Last weekend I took part in the Festival of Ideas as part of Open Generation, a project which saw spoken word artists, photographers and film makers come together to having our say on migration, in partnership with the Migrants’ Rights Network. I’d been mentored by Joelle Taylor, who has helped push me to practice and memorise my poems more, as well as help with confidence and performance preparation techniques. The day started with an early morning meeting, which meant I was able to stay for the two hours of TEDx Salon about free movement and saw some great talks with discussion at the end.
I went to one of the talks during the rest of the day called ‘Redefining Britishness’, I went to a workshop by Adam Kammerling, and got a bit of rehearsal time with fellow poet Melissa McDonald (who’s only done six performances and is already making waves!) There was so much inspiring stuff going on – too much to regurgitate here, but hopefully some videos will go up and I can share them another time.
We all got a plaque for taking part; there were prizes for each category, and I was lucky enough to win one. I was very pleased to purchase a tripod and some other bits from The Flash Centre, with some very generous vouchers. I will also be headed to The Dorchester’s China Tang for a birthday meal with my boyfriend, thanks to this. I admit, I initially felt uneasy about it being a competition, but it is nice to get this kind of recognition. I put the tripod to use this week at She Grrrowls and it made it so much easier… once I’d figured out with a couple of others how to put it up! Plus, having a luxury dim sum meal on my birthday makes up for all the soups and sandwiches you end up eating to find something cheap as a poet.
My poem itself was based on a Congolese woman who was raped, used as a sex slave, and then came to the UK to be detained at Yarl’s Wood. It was inspired by this Guardian article by Natasha Walter. I have known about these atrocities for a while and it was hard to write a poem without acknowledging the frustration that I too have a part to play in them, but thankfully more is being done to source conflict-free minerals (see Intel), yet we must still raise awareness. Poetry Meets Art is an event that does this, hosted by a wonderful woman called Emma Ako. I asked Emma for some places to share with people around this topic, so here’s where she suggested: