Permission to write your Self as the best book you will ever read.
For the last 6 years I have been involved in Voices That Shake as a writer, poet, project developer and facilitator. Our next course is ‘#SurvivingTheSystem.’ Each time we do an intensive, I am invited to write a blog.
Why Surviving the System, Shake!?
We have been on hiatus for nearly 8 months and we’re back with a new Shake intensive course. takes a birds eye view of the planet, zooms in and looks at the streets of everyday living and reflects on our lives as individuals. Examining the current and disturbing issues of our time, it seems we are in for a future of more difficulty after an already bleak few decades now. The political shift to the right in favour of big business and property development, with the marketing machine of mass media, many of us find ourselves numb, in shock, and emotionally, mentally and spiritually brutalized. When we look to the institutions and structures meant to be sources of security, we find them to be disrespectful and uncaring. Abusive.
We are coerced and forced to accept cuts to education and healthcare. and manifests as cultural cleansing and violence, which clumped migration, immigration inefficiency and refugee status’s into one dangerous xenophobic national security and economic risk. In the west, many young people who see themselves as the future working generations are looking at their parents and forbears asking “ What the hell were you thinking?” post Brexit. The sentiment is rooted in deep disappointment and mourning from the the violent severing from the opportunities of belonging to the European block.
Labour. Violence. Addiction
A person’s labour and livelihood is linked so closely to well being, and such deliberate scare-mongering is shock tactics to confuse, misinform, and in consequence of every life where mistrust and frustration is a genuine societal problem. Continue reading
This goes without saying when it comes to the arts.
I have been involved in youth arts (via writing and performance mainly) since 2000 and its youthful voices that re-imagine our worlds, the physical and emotional world, the fighting and resting world, the dying and living world. A world forever in creation.
When we have creativity in our lives we can anticipate wizened voice resonating with plenty stories behind simple words we might hear. When we must practice our creativity (and if you intended to make it a career) why not look to the purpose of why you would want to use the word, spoken or written as a medium to represent you, your life and sense of purpose. Continue reading
Birmingham with Beatfreeks on Wednesday 27th July.
“How do you find your inspiration for your work?” is the most frequently asked question I get as a writer who performs her work. I can’t deny I am often stumped at the question. I trawl my brain for the one thing but it just doesn’t work like that. I’m only sure of a couple of things though – the world is full of inspiration and my gut and my heart have conversations all the time about the abstracts – love, conflict, relationships, frailty, resilience, environment, discrimination and power. Or that centrifugal spin of a coffee cup falling. That tense exchange through eye contact on busy public transport. A door held open for an Elder. The truth out of the mouth of babes. Continue reading
Looking forward to running this session in a couple of weeks!
Engaging with art should be sensory experience, especially when an image is politically loaded. When we see politically charged images we often get lost in abstract ideas of justice, inequality or discrimination. To be able to transfer a visual image loaded with cultural specificity, to the page in a written form that reflects the image, takes a visceral experience. We must be able to have a moment with a painting, photo where the gut overrides our intellectual processes and poetry enables the viewer to see beyond the abstract.
I consider the poet at essence a social commentator who reframes and re-imagines the world. So, writing in response to controversial contemporary images, artworks and photo-journalism, participants will explore metaphor and codification in visual culture, interrogating mainstream media’s use of image and its role in narrative and culture creation as a consequence.
In collaboration with Apples and Snakes Poetry Organisation’s Power Plant program, Ekphrasis in Action masterclass: challenging metaphors of 21st Century Visual Culture (blog), in collaboration wi Apples and Snakes Poetry Organisation’s Power Plant program, aims:
– to encourage participants to explore and examine how they observe, critic and put their ‘artist’s eye’ to work
– to ‘re-see’ and stimulate poetic flow that inspire new ways of re-imagining the world
– to enhance – subvert, reframe – the original art/image and so take on another life through brilliant description
– to generate creative writing that is reflective of the poets voice as a social commentator and writer of the century.
The session is for those with some writing experience and a keen interest in social justice and equality in media representation in all its forms. Participants can expect a writing work-out while engaging in lively discussion about the world we live in today.
