Ekphrasis in Action – Seeing the Word.

imageLooking 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. Continue reading “Ekphrasis in Action – Seeing the Word.”

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Meet – Proms Plus Late

BBC radio invited me to perform for a series of after Prom show events called  ‘Proms Plus Late.’ I performed 4 pieces and the Freddie Gavita Quartet played two tracks of epic proportions. Editing must have been tricky. The producer of the show chose my poem ‘Meet’. There was really great sound in the venue though. Poem begins around 3.40 mins.

Check the link for the Prom Plus Late website and more music and poetry – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01l7qwn

Meet – Proms Plus Late

BBC radio invited me to perform for a series of after Prom show events called  ‘Proms Plus Late.’ I performed 4 pieces and the Freddie Gavita Quartet played two tracks of epic proportions. Editing must have been tricky. The producer of the show chose my poem ‘Meet’. There was really great sound in the venue though. Poem begins around 3.40 mins.

Check the link for the Prom Plus Late website and more music and poetry – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01l7qwn

Meet – Proms Plus Late

BBC radio invited me to perform for a series of after Prom show events called  ‘Proms Plus Late.’ I performed 4 pieces and the Freddie Gavita Quartet played two tracks of epic proportions. Editing must have been tricky. The producer of the show chose my poem ‘Meet’. There was really great sound in the venue though. Poem begins around 3.40 mins.

Check the link for the Prom Plus Late website and more music and poetry – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01l7qwn

Performing @ The Bussey Building – Thursday 26th July ’12


The Royal Court have teamed up withrenowned UK Spoken Word organisation Apples and Snakes to bring you artists Zena Edwards, MC Shay D, UK Slam Champion 2012 Adam Kammerling and Stockwell street-poet Errol McGlashan who will kick off the night at 9.15pm.

Arrive early, grab a drink and a front row seat and be swept away by their lyrical genius. If you fancy coming down earlier, why not make a night of it and buy a pay-what-you-like ticket for Vera Vera Vera (more info below) which will gain you free entry to the Spoken Word night.

Tickets
pay-what-you-like on the door
For more information visit the Royal Court website.
The Bussey Building / CLF Art Cafe, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST

JAMINAROUND

Playing with smoke and fire in the Dorset vales
I learned how to become a fire breather, as we jammed and reasoned around the embers.
Humbling to nature should never be a difficult task.

JAMINAROUND is the brain child of the Keen Brothers. The four of them make SOUND SPECIES. The venue was incredible – a Viking round house built into the side of a hill with a long kitchen where we ate over open fires. All designed and built by their very cool Dad. Check out The Ancient Technology Centre

The line up was a brilliant selection of poets and musicians (see links below) topped off by a acoustic vibes all night around a fire. Won’t be forgetting this gig in a hurry. Love my job.


S a t u r d a y 9 t h J U N E 2 0 1 2
A  s p e c i a l  e v e n i n g  o f  m u s i c  a n d  s t o r y t e l l i n g
a t  t h e  u n i q u e  a n d  a w e – i n s p i r i n g  C r a n b o r n e E a r t h o u s e.

f e a t u r i n g;

U N I T E D  V I B R A T I O N S

S O U N D S P E C I E S  A N D  S I M O  L A G N A W I (Moroco)

C H R I S  R E D M O N D

Z E N A  E D W A R D S

T H E  B E G U I L E R S

A d v a n c e t i c k e t s £ 1 5 . 0 0
w w w . j a m i n a r o u n d . c o m

F o o d a n d D r i n k s w i l l b e a v a i l a b l e

CLICK FOR MORE ON SOUND SPECIES

Zena E Headlining @ Supa Fine Spoken Word and Music on 26th Jan ’12

On 26th Jan, I’ll be headling at SUPA FINE – a night of Spoken Word and Music accompanied by Jon Speedy from JSB, the soulful, dynamic, conscious poet Oness Sankara and the beautiful vocals of Bianca Rose. If you don’t know these ladies, it time to get to know, they’re some of London’s best female artists in their field. Click names for vibrant more info…

The venue The Hideaway (in North London) has high quality Italian food too, so you can book a table and enjoy the soul food of Poetry and great Italian grub

