Always experimenting with the margins of language, exploring how human beings listen to and absorb the spoken word, Zena is revered not only for the easy power of her words but also for her opulent delivery, for the complex manipulation of her voice. Her work is deep and sensuous, rhythmic and startling. Her poetry is not simply supported by music, but is music itself.
Previous collaborations and performances include
The Big Chill , Barbados Jazz Festival, Latitude Festival, Royal Festival hall, Bookslam, Trafalgar Square Festival, Musicport Festival, Arvon residence performance poet tutor, Def Poetry – HBO, Future Sounds of Jazz tour (2004), WOMAD, North Sea Jazz Festival, The Cheltenham Literature Festival, The London Jazz Festival, Poetry International at the Royal Festival Hall, Renaissance One, The URB Hip Hop Festival – Helsinki, The Glastonbury Festiva.
She defines the fusion of poetry and music by including traditional African-instrumentation – the raw magic of the Kalimba. Zena has produced a body of work that reaches internationally diverse cultural and inter-generational audiences
She fuses jazzy Hip-Hop grooves heavily influenced by her world music collaborations with South African musicians Bekhi Mseleku, Moses Molelekwa, Busi Mhlongo and Pops Mohamed, one of her most important mentors.
Recordings include “25” Album – Apples and Snakes, Quiet Storm – Femi Temowo, Gumdrop – Hi-falutin, Can You Feel It – Positive Flow, Production 57 Poetry in Performance Vol. I, Funky Zen, Zohar, Melt 2000-Sanscapes, Pops Mohamed, Busi Mhlongo, Julie Dexter, Max Lasser,
Hukwe Zawose – Zimbabwe.
Music is integral to Zena’s performance and as Poet in Residence at the Poetry Café, And artists associateship at The Albany in Deptford, Zena devised workshops and hosted a series of spoken word, music and visuals evenings called Conversations.
Theatre and Radio
Zena has combined monologue, movement with verse and song to feel she has fully ustilized as many art forms that are available to her to tell be “an efficient storyteller”.
Broken words, Security, Travelling Light and The Three Furies are extended verse monologues and full length 1hour and 10 minutes shows that encapsulate Zena’s gift for conjuring images, telling moving and thought provoking stories in the lives of everyday but exrtra-ordinary people.
After attending the Theatre Royal Stratford Wast Musical Theatre course, Zena was asked to author the lyrics for all the rap tracks in “SLAMDUNK” – a hugely successful Hip Hop Basketbal Music production by Nitro Theatre Shakespeare’s Corelanus.
COMMISSIONS FOR RADIO
Click to listen Verse Illustrated – The Deadline, Bloodlines and Woven In Time are a pieces commissioned, performed and recorded live by BBC Radio 3, and 4. Zena has made numerous radio appearances including Bespoken Word, Poetry Please and Micheal Mcmillan’s poetry programme, The Verb.