Overture: An Evening with Troy Cabida

It’s summer of 2013. I’m walking from Hyde Park Corner to Oxford Circus because the 74 terminated early and I can only afford one more bus ride. I’m fresh out of sixth form, no plans to go to uni. I’m unemployed and at my Rachel Greene Season 1 phase and worst of all, I’m unpublished. Nazmia Jamal’s unrelenting voice rings in my head “You don’t have to be published to be a poet!” but the even more unrelenting voice in my head wins every time.

It was at this point when I decided that I’m going to use this time to grow and develop myself as not only a person, but as a worker, a friend, a son and an artist.

Fast forward to five years later, of three years in Sainsbury’s, two months in AllSaints, intermittent months as editor, columnist and featured poet in online journals and zines and two years sharpening my craft as a Barbican Young Poet under the tutelage of Jacob Sam-La Rose, all the while working in the library and gigging and producing poetry nights around London later, I find myself writing this article slash invitation post for a poetry night that I would have never thought to have co-produced, let alone feature in.

Overture: An Evening with Troy Cabida is a poetry night produced by me and the sensational poet, creative producer and visual artist Ruth Sutoyé. It is a show that functions in service to fully introduce myself to the world as a poet, performer and a person through poems and stories about love, friendship, bubble tea, that thing called masculinity and staying sober in London.

It’ll be held at The DIY Space on Saturday, the 11th of August 2018 from 7pm! Featuring acts on the night include Amina JamaNeimo AskarMalakaï Sargeant, Ruth Sutoyé and the musical prowess of Gabriel Jones aka Bump Kin.

Special shout outs to Malika Holder for designing the poster and to Ruth who is also my photographer for this entire project as well as co-producer, artistic director, host, therapist and all-around super friend.

Tickets are available by either clicking the poster above or down on the link below:


Early bird: £6

Standard online: £10

Door price: £12

We look forward to seeing you there!






“Free write”

There comes a point
when no one can remember
to forget their age

I’ll hear it in the way they laugh
throaty full slow
there’s a chewing to each chuckle
as if they’re holding on
to the bursts of joy
that they contain
that they couldn’t feel inside
this is often louder when escaping the mouth
they remind me of popping pearls

Nowadays I easily get sore throats
from drinking too much boba
or laughing too hard but not doing so
will drive me crazy that much I know
and have started to accept

but I still have to rip away from
people who have made me feel good
about myself for the first time

places that never seemed like
home but still contain corners and crannies
that will never stop feeling warm

pushing your way through often means
the voices in your head will grow louder
and the new challenge you step into
will be learning how to dance with said voices

maybe finding yourself in what they have to say



S/O #NaPoWriMo 2018 and @Sugar_Dread

#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


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.


#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