Participants are to bring a 1-2 images from mainstream media, and/or politically charged artwork (including graff art) and/or from photographic journalism.
When: Thursday 21 July, 6.30-9.30pm
Where: Blue Room, The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford SE8 4AG
Tickets: Free. Book a place with Eventbrite
What do you believe?
Take a moment. Sit with that question. Bullet point your conclusions on a piece of paper and ask yourself, “could that change tomorrow?”
Every second of the day we are asked to believe in something. Something nor from us. Particularly as women. Often we are asked to believe in something that is the antithesis of who we are. Our political opinions, how we feel about our bodies and their sensuality is tightly bound in deflated bubble-wrap and tied off with barbed wire. Not much wriggle room without painful consequences. The sexualisation of our bodies and diminishment of our intellect pits us in a batle of unbalanced compromise as nationalism subsumes our multiplicitous gender identities into unachievable and fantasized cultural archtypes. We seek “fraternité” in our friends, neighbours and family, and if we find rejection there, we seek solidarity in online communities, or in magazines “for women”. We look for any space where we may feel accepted, appreciated for who exactly we are regardless of our shape, colour of our skin, or sexual self-identification.
And then there is religion: a predominantly global belief in a monolithic male presence speaking from a unilaterally agreed elevated position (with economic and political clout behind him) as the Alpha and Omega of how to “woman “. Continue reading
Shake!: What began as a small pilot project has now become a movement of over 100 young people artists, campaigners, activists and community organisers.
Since 2010, the Voices That Shake Youth Arts and Activism Project has been on a incredible journey raising awareness around the true democratizing of power, community rebuilding, well-being and healing justice, creating safe spaces for young socially conscious creativity, and art as a medium for dialogue. The trajectory has brought them to the brilliant point of being the first ever UK delegates to attend the Allied Media Conference (AMC) in Detroit this week.
We only have a few hours, though to make a pitch to you for a little bit of your help.
Please watch this video (mainly because it better hearing about the value of this visit from the young people themselves) and see where your generosity will be a part of helping 8 young people learn new skills in community organising, as well as sharing their knowledge of arts activist work in the UK.
Thank you for your time and Big Thanks for your support
Be your own bright dawn
and your own bronzing dusk
Love your own onyx shadow
and bunished ivory tusk
Be the steady hand that holds
the quaking other
Be the found one to the life you lost
Be the open door when hurt closed
the heart in your chest
Learn to love the very body that no-one else will trust
And by any means necessary, keep all your parts in synchronicity
Do what you must
Do what you must
Do what you must
Inspired by photoshoot by Kwaku Alston with Janelle Monet for Essence Magazine May 2013 Issue
“You’re too much, too big, too open, too tall, you’re hands are too big, you’re too conscious, too choosy, too negative, too bold, too brash, too timid, too dark, too skinny, too direct, too sure of yourself, too placated, too self conscious, too doubtful, too strong, too humble, too black girl, too black, too man-ish, too white, too maverick, too unconfident, too emotional, too ambitious, too…too..too….”
These are some of the contradictory descriptions people have felt confident enough to say to me. Too many have a judgement and see nothing wrong in telling me so without a filter.
As a woman of African descent, my very presence and body seems to be an invitation to pull out a censor from the depths of insecurity and, with a flourish of a branding iron, singe my skin and consiousness with their armchair psychoanalytical judgement.
So many mixed message and tags I have had to navigate through the many versions of myself through one life time, many of them said during my formative years, or when I have been most vulnerable, or even feeling confident (a space which is oft times an uphill struggle to reach.)
What these comments do is deny me a safe journey into my full Self as a Woman of African descent. They deny me multi-dimensionality. They have been attempts to diminish and control.
Now I am older my first response is does this person commenting give a shit about me? If not, my second response is mind your own business. If what they say comes from a place of caring, I’ll consider their comment, but even still my *instincts* are my best friend, my North Star. My loved ones – old and new – have evolved into flag raisers asking me to pay attention. “Thanks for the heads up – what you saying instincts?”
But we must take care how we use the words “you should” and “you’re too” because they have the power to derail folk from their paths into fullness.
Each to their own journey.
[Source: Shame. The person who shared this did not name the author with the post.]