It’s £5 on the door but there’s a £3 concessions guest list, so drop me an email and I’ll put you down if you fancy it. This Continue reading “Zena E Headlining @ Supa Fine Spoken Word and Music on 26th Jan ’12”

Snakes and Ladders

Over 2 weeks and I mentored 4 women actor/poets for  around the theme of black womens hair stories. Snakes and Ladders is part of a broader  project call PHD – Positive Hair Day by Plenty Productions in collaboration with

In collaboration with Rolemop Arts the show had a clever promotion technique ‘Kimberleys Big Night Out’ – a fake hen night made into an installation and performance held at the Brighton venue ‘The Basement.’

I had a little extract, mostly improvised with jokes in mind but I explore the idea that trying to find confidence in the manipulation of hair is a complication, a distraction to finding true confidence and self esteem from within.

Handsworth Songs – Summer 2012 -a response to UK Uprisings 1981

The UK “Riots was still very raw for me. I had grown increasingly agitated by the way the online, bar, train/bus, media and street debate had and has been raging. My sentiment had more to do with the fact that I couldn’t understand why my perspective and emotion was landing on the side of the “rioters”. Even the term “rioter” was niggling me. It seemed to automatically say “the bad guys”, it criminalises a group of people the moment the word hit the ear or the eye without them having had a a chance to explain why or how this drastic destructive action was considered an option to get a point across.
I then began to feel nervous that I was unable to write poetry about it as I was in conflict about some of the things I was seeing on the news that were out of order yet motivated by something. I remember on the 29th September Troy Davis was killed by the state of Minneapolis Justice system. I posted on Facebook, how I had no words and couldn’t I have my feeling first, as a friend had said “how could you be a poet with no words!?”. Something deep stirred inside when these “riots” kicked off and it had something to do with having grown up with my eyes wide open to the inequalities in society that directly effected the psyche, that make peole do things that seem totally irrational. The power of injustice and inequality is forever downplayed and needs to be explored rather than shouted down just to sell a political agenda and newspapers.

Then the disaffection and lack of belonging came into play as the race narrative was batted about the media arena knotted in with the fetisization of “feral youth” rhetoric. My irritation with was blurring my creative process. There was so much conflicting information and opinion flying across the country, I was as confused as the bees whose homing instincts are now confused by the wireless network microwaves crowding the atmosphere. I could not navigate my way to the page.

So it was on my when I was commissioned by Film Africa 2011 to write a piece in response to Menelik Shabazz‘s  HANDSWORTH SONGS (watch on YouTube), I managed to have a place to start. This commission became a beacon, a lighthouse in the murky rhetoric, recrimination and pontificating that blocked my view to the responsive poetry I knew I wanted to write.

HANDSWORTH SONGS made it so obvious. The film is an insightful and poetic response to the UK “riots” of 1981 in Handsworth, Birmingham, with thought provoking raw footage where the ‘discontent’ in society manifested itself as “bringing the issue to the street”, as did the new generation in response to the ‘austerity measures’ of the new government on 2009, 10, 11. And that’s me, speculating as when the discontent was reaching boiling point.

I had to write about one man’s dreams of settlement, the turbulent effects of migration, trust and mistrust and uncomfortable violent change that illustrates a country broiling in historical denial and resistant awakening.

I highly recommend a watch of the film.

Even Dogs Have a Place in the World

We were coughing in the dust
from the fall out of your war, anyway
like some kind of anti-fairy dust,
your uncertain future settled as unemployment
and division on our Caribbean mountain,
some had worn british uniforms before,
Some said we had no business in a white mans war
Them’s the ones who kept score
when You called us to you
Posters in bold font Continue reading “Handsworth Songs – Summer 2012 -a response to UK Uprisings 1981”

Leaders Of the Old Skool

When Comfort Cydelle of ONIt Promotions invited me to be a part of an event called Leaders of the Old Skool, the first thing I thought was “about time”. Don’t get me wrong. Its not like I’ve been sitting around waiting to be acknowledged. But I was getting a little concerned at the trajectory the spoken word live scene was taking without recognising the graft of those who have gone before to make the scene have the possibilties that is has now.

