Feelings

Special People Who Made a Special Experience More Beautiful

I’ve been blessed with some amazing opportunities this year, allowing me to meet special people, who I’ve loved coming into contact with.  One of those opportunities was Rallying Cry, a project put on by Apples & Snakes, which culminated in a spoken word show.  Being part of Rallying Cry was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, pushing me further as an artist.  However, what made the experience so beautiful were the individuals involved, who I loved spending time with, especially during production week.

I had the pleasure of being mentored by the wonderful Zena, who I was also mentored by earlier this year when taking part in The Writing Room (also delivered by Apples & Snakes), another amazing experience shared with beautiful people.  Zena is a beautiful soul, with a pure heart and great energy, who gets the best out of those she works with.  Working with her has definitely made me a better poet.  Zena is also one of the best people to be around, full of joy, love and laughter.  I hope that I will not only continue to learn from her, but that she will be in my life for years to come.

Zena not only mentored me, but she mentored the beautiful Antonia, Daisy, Hansika, PJ, Sarah, Oakley and Marissa.  I loved embarking on this journey alongside them, where we all learnt and grew.  Each of them are doing awesome things in their own right and have brilliant things to say.

I already knew Daisy from Croydon, and we went through The Writing Room together, but I got to know her a lot better through this process.  I’d also originally met Hansika and Sarah through The Writing Room, so it was amazing for the four of us to carry on our poetic journeys together and really become friends.  I developed a special bond with Hansika, as we shared the room for our performance pieces, and I could not have asked for a better “room-mate”.  I loved our conversations and having the opportunity to rehearse together.  It turned out that we were linked by University of the Arts London, having each attended one of their institutions (I went to LCF and she went to LCC – if you know, you know).

As well as us emerging artists, there were established artists featured in the show – Joelle, Chiedu, Roger, Hannah and Francesca – who are all ridiculously talented, but down to earth and lovely to be around.  I clocked that Roger was Trini straight away, but I doubted myself and decided to ask where he was from.  Once I told him I was Grenadian and Jamaican, he took to calling me ‘Grenadian’, which I loved, as my Grenadian side is often overlooked.

I felt like I especially bonded with Chiedu and Joelle though.  Chiedu is an awesome person who I had some awesome chats with, talking about where were from in the UK, the poetry and music scenes, and a number of other things – I felt at ease speaking to him.  His piece also brought me to tears, touching on certain things relating to people I know and love.  Joelle is one of the strongest, supportive and lovely people you will ever come into contact with, bursting with energy and possessing a wealth of knowledge.  I loved when she would vent to me and I would just stand listening, giving her the chance to get it all out.  She’s someone I see quite regularly now and always enjoy engaging in conversation with – she also gives great hugs.

There is no way I could have grown and taken my performance to where it was without my incredible directors, Rob and Maya.  They challenged me, supported me, advised me and more.  Rob came up with the amazing concept for my piece, which I never would have come up with myself.  His mind is weird and wonderful, his being is energetic and enthusiastic.  He made me laugh, feel safe and feel prepared – he was amazing to work with and I wold love to have the opportunity to work with him again.  Maya did a significant amount of one-on-one work with me, encouraging me to dig deep and really feel the words I was saying.  She made me think deeper about how I deliver my poetry and she made me a better artist, within a short space of time.  I mean it when I say that my performance would have been a lot less effective without her.

Then there was the stellar and beautiful Raffi, the actor who stepped in and did a phenomenal job as the person who had a gun to my head,who I really loved working with.  The Trojan that is Bethany, who did the most amazing job with props, room layouts, and all other design stuff, and is also a proper lovely person.  The equally lovely and crazy organised Maria, who ensured we all kept to time and knew where we should be.

The brilliant team from Apples & Snakes – Lisa, Natalie, Divya and Tobi – who supported, planned, produced and most importantly, got the word out there.  I am incredibly grateful to Tobi for informing me about this opportunity, and most of all to Lisa, who even made this a possibility.

There are also others that I haven’t mentioned or named, but I want to say that everyone involved in this project is incredible and I enjoyed being in their presence.  Thank you to Apples & Snakes, and to everyone involved in Rallying Cry, I love you guys.

They are an Important Part of My Life

Where do I even start with my ever-expanding YP Insight family?  They have become a hugely important part of my life and not surprisingly have played a huge part in my year, with two events usually taking place a month, sometimes more.  I see their faces regularly and I speak to them regularly.

Every single person who comes to a Young People Insight event automatically becomes part of the YP Insight family, and the more I get to know those that engage, the more they come to mean to me on a more personal level as well.

Of course, there are some that I have gotten to know a whole lot more now, because of their consistent presence at events over the years.  It’s been great to see Gus at so many sessions of The Kickback, fully involved in the conversations and providing some very interesting views.  I always love seeing Kris and convincing him to jump onstage at Poetic Insight to shower us with his talent – I can also talk to him for ages, whether it is after an event or just randomly bumping into him on the street.  I’ve also loved having Renee back, with her passionate personality and strong views.

Then there are my beautiful Poetic Insight veterans – Aaron, Sid and Annotate.  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Aaron for a couple of years now and I love his presence, his poetry and his personality.  Talking to him is always lovely – we also had a really good conversation on the bus this year, which made smile.  Sid is a great guy and great poet, very down to earth and humble, in spite of his awe-inspiring talent.  We’ve enjoyed some very good conversations this year as well, and he has never stopped being supportive.  And there is Annotate, who I not only see at my own events, but a host of other poetry events and just randomly in passing.  Supportive, motivated and willing to learn, I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know Annotate a lot more this year and have appreciated the love he shows to YPI – it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

I also have to mention the returning beauties who helped me celebrate YPI’s 2nd birthday – shout out to Daniel, Andrae, Randy, Stephen, Laurence, Danielle, JayJay, Kris, Hakeem, Joan, Frances, Jason, Becky, Jenniah and Nomes.  And thank you to the new beauties who helped me celebrate as well – Soad, Mia, Ian, Mohammed and Fez.  Apologies from now if I missed out anyone.

