Boycott an Art Exhibit – Race and Art – Open Letters: 1

Race and the Arts. The present modes for dialoguing about race in the arts served a distinct purpose up until the mid nineties but now they are clunky, many are obsolete in their effectiveness. People of colour are interrogating and refreshing their arts practice all the time but receiving fewer opportunities to flex their creative…

The Poetic Debaters Project

I have been a-brewing a project that I have a deep connection to and I think it’s because it involves all the geeky things that I love to do behind closed doors – reading for research, writing for passion, engagement and education, and devising performance to invigorate and inspire. It has been a project nearly…

Spark – Hope in their Hearts

It was quite a daunting ask, for me to be on  panel speaking about something as abstract as ‘hope’. Even as a poet it is hard to steer clear of cliche´s about olive leaves in the beaks of birds on the wing. All we know is that it is something that can be felt  in…

The Voice of Burntwood Girls

Last Summer, as part of the Battersea Arts Centre Heritage Project, I worked with a group of young women whose creative maturity really inspired me.  Given the freedom to use film, paint, mixed media and photography to express themselves, they took basic ideas about the representation and power of girls and women’s voices and ran…

The Soul Manufacturing Company at Whitechapel Gallery

Last year I was commissioned to make a series of visits to read to some potters at the Whitechapel Gallery. My readings were a part of the Visual Artist/Performer, Urban Planner and Activist, Theaster Gates,  Soul Manufacturing Company for  The Spirit of Utopia  exhibition. This interactive installation was an extension of the Gates’ previous works…

SHAKE! Youth Art and Activism – My Thought on the 3 R’s

I have been working on this incredible youth project for the last four years. Shake! is Platform London’s youth initiative which happen twice a year as a February school’s half-term and August Summer holidays intensive course. They take 6 months to devise with themes I would have been frightened of as teenager, more concerned with…

Parenting the Artist. Giving the Artist’s Manager a Break

So, we made it through 2013 in pretty much one piece. Now, to continue the quest to thriving. As I’m a freelance, self managing artist, I need to have work strategies in place for the fractious haggling of time and energy between the needs of the artist-self and the independent arts business manager/agent-self (she’s a…

Touring with Extraordinary folk – Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis

2013. This highlight has got to be  highlight of the year so far – a 6 date tour with Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis. David Jones of the London Jazz Festival production company Serious, invited me to be support Masekela and Mr Wilis as part of a Women Make Music PRS fund. After I’d accepted,…

Women Make Music – Yes. I do.

I was recently asked to be guest of the month for The PRS Foundation because my last commission was funded by the Women Make Music Award. Why is it important for these kinds of initiatives with pots of money to exist highlights the fact, that the imbalance in the representation of women in the music industry…

Supporting the Legendary Hugh Masekela

I’m still tripping that this tour has been offered to me… I’m touring as a support to Legends South African Jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Pianist, Larry Willis. November 5th was the first date of this tour and meeting Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis was one of the coolest experiences with musicians I’ve had. Watching…

The Laugh – Zena on Def Poetry

Found this by chance. I thought I’d lost this piece of footage as Def Poetry had taken it down… In 2002, I got a phone call from my then  poetry agent, 57 Productions, that they’d got a call from Def Poetry. I was so fresh into my working career as a poet that I didn’t…

Tribute to Jayne Cortez & a Poem

So so moved and honoured to be a part of this line-up. Voices like Jayne’s returned my voice to me through their works – the one that permits me to be the Artist and Woman and Human of African descent I am wholly meant to be. The voice that permits me to raise it from…

Disabling the Preconceptions

March of this year, I was invited by Drake Music to explore a collaborative experience with a group of artists from Graeae Theatre. Both organisations are dedicated to the breaking down of barriers and challenging preconceptions of artists with disabilities. After a couple of meetings with John Kelly, my collaborative musician partner and composer of…

Power Plant: WPD Relationship @ MAC Birmingham

When Apples and Snakes Poetry Organisation invited me to run a masterclass session of the writer/performer relationship, I was excited about flexing this muscle again after some time. What was meant to be a two hour sesssion turned in to four hour of exchange. Directors gained a deeper insight on how to listen to the…

Guest writer for The Arts Award

<The creative work I do with young people is some of the most rejuvenating and rewarding parts of my job. So when Arts Award asked to to write about why I do it for their website, I was more than happy to. CLICK TO GO THE ARTS AWARD WEBSITE AND ARTICLE

Shake! Youth Arts, Race, Media and Power Project 2013 Is Go!

