It’s been a good few years since I’ve been to a poetry / spoken word event and even then I wasn’t bowled over and brimming in praise for the performers. I’m a bit ambivalent when it comes to poetry. Poets surround me, one particular mentor has written poetry since a very young age, and I remember her saying to me that every song is a poem and every poem the potential to be a song.
Being a black girl from South London, I was of course influenced by and eagerly devoured every ounce of American black TV programmes such as Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam. The film Love Jones was a massive cultural viewing event, and with the beautiful Nia Long as the chief protagonist who finds her voice, writing and speaking her poetry during the movie. If I’m honest, this is the closest I have ever gotten to writing a poem.
Or so I thought. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I, along with my immensely talented cousin Janice are heading to Southbank to enjoy Out Spoken inaugural show at London’s Southbank Centre at which they are beginning a year-long residency.
It was my first time in the Purcell Room, which is where the evenings’ entertainment would take place. On the billing was an eclectic mix of Poets, live musicians and DJ’s.
The impeccably turned out Joelle Taylor hosted the evening, a tour-de-force who’s energy and warmth was instantly infectious.
Music was from singer-songwriter Fiona Bevan and jazz collective Cloudsley.
For a poetry novice, I was unsure as to whether I would enjoy the night, and it’s fair to say not all of the performances were to my taste. The standout performer on the night was Raymon Antrobus, who paid tribute to his father and was by far the poet who spoke to me the most with his poetry highlighting his struggles with deafness from an early age.
I left the evening feeling energised. As a creative experiences go, it was one I’d visit again, hoping that each subsequent night is better than the last.