I’ve just got to take a little time to speak about Joan here, who does so much in the Croydon community and has been an avid supporter of YPI for almost all of its [soon-to-be] three years.  She has been at most of the events in 2018 and will continuously spread the word, which means more to me than I think she knows.  People like Joan are precious jewels that you do not want to lose.

There have been a host of new faces that have joined the YP Insight family this year and made a quick impact.  I already told you about Mhairi, but there is also the funny, sassy and outspoken Antonia, who has made her presence felt at every Poetic Insight since July.  The phenomenal Zhanai, who has come out of her shell immensely since I met her in July before my break – I am hugely proud of her.  Spoken word enthusiast Elisha, special and sweet, who I encounter and speak to at a variety of events.  Samirah, a raw, emotion-fueled talent, who I have also struck up a friendship with. AdamSpeaks, a powerful, humorous poet, who is a lovely guy and easy to speak to. And Kane, a fire poet with a pure heart who really gets what YPI is about – I’m so glad he’s part of the YP Insight family and that I have the chance to get to know him.

Then you have Woodzy, who not only debuted one of my favourite spoken word pieces at Poetic Insight this summer, but he also became a large presence in my life over the second half of the year.  I initially met Woodzy at a poetry night in Croydon, which I love by the way – shout out ‘What You Saying?’.  I don’t remember who approached who, but all I know is that I loved his poetry and I’ve loved it ever since.  When I say this guy has got bars for days, I mean he’s got bars for days – have one conversation with him and you’ll find out.  He came to my events, we sat together at a whole lot of poetry events and I saw him do an amazing music set in Croydon too – he was a recurring face during my summer.

This list could go on, and on, and on.  I haven’t even spoken about Jess, Destini, Chantae, Si-Ann, Humi, Daisy, Emma or Lola (who I collaborated with on a very special event).  I’ll just say that I appreciate every single member of the YP Insight family and love you guys very much.  You inspire me and motivate me to do better.  I say it all the time, but I really do mean it when I say that I could not do it without you.

They All Effected Me in Some Way

Yesterday, I started off my series of blog posts about the beauties who have played a part special part in my 2018 by writing about Billy and Ken, who I met in Bridport early this year as part of TCFT.  I’ve decided to spend a little more time on some of the other people I spent time with in Bridport, as it was a meaningful part of my year.

Tina and Robert have been a special part of every one of my years since meeting them in 2015.  They are caring and wonderfully supportive, always there with words of advice and encouragement.  It was lovely to conduct video interviews with Robert for a third year – it has become one of my favourite parts of TCFT – and also hear more of his amazing stories.  Tina was the usual wonderful Tina, taking time to speak to me about TCFT Croydon (I’ll focus more on that in another post), but was also on hand to speak to me all throughout this year through our email exchanges and meetings in London.  She is truly the most amazing woman.

I’d never met Louise before this particular TCFT residency, but I was happy to finally meet her on this one.  Louise is kind, supportive and a very good listener – speaking to her was just what I needed when I was struggling slightly.  In addition to Louise, there was Louisa, a beautiful poet who I had the pleasure of leading out on workshops with.  There was a real yin and yang thing between the two of us, with Louisa being more of a page poet and me being more of a performance poet, which worked well.

Having dinner in the evening with my fellow artists was also one of the highlights of my week, with lovely food made by Alex, Rachael and Francesco, which I was incredibly thankful for.  I loved being able to spend some more time with my darling Francesco from Italy, who I felt like I bonded more with during that week.  I was able to have him read some of his beautiful poetry to me and we spent quite a bit of time dancing – he truly does bring me joy.

A lot of time was spent dancing when around the beautiful AK as well, who has the most amazing taste in music – his laptop and speaker brought me joy over and over again.  He also took a liking to my name, like the lovely Sam, Qan and Awais, who made me laugh a whole lot.

I developed a special bond with the talented Kaitlyn, whose energy would astound me.  We would have some really nice conversations and I foundnd myself offering words of advice as one of the older individuals there, but more than anything, I loved watching her grow in confidence and throw herself into the TCFT process.  Another young person I developed a bond with was Aimee, which seemed to happen over poetry.  What was hilarious to me was Aimee saying that she begun to read poems in my voice after seeing me perform, as I still don’t think that I’m that great of a poet.  I do know that I was able to inspire her in that week, which means a lot to me.

Being in a smaller group, I also got to spend some more time speaking to people from previous TCFT residencies that I had spent minimal amounts time with, like Finn, who is very funny, Kierra, who is very sweet, and the force that is Jade, who continues to grow more every year I see her.

However, the two individuals who played the biggest part in making my week special were my beautiful, beautiful hosts, Imanda and Makeda.  I had met them back in 2016 during the TCFT residency in Bournemouth, but I didn’t spend much time with them unfortunately, which is a shame because they are such inspiring individuals.

Imanda is one of the fiercest, loving, strongest women you will ever come across – a Mother Lion who will do all she can to protect her cubs.  She treated me with the most care and consideration, making me feel at home immediately.  I also enjoyed our evening chats, especially when she would share her life stories.  I am not exaggerating when I say she is amazing.  And then there is her lovely daughter Makeda, who is wise beyond her years and good at holding conversation herself.  We had a lot of laughs, a lot of fun and she definitely made me feel at home.  I loved staying with them and was actually sad to go.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to mention everyone, but I enjoyed spending time with every individual involved and they all had some sort of effect on me.  Every one of them is part of my TCFT family, who I love with all my heart.