Our new spoken word poetry club Mother Foucault is finally ready to launch! I am lucky enough to have been asked to curate Mother Foucault, set in Bristol Temple Meads railway tunnels, on behalf of the ever innovative creative rebels Boomsatsuma. They will be evenings of high thinking and low debauchery, set on intellectual uprising and furious dancing, and featuring the most powerful names in UK spoken word and poetry.
The launch gig gathers together the mighty legend that is Salena Godden, alongside magical Edinburgh Fringe First Winner Sabrina Mahfouz, with former UK Slam Champion Vanessa Kisuule, and myself – hosting and doing a short set.
And when the thinking is done, the dancing begins. Queen B from the Bristol underground scene will be selecting until lights out early in the morning.
Mother Foucault is a speakeasy soiree for the 21st century.
You’ve been quite a year already, quietly watching me travel the South East and South West of the UK, delivering workshops and tap dancing my tongue at gigs. You passed on my number in a late night bar to the gorgeous Ledbury Poetry Festival, and I want you to know that I have seen a lot of Ledbury since. I have been your Poet in Residence for schools, pulling poetry out of teenager’s mouths in leafy lanes and Pupil Refrerral Units. Teaching books to dance.
And now you tell me that there are even more magical things in store for the year. I am writing my first one woman show in 15 years The Space Between Words; I will be creating another hour long piece for composer Stephan Hodel that choreographer Fabien Reimar, a first soloist with English National Ballet, will create pieces that fellow ENB dancers will perform *, and have started a new novel Seven Small Books About Everything.
In between times you are sending me to North Somerset to co-ordinate a spoken word festival in schools and libraries. At the same time you are booking me into secondary schools and colleges across London for SLAMbassadors UK, while still finding a moment to make sure I can tutor and feature for the miraculous Arvon Centre. And the Royal Court masterclass has given me a certain stride useful to city living.
And if that wasn’t enough…? 2015, you have emailed me this:
*a beautiful film of Last Poet Standing created by stunning VJ Artist Juliana Ramos da Costa
Last Year I met up with Hollie McNish, Benjmain Zephaniah and Dizraeli in the dank and dirty confines of a Dalston recording studio to film some new cover versions of famous and favourite poems for a project called Page Fright. The idea of the project was to record both the cover version plus one of our signature poems, with each of the films acting as a portal to information about the poets, their influences, the artwork that has inspired them, the music that moves them, the schools of thinking that the poets belong to, and historical details – with links to further reading including thre performed poems. The films are to be produced as ‘apps’ in a sense, with the aim of using performance as a way of enticing young people back into reading. The films will soon be ready for viewing via their own holding website – but here is a preview of my version of Wilfred Owen’s Dulce et Decorum. I chose this poem not to commemorate or celebrate 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, but to remind us that no amount of poppies pinned on chests has changed a damned thing. We are still at war. And poppies still look like bullet holes.
My new collection The Woman Who Was Not There on Burning Eye Books will be launched in the smoke haunted half-written Soho environs of Phoenix Artists Club on November 6 at 6.30pm.
Phoenix Artists Club
1 Phoenix Street
London WC2H 9BU
It’s been a long journey. Please come and help me make the final few steps.
A few of my heroes and linguistic revolutionaries will be coming along to show love, and the pre gig will feature the awesome talents of Salena Godden, Raymond Antrobus, Anthony Anaxagorou, Megan Beech, PACE and others.
‘We need poetry like this. Fearless’ Benjamin Zephaniah
‘Joelle Taylor’s a shape shifter,myth maker, linguistic risk taker; poetical activist, surrealist with a raised fist. She knows how to handle a pen’ Patience Agbabi
‘A city gritted heart- beaten tattoo’ John Hegley
Free entry. RSVP email@example.com
Toward the end of the summer term in 2014 I was invited to Hampton Copurt House in London to record a live TED Talk. I chose as my theme the transformational effect of spoken word and slam poetry on young people, on those who are born of beauty but brought up in the ugly places. It is about speaking the silences.