I’ve spent the week with a top notch squad of (young?) poets at St Paul’s, viewing the cathedral and everything it represents through the lens of poetry, and I’m still searching for the words to describe what we’ve done. It’s a blessing to be able to create these kinds of experiences for people to transform the way they view their own creative practice and further explore the way they use poetry to examine/interrogate/navigate/articulate both the spaces they inhabit and the spaces that exist within them.
So. This happened yesterday. #BYPoets #Mothertongues All hail @victoriaadukweibulley (front row, middle) for the launch of an amazing project celebrating poetry, language and heritage. All hail #BYPoets for manifesting family/community and being present/involved. Many generations here, including Rachel, Kayo and Miriam who’ve co-facilitated with me over the years. Special shout out to Anita, who through some special juju always manages to be hidden in the frame. So much love in this picture. (at Autograph ABP)
Curmiah, handing out certificates to her students, which reminds me of the London Teenage Poetry Slam (2002-2009), which Kingsford was participated in for most of its run. They were the highest scoring team one year and so earned the opportunity to travel to Chicago and spend time with the Spoken Word Club at Oak Park River Forest High School and Young Chicago Authors. One of the teachers who worked with that team went on to teach Omar Bynon at a different school. Omar Bynon went on to represent London in Shake the Dust (a national youth poetry slam project I ran in 2012). He’s now a Barbican Young Poet and also co-facilitated this year’s Barbican Junior Poets. Representatives from Barbican Junior Poets shared the stage today with Kingsford’s Spoken Word Club, Cardinal Pole’s Spoken Word Club and other Barbican Young Poets. Cardinal Pole’s Spoken Word Club is facilitated by Christian Foley, an alumnus of the same Spoken Word Education Programme I taught Curmiah through. The performances have been hosted by Kareem Parkins-Brown, who co-facilitated the very first year of Barbican Junior Poets, and is a Barbican Young Poets alumnus himself. I could go on, but you get the idea. The connections are many and deep, stretching back for 15 years and spanning generations of poets and educators. And for me, it’s a beautiful thing to see so many people and projects I have love for sharing the same space. (at Lloyd Park Skatepark Walthamstow)
Had the opportunity to share another poet’s work through a reading at Ledbury today. Theme was “Fantastic Beasts”. I’d planned to share two poems, but having filled in for another poet on short notice, I wasn’t able to put my hands on Hicok’s “In Michael Robins’s Class Minus One” (slow wifi) so went straight to my other choice: “Of the Parrat and other birds that can speake” by Nick Lantz. (at The Muse Cafe)
Ran a masterclass for freelance creative professionals last night, the second part of a two-part series via Apples and Snakes. I offered thoughts on managing email, tasks, projects, collaboration, contacts, time, energy, routines and rituals, models for work, principles for determining fees and rates, tools and apps, and so much more. Two hours never feels like enough for a session like this. If you’d be interested in something similar, send me a sign. (at Albany Deptford)
And I get to see my people grow. Miriam Nash, possessor of one of the biggest hearts in poetry and a mighty poet in her own right. This, from the launch of her first full collection. I’ve been her mentor for the past ten years, and I’m blessed to have been able to work with her. All power to you, Miriam. The world is a better place for having you and your poetry in it. (at New Unity)
Spent the day with the students of South Downs College, who are studying my last collection for their English Language/Literature A’ Level. That’s some pretty serious annotation of poems! And it’s still a bit of a trip to see people studying the work so intently. We spoke about identity, culture, hip-hop, finding spaces we can belong to, developing a career as a writer and Bruce Lee (in the context of mastering one craft before attempting to engage another with reference to writing across genres). Thanks for the questions and conversation, guys. (at South Downs College)
This morning, poets on the radio representing Barbican Young Poets: Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Joshua Judson. If you weren’t listening, there’s always iPlayer…
Had the opportunity to author a poem in response to Austin Cole’s “St Paul’s and Shard”. Now on display (and for sale) on the walls of Eames Gallery on Bermondsey Street, as part of 26 Prints.
#ekphrasis #gettingwritingdone #poemsonwalls #poemasart
This rather grand room will play host to much writing of poetry over the next four hours… Running workshops for teachers via OCR (exam board). Because teachers write too.
Institute of Education today, leading a workshop for teachers via LATE (London Association for Teachers of English). Ways into writing, gamifying workshops while resisting end-gaming (process vs product), internal vs external drivers, slam as a model vs slam as a sub-genre of poetry. All in an hour-long session. And yes, for everyone who asked, I’m still available for school bookings.
After the workshop, I stayed on to see performances from young poets representing a Muswell Hill school’s spoken word club. There are a good few teachers doing admirable work in lunchtimes and after-school sessions; a beautiful counter-movement for the assessment orientated obsession that drives so much of our current education system.
And now, I remember there used to be an old arcade somewhere near here on Tottenham Court Road. If it still exists, I may just take a moment to catch-up with whatever version of Streetfighter they have available. Because all work and no play… well, you know the rest.
Yesterday, in Wellingborough, on my way back to London from working with the students of Huxlow Tech. More talk about Breaking Silence for English students studying towards ‘A’ levels. Topics of conversation included Guyana, hip-hop, Black British identity, developing a voice that’s true to self, the power of imagery, adjusting one’s relationship with rules (with a nod to Bruce Lee), awe and the nature of mystery. Much fun. Thanks for having me.
Interviewed for English & Media Centre’s emagazine (http://bit.ly/2mO3ENn)
The Calm Company, Jason Fried— Signalvnoise.com. Thinking a lot about work practice as a freelance creative professional in the arts, a sector that’s pretty much shored up by above-and-beyond efforts— budgets are often lacking and human input (time, attention) is a too-easily undervalued resource. I’m particularly mindful of these issues, working in association with a range of other larger companies and institutions, and thus always in danger of falling foul of multiple, overlapping unhealthy work cultures. The unincorporated are left to fend for themselves. Time to squad up?
Goldsmiths Unislam squad, and the trophy for Unislam 2017’s Highest Scoring Team. Salute. (at CURVE theatre, Leicester)
Busy but rewarding week. Shared the stage with Rachel Long (pictured), Shade Joseph, Seraphima Kennedy, Will Harris, Arinze Kene, Theresa Lola and Inua Ellams at Inua’s RAP Party (Shoreditch House) on Thursday evening. I performed at a couple of the early events in the series (Albany? Southbank?) and it’s great to see that it’s continued to run for so long. I presented a poem I wrote that same afternoon between facilitating student tutorials, after challenging one of my students to focus on possibilities rather than limitations when approaching writing deadlines. The poem references cassette tapes, Boogie Down Productions and the London Posse, because what’s a Hip-Hop night in London if we don’t reference British Hip-Hop? (at Shoreditch House)
Tate Exchange Pumphouse project, soon come… (at Tate Modern)