I have been a core project consultant and deviser of Platform London’s Youth Project, ‘Shake!’, and finally the time has come for it’s delivery. Shake! has been in development since it’s pilot 2010 and successfully received two years funding thanks to the hard work of Jane Trowell at Platform. I spent a day with the …

Moved by Facebook…

I have stayed away from Facebook over the last few months because it had nothing for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my true friends on there and have love for acquaintances, and I like to stay in the loop about the vibrant city I live in called London. But my own purpose…

WPD- Security and the Writer/Performer and Director relationship.

As a poet who is used to standing behind a mic, manipulating my voice and being a little physically  animated, I took the plunge to  write a full length one woman show. The difference between the focus needed for a 10-20 minute set at a spoken word night and  an hour and ten minute  theatre…

South Africa – Cultures Worth Fighting For

Today, I want to write about the South Africa I love. Not about Malema and Zuma, the travesty of the ANC legacy post-Apartheid or the shocking images of Platinum Miners in South Africa mown down by security forces (warning: graphic video) last week. I want to write about the South Africa that has so much…

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…

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…

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…

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…

What an absolute privilege…

… an honour, blessing, and  a straight up bligh of the greatest degree. To perform on the Queen Elizabeth Hall stage with Baab Maal, to have him compose music to your poetry, to sing on the same stage and have him say in his alert, bright voice, “Yes you. Very good, you are very good….

Zena E with JSB @ The Ritzy Upstairs

I’ve been working with Jon Speedy for the last 5 years. This year he brings the Funk Jazz Afrobeat collective JON SPEEDY BAND.      JSB start a monthly residency at Brixton Ritzy with special guest vocalists / poets / MC’s each month. For the launch night, on Thursday July 12th, I  featured as guest vocalist and…

Zena and the Zohar Collaborations

In between the years of 2001 – 2004 I was doing a lot more singing with bands and choirs. More than what I am known for as poet. This year I have been asked to perform quite a bit with musicians. It’s been a joy. I shall be posting more footage and audio of these…

Womens Corner interview – Vox Africa

Rochelle Ferguson, is an independent producer for Vox Africa and when I received a call from her to appear on her program ‘Women’s Corner’ for a short interview, I was honoured to be part of a weekly happening especially designed to inspire, inform and affirm women. It was such a great interview. I was made…

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 –…

Dear Anger and the Three Furies

In March, of this year I faced a challenged I never expected. My own anger. I was asked to describe it, to critique it to make a creative pieces of spoken word theatre about it in collaboration with Dutch female MC Clara Opoku and South African Poet Mbali Vilakazi. The Three Furies project is commissioned…

My Time at LISPA

During a course at the London International School of Performance Arts, I had taken a module called The Dramatic Space. Students were asked to explore the energies in the a space and how with full body extension and contraction in movement, eyeline and wordless sound, the size and energy of a space can be changed…

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…

“Raising Game EP Xtra” – My Poetry and Music Compilation

It became too much. I started to hang my head in shame. The last request on how to get hold of some of my work got me saying to myself, ‘the energy behind your fans asking for cd’s or books straight after a gig is perhaps the most significant factor in you continuing to push…

Poet Storytellers to conquer Theatre? My take…

IN 2009 I performed “Security“, my first one woman show in Amsterdam’s prestigious venue Podium Mozaiek. In march 2012, I shall be returning again to perform “Travelling Light”. Both shows have challenged me to stretch my appreciation of Spoken Word and Poetry in the world of theatre and how extended works  such as these are…

Shoot the Messenger

On Sunday 18th, I was invited by Henry Bonsu to be a newspaper reviewing guest on his increasingly popular current affairs program on Vox Africa called “Shoot the Messenger”. It felt like we were just warming up when the 1 hour was over. Many thanks to Henry and Juanna, the STM producer for having me….