Poetry in ‘Ackney

Five years ago I joined a poetry group in Hackney Central Library and felt very uncomfortable. Members either bared their souls or were suspiciously looking around the table. I did go with two nutcases who came along for the ride so in fairness it was difficult for the facilitator to pitch the event correctly. There were many oversized egos present and plenty of earnest poetry reading voices. Stephen Fry knows what I mean.

Anyway the facilitator persevered because he was passionate about his spiritual journey and just wanted to get a creative writing group going without any reference to ‘pop-up’ or any nod to the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012. I could be wrong.

The Wordlovers Society (ugh! How I hate that title) has its celebration of being active in Clapton Library for five years and that takes place freely on 5th December 2013 at the Hackney Museum at 5.30pm. Yay!

So tonight I went to the poetry-share (my word) hosted by Cirillo at the Centre For Better Health in Darnley Road Hackney. I was terribly late having had a nail-biting day. The sessions are every fortnight at 6pm. I arrived there breathless and near to the end but had to get there because of my own passion, my respect for the facilitator and other poets and because its a friendly social meeting.

During the last session we did discuss the use of the word “nutcase” even as we sat in the hall of a building dedicated to people with mental health issues and knowing full well that some of our poets had been “sectioned”. At one point we discussed Baden Prince Junior’s poetry and I’d refused to read one of the poems because it had in it the word “vagina”. Now that word is huglee! Then a member offered “I love the word “c**t and I needed a wire for my dropped jaw. In the same paragraph another guy said “half-caste”. Now I usually correct that racist language, with a big Miss Piggy smile and flick of hair , but I was still reeling from hearing the c-word, enunciated with a licked tongue poking around full lips, and the blatant confession from a woman about loving it.  The statement was made with full-on relish. Note to self, “I really must step up my lesbian detection powers”.

There will be a sharing of poems on 11th December 2013 at The Centre for Better Health Hackney as an added feature in the launch event of RAGWORKS wall-hangings. We shall view, sit around, munch on nibbles, possibly sip some wine and laugh. Everyone is welcome. Five o’clock.

Poetry at The Centre For Better Health Hackney

Haiku, sunshine, Barfly, Baden Prince Junior, Katrina, rude words, talks of arty farty types, cup of sweet tea, great host, smashing company, a nip into Sainsbury’s; what no meat paste?, a ride on the 48 bus, negotiating pedestrianized Bakers Arms and all that for free.

The poetry session takes place every fortnight. We read, we laugh, we dissect, we learn and we meet next on 20th November at 6pm.up_your_street_2[1] (2)

All welcome.

Stories of Migration….again

Up at Leytonstone Library E11 about twenty-three adults and a couple of kiddies waited patiently for the other seven or more audience members to roll in late so we could enjoy some plays. The MC aka playwright/director Paula David told us the four sketches represented the stories told to her by Caribbean people who were immigrants back in the day i.e 1950s to 1980s.

The venue is cosy, shabby and informal. The set on the stage was similar. There was no colour or brightness as the background to miserable personal real accounts acted out by stationary actors including Trevor David and Anthony Chisholm punctuated by the in and outs of an actress playing the part of a newscaster over the decades. The scripts attempted to heighten our senses of what Caribbean immigrants felt during Windrush times and later . When I say senses I mean the colours, the sounds, the smells. I got grey, bathroom damp, and green army uniforms smelling of the earth.

Story-telling on stage is what I visited today. No magic appeared.

Oh yawn. Haven’t we done all this? In the eighties? In the late seventies? Haven’t we the older generation, 50 plus in years, heard all the stories yet? Lenny Henry’s done his stories of first generation Caribbeans to death and now reclines richly on Premier beds.The local youth may have been expected but were absent today. They may have liked the stories but would have wanted action. “Stories of Migration” will likely go into schools. .

This is theatre rather than research and literature so I expected to be drawn in. I was. I expected to be entertained. I wasn’t. I expected surprises. None. I expected theatre. Nope.

The acting was what it was. The actors were mostly alone on the stage with their monologues. They mulled over scripted accounts which were personal histories and many of the audience members will have heard the same kind of stories from their grans and in a couple of cases experienced being in the fifties and head butting with “the grey Better life”. The best line was from the Grenadian who joined the British police force and recognised when he said, as he slid through a career trailing  in the odious remains of a colonial beast staffed by rude irritated white commanders,  “Racism became easier ” (to deal with).

What grants can do eh?

In the audience was Baden Prince Junior. Twas a pleasure to meet again the poet and teacher whose phrase “Don’t be clever, Trevor” is the best way to stop his workshop students of any age over-rhyming.

Don’t be clever, Trevor.

The event today was one out of the many thrown into the mix of “Words Over Waltham Forest”.

I did recommend that anyone wanting to participate in Peter Ashan’s forthcoming Heritage Project centred around immigration stories from  African-Caribbean and Asian Waltham Forest residents 1940-1990 get along to “Stories of Migration. That forthcoming project will be coming to an Asian centre near you! Funding presumed.

Thank you Waltham Forest Libraries for giving the public the opportunity to see free theatre. I’m certain I’m the only one who tells the libraries in advance if I’m not coming as is requested on the Eventbrite booking form. All the empty seats today eh? Fool me.

Three Mills in Stratford is doing a workshop day in October for £39 instead of £120 all about the creative process in film. Hmm.

And there’s more…On Thursday 10th October 6.30pm at Tower Hamlets Archives, 227 Bancroft Rd E1 (205 bus) almost opposite the estate where Billy Ocean grew up (yeah!) there’s an introduction to “Where I Belong” the local oral history project capturing (!) Asian and Black women’s herstories (!) of residency in Tower Hamlets. Free. Open to all.