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Friday, 31 May 2013

Identity Mix-Up in Edinburgh #1: Countdown begins!

Yipee-ay-yee-yay, we're going to Edinburgh!

So my show's about "identity" and what that all means in a post-post-colonialist/feminist/queer/political/vegan [insert more here as you see fit] world. Basically, how are identities changing and what happens to the ignorant fools (i.e. me) who think they can transcend it all and just "be themselves"?

Before I fully got to grips with the concept - if, indeed, I have now - I had to submit a blurb, and this is what I came up with:
Keith Jarrett explores the obsessions of our label-driven society, going on an interactive tragi-comic tour of mistaken identity, beginning with the birth of his name and ending with the death of his gay poem.
I have no idea what I meant by tragi-comic, except to say that it'll be serious in places and (hopefully) funny in others. I also know that I'll be exploring some personal stuff, and I'll have more details on that. Meanwhile, here's a blurry photo of my listing in the just-published Fringe Festival Programme which arrived in the post yesterday.

Any ideas you can throw in, just drop me an email or comment... I'll also be filling you in on James, Kirsten and Lee's shows - the other Utter! Poets who I'm sharing the experience with. (Links to be added later)

**Coming soon... more info about the show and why it will save wo/mankind!**

Friday, 24 May 2013

NTS Radio, School of Spoken Word, Mix-Ups

If you missed me talking on the Re:Versed show @ NTS radio on Monday (and "scratching my brains" live on air), follow the link below for a chance to listen again!

Really great to be there alongside Rob Auton (with the vegetarian who's never seen a cow), Michelle Madsen (with crappy espadrilles), James Massiah (with "post-theistic" chill) and, of course, Angry Sam (grrr!). What you can't hear of course, is the guy outside the window sticking his fingers up at us while I'm reading my poem. Yeah, I kind of love Dalston (and I always did, way before it became so hipster-fied that Vice magazine had to go in search of a new one!)


While I'm plugging things... School of Spoken Word INSET for teachers (daytime) and showcase (evening) taking place June 4th at the Southbank Centre. The INSET is for anyone working in secondary schools, whilst the performance is going to be a bit of a celebration of what the programme's achieved so far.

I'm also far behind on talking about Identity Mix-Up, the show I'm doing for Edinburgh. Keep a look out for more info over the next few days.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

COMING UP... Let's Talk About Mental Health, on Monday

It's the last day of Mental Health Awareness Week today! But it doesn't all have to end there. On Monday next week, I'm happy to be performing as part of a project organised by Time to Change and A Band of Brothers. Both organisations are campaigning hard to end the stigma around mental health.

The statistics are all out there: 1 in 4 people in the UK, in any given year, will experience some sort of mental health problem; depression is one of the most misunderstood illnesses in the world etc. We know this.

But when we look at gender, and race, there are still a lot of questions. Women are diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate than men. People from an African or Caribbean background are less-frequently diagnosed and treated for common mental disorders than any other ethnic background, yet we are 3 to 5 times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. Compared to other ethnic groups, we are also more likely to be offered medication than talking therapy, and more likely to be diagnosed with severe illnesses.

A panel will be discussing some of the taboos of mental health and there'll be workshops and personal accounts from people on different ends of the mental health system. It should be a serious but engaging evening and I'm working on a new poem for it now!  

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Spoken Word Educators... Update

The Spoken Word Educators programme is building on the successes of the year: we're all learning more, writing more, and passing on skills that ensure the young people we're working with gain confidence, and literacy, communication and team work skills. So far, all six of us trainees have been based in one school, taking poetry lessons, mentoring sessions and supporting additional classes. We've also been studying at Goldsmiths University, looking at educational policy and pedagogical approaches, as well as developing our writing and teaching skills through personalised seminars and workshops. It sounds like a lot of stuff; it is!

Now, we are proud to present thirty-five of the people that matter most: young people from Holy Family's Spoken Word Club, who meet every week after school to create and develop their poetry. Just like in our Winter Showcase (see video above for some highlights), these dedicated 11-16 year olds have been encouraged to work in teams to produce group pieces. Some of them have been shy; some are working with people they've never met before; some have had communication or literacy difficulties; yet all have been willing to work through these issues to produce powerful poetry.

On June 19th, members of our Spoken Word club will be showcasing more of their group poems. We also have special guest Malika Booker. If you're interested in attending, please follow this link. And if you feel you can support the project in any way, please get in touch!

A lesson in empathy

The other thing we've learnt is if you're going to instruct a group of young people to piece together a group poem, it's a good idea to do it yourself too. We didn't have long to work on this... and we were all very nervous! So it makes me appreciate even more our young poets at Holy Family! Here are Indigo, Pete and my efforts:

REMINDER: Jazz Verse Jukebox tonight.... See below for details!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

COMING UP NEXT... Jazz Verse Jukebox @ Ronnie Scott's, Sunday night!

Really looking forward to Sunday!! Come along!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Hainault v Newbury Park... it's out!

Last time I posted, I mentioned that I've just published a first collection of some of my Spoken Word pieces. I thought it was about time! I have poems going back a few years I wanted to pull together, many of them loosely connected with the title theme. I'm happy to say that copies are now available on Lulu and will be on Amazon in the next few weeks. More news to follow...