandwiched between four other friends in a car parked somewhere in Chelmsford and I had just refreshed my mail app to Lorna McGinty’s message with the title Barbican Young Poets.

Many has come to call Frobisher Rooms 4 and 5 a home, a place where people can be themselves. And the weird thing is, when we come into such a space like that we flourish. I’ve never felt growth the way I felt it when I was in the middle of a writing prompt, getting multiple epiphanies at the same time while trying to dissect a poem or finding new ways to write something in the middle of writing something else.

I’ve asked some of my “classmates” from this year’s group the same question and here are their responses:

To Lauren, Lorna, Rachel and Jacob. 

Bobby Sun – The biggest thing I’ve taken away from BYP is that I’m not alone. I know it sounds cliché, but the sense of community and collaboration, and the easy bonds between the poets, gave me a sense of confidence in my work that I never had before. I hope to collaborate with BYP members in the future, and I look forward to seeing y’all do big things too.

Omar Bynon – Process. I finally worked out my recipe for writing and it feels amazing. Gonna cook up some tasty meals now.

Remi Graves – Beyond the joy I found in realising that you can form community through the word – I think BYP taught me the importance of crafting not just creating – that once it is on the page you must sit with it, love it, hate it and reshape it until it tells the story you want it to. This discovery has been daunting in parts, but mainly inspiring.

Anna Kahn – @BYPoets was the first competitive poetry thing I ever applied for. The act of saying “I think my poetry is good enough for this”.

Check out the rest of her answer on her Twitter thread which she tweeted after the showcase itself.

https://twitter.com/AnnaCarlaKahn/status/845557842077765632

Jolade Olusanya – Through BYP I’ve seen there are many layers to one’s story and to reach its core, you have to truly question what you are trying to say and why. Only then will the written form lend itself to you and not betray what you are capable of creating.

Malakaï Sargeant – Barbican Young Poets is so much more than a workshop session. It breeds a community, one that grows year by year and I am privileged to be a part of it. My writing has grown immeasurably and I’m finally confident enough to actually call myself a poet, constantly growing and learning.

Celestina Rowaiye – What I took away from BYP this year is the power/importance of editing and the usefulness of (the BYP) community and peer support.

Megha Harish – I remember thinking a lot about mudita the year leading up to uni, using it as the grounds on which to ground my applications and personal statement, but I think back then it meant something different to me. It was this strange superior saviour complex thing. It was happiness that is as a result of my actions, it was helping for some selfish pleasure of mine.

Today there’s this real joy that the day has ended on. Jolade just won the Outspoken London Performance Poetry + overall prize. I don’t know him as well as I’d like to. I had nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even there to see it. I didn’t truly realise how much I loved his work until rehearsal on Friday to be honest, it just wasn’t the same watching a video online months ago, but I am so, so, so happy, really brimming, at the end of quite an up and down but mostly down day as well, this has given me a massive up. I think maybe this is what truly being happy because of someone else’s happiness is. This might just be the biggest thing I’ve learnt from BYP.

Jeremiah “SugarJ Poet” Brown

  1. I have learnt and been reminded of the potential of poetry, what a vast world of capabilities that it is. Thank you Jacob, thank you Rachel.
  1. I will take away the love and awe that comes with consistently being in the presence of friends who are also supremely talented. Thank you BYP community.

Ruth Sutoyé – Working collaboratively with other poets changed my poetry Jacob Sam-La Rose is gold. BYP pushed and constantly challenged me, crushed my comfort zone as a poet and I learnt not just about the theory and mechanics of poetry but also how to build my career on a logical level as a poet/facilitator.

Applications for this year’s Barbican Young Poets will re-open in the summer over at the link below. Best of luck!

https://www.barbican.org.uk/education/young-people/young-poets

– Troy

Image courtesy of @ShayDRap

Barbican Young Poets 2017 Showcase

After six months worth of Wednesdays, chocolate Digestives, tube rides from Earls Court to Moorgate and taking up residency in Nuclino and Box for poetry submissions, last Friday was officially 2017’s Barbican Young Poets showcase, the culmination of all of our hard work and fun times.

Roll call:

This year’s showcase consists of the collective efforts of

  • Amber Sidney-Woollett
  • Anita Barton-Williams
  • Anna Kahn
  • Anne Byrne
  • Celestina Rowaiye
  • Eleanor Penny
  • Gabriel Jones
  • Henry Ofori-Kuragu
  • Jeremiah Brown
  • Jessica Sweeney
  • Jessica-Louise (Jazzle) Dunne
  • Jolade Olusanya
  • Joshua Judson
  • Laurie Ogden
  • Lucy Howell
  • Malakai Sargeant
  • Megha Harish
  • Mina Azong
  • Omar Bynon
  • Phoebe Stuckes
  • Remi Graves
  • Ruth Sutoyé
  • Troy Cabida
  • Wei Yuan (Bobby) Liow
  • Zahrah Sheikh

This year’s BYP is spearheaded once again by Jacob Sam La-Rose and co-tutored by Rachel Long, while being safeguarded by the strong and gentle hands of Lauren Monaghan-Pisano and Lorna McGinty, a woman who literally saved my life but that’s for another blog entry altogether.

Final touch ups:

Previous Barbican Young Poets showcases were performed at other places around the Barbican Centre such as Frobisher Auditorium 1 where I was lucky enough to witness the legends that are Gabriel Akamo, Amina Jama (!!!), Theresa Lola and Travis Alabanza in 2016.

2017 marks the first year the showcase is shown at Milton Court Theatre, which is an extremely beautiful venue. It’s spacious without losing its sense of cosiness. They also have some of the kindest lighting assistants, who always cracked a joke to lighten the mood.

What I liked about having to perform onstage like that is the way the spotlight hits you in the face. Not only is it actually warm in a comforting way, but it also really blinds your eyesight and forces you to not see anything past the light, which really helped my initial stage frights.

Photo 24-03-2017, 6 00 28 pm

That’s what we saw when we looked up. Still a beautiful sight, to be honest.

A few words of light and encouragement from Jacob before we headed off to the dressing rooms. I was a bit of a sceptic at first, I’ll be honest, but now I’m a firm believer of using the positive approach when it comes to managing a group of people, albeit still firm and authoritative. No one will ever feel alone or helpless after having to hear Jacob’s advice.

Photo 24-03-2017, 5 08 19 pm

Photo 24-03-2017, 6 55 19 pm

Note the chaos in dressing room one and the calm in dressing room two. Hi @WordofJess!

A night of stars:

I learnt a lot about performing poetry that night. One of those lessons being learning how to perform honest and soul-searching poetry that exposes your humanity out not only to a lot of audience members but to your parents, who sat in row B and who you can see smiling and watching your every move should you look down.

We had three groups clustered altogether after a session of deliberating which themes resonated well with each one of us. Thankfully the poem Jacob and Rachel agreed to have on the anthology matched the group I was already in. The final groups were as follows:

Group 1 = nature and death.

Photo courtesy of @ShayDRap

Group 2 = gender, relationships, sexuality and violence.

Group 3 = disapora and race in modern society.

“My black soul is Dora.” Chills, man.

@ruthsutoye
@troycabida
@JoshuaJudson
@Sherlock_Omez
@aycenne
@joladeo
@AnnaCarlaKahn and @megha_harish
Mina Azong
@SugarJPoet
@MalakaiSargeant
@touchmybobby
@megha_harish

Here’s a shot of most of the group after the show! Throwing out a huge thank you to everyone who came, cheered, helped out and performed with us. You are all responsible for the magic that took place in that theatre.

Photo courtesy of @ShayDRap

An Orchestra of Feathers and Bone:

Check out our anthology available for your eyes down on the link below!

Photo 26-03-2017, 3 52 49 pm

Also featuring the luminescent smile of @MalakaiSargeant.

– T