On Saturday 30th November I performed as part of the current Roundhouse Poetry Collective cohort in the Roundhouse Studio. I had just seen Kate Tempest’s play ‘Wasted’ there and so it was pretty exciting to be in the space. We had time to do a quick run through and then the doors were opened!
In the lead up to the showcase, I had suggested the theme of games, after thinking about a piece I wanted to write. Luckily people were on board with the idea and we all got writing. The piece I wrote was a story surrounding a game of Risk. I’d initially written it out in prose for a short story competition called ‘Story Slam Live’, but I never got to share it as names were picked out of a hat and there was a cap. I didn’t realise this, and really think they should have said beforehand as I had prepared it for two months, editing it down to 5 minutes. In the end, I enjoyed listening to other stories and I realised mine wasn’t really a story at all.
My story was based on a real life experience and my first attempt at writing about it was something I needed to get out. The poem that it became was driven by this same necessity to get people to understand the message that my story illustrated. The editing process came through getting feedback. At the Story Slam event I actually had one woman read through it as she was curious to see what I had planned (I had embarrassingly put my hand up when my name wasn’t read out at the start). Then over a few short weeks, with the help of Bohdan Piasecki and my collective of poets, it developed into a seven minute performance poetry piece.
I have provided two recordings here as the actual performance didn’t quite catch the first words. Funnily enough, we got the audience to pick names out of a hat to determine our order. Despite our worries about audience, apparently it was sold out! Maybe because of our run-through, it was less nerve-wracking, but I ended up performing my piece last. I didn’t hear much from the audience, other than one passing woman congratulating me. I was unsure and then feared the feedback from Inua Ellams (Bohdan was away for the possible birth of his child, so Inua kindly stepped in).
As I love Inua’s own poetry, it was especially meaningful to hear him use words like ‘brave’ and ‘gorgeous’ to describe my work. He even said that it broughr tears to his eyes because it was a story of human experience. Although I have had feedback from both him and Bohdan about making the ending ‘more of a purse-clip than a door slam’, part of me likes that sometimes. Part of me thinks that maybe it’s important that it is a door slam, as it serves to highlight the point of why I had to do the poem. And maybe I could have edited it again, but every time I look at it and think about taking something away or changing bits, I realise that it wouldn’t be quite how I want it, and I am happy with it. In a way, not editing it again after this process is a risk as people may not like the ending, but as long as people know it is a conscious decision that I felt was integral to my writing the piece. It is a poem that went through motions of quietness and rage, but ultimately, it was a call to action for everyone to take a risk now and again.