The spoken word scene has exploded in London over the last 5 years and some of those poets who have gone before us are lost to those who are considered up and coming now. its a dangerous path to tread when you don’t know where you are coming from even when you are pioneering and forging new paths. I myself have to pay homage to Jean Binta Breeze, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lemn Sissay and Dorothea Smartt for paving the way for likes of me as Afri-Cari-british poet, who performs her work and female at that.

Here is an snippet of my performance.

MOHAMMED ALI’s – WRITING ON THE WALL

Com – passion,
latin, com – together, passion – suffering
together we suffer, we suffer together
endeavour to weather
the breadth and the depth of the storm
For long are the nights for the lost, forlorn,
the broken, the tired,  the quietly enraged
lashed by the warring that keeps us engaged
with  anger and misplaced hate, bated by false truths,
Baked to break truce with all that is love, all that is compassion

Unity could drown in oil slick politic rhetoric
quick to commit Unity to the ghetto of gimmick
cuff link it to anarchy for kicks to profit from the sale of
battleship, bombshells, bullets more heavy artillery

An ocean of hands can move a mountain
and rock the cradle of the future for a child unborn, spiritually sworn
we spray prayer on resplendent edifices sprung from the earth
birthed by the song of a billion tongues speaking, singing as one.” – Written by Zena Edwards copyright

I can remember the day that Jonzi D got in touch with me and asked if I was interested in a project that involved a graffiti artist in the warehouse space of the Birmingham Rep. It was going to be  a gritty, guerilla style, performance installation piece hailing the craft of  graffiti with a Muslim perspective. My diary said I was available and I was up for it. I had to see how this idea of live graffiti art, light display with spoken word was going to work. Plus I wanted know  how a Muslim graffiti artist reconciled his faith and his unorthodox craft. Mohamed Ali blew my mind with the sheer scale of this undertaking,  how was he  going to turn a cold, grubby theatre production workshop space into a work of art.

To be working with the power houses of poetry Dreadlock Alien(B’ham) and Amir Suliman (US), along with the strong, distinct direction of  Hip Hop pioneer Jonzi D (London),  was an opportunity for myself, as a female poet toplace the resonance  of feminine energy into the  realm of war, religion and terrorism – political debates of  too usually dominated by men. What also struck me was the plain overt positivity of this event was a going to be.

There will soon be a screening of the film showing the writing/rehearsal process and the performance itself but Mohammed sent me the link to the website taster. I’m looking forward to revisiting the many  moments that were monumental  for many reasons, but notably for what is possible for poetry in unique and fresh contemporary cross art form collaborations.

The feedback on the impact of  the final performance on the audience was moving. The show evidently tackled crucial issues  about society and the perceptions about Muslim faith. As we thought, my presence was particularly appreciated. Women AND men commented on my contribution, not just because of what I did as an artist but purely because I was a woman doing what I do as an artist..

A  young girl in  a full  hijab  showing only her  expressive, bespectacled eyes, came over to me with her mother, who kissed me and hugged me and spoke with a gentle defiance. Her daughter translated. “My mother is so happy for you, so proud that you sang tonight.” It meant a lot.

The event itself was empowering because we as artists were  stripped down to the bare essential of our beliefs around  Love, Peace, Unity. To do that, we had to explore war, hate and prejudice. Even to the degree of fully engaging in the battles that go on within ourselves. (There was no room for ego and fortunately there was none of that amongst us.) We had four days to make this work. We knew it was going to be massive. It couldn’t flop. It had to be brilliant. More than brilliant.

From the film  trailer, I sense  that inner story is told too. We had agreed  to be a part of Mohamed Ali’s gargantuan,  heartfelt vision with a message – chosen because of what and how we do what we do. He had dug deep into his emotions, his memory, using  the stamina of his mental and spiritual willpower to make this project happen – not seeing his family, unable to grieve properly for his father’s recent passing. The physical toll on his body, only he knows – painting 13 – 16  hours in a day to finish in time. His passion and dedication is to be admired and respected.  So our agreement meant complete surrender  for us too. Surrender  to our roles  as modern day storytellers and as artists, and most significantly, to the real meanings of these archaic themes , Love, Peace  and Unity, and what they really mean in this day and age.

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