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Archive for November, 2011

Back to London, back to the blog


by Yemisi Blake

My seasons are all topsy-turvy. Having lived just north of the equator for a year, I’ve been back in the UK for some months and am coming out of hibernation just as the winter sets in. I’ve had a strange reverse culture shock since arriving back, but already some beautiful things have happened.

In terms of work, this new year (Autumn 2011 – Summer 2012) will be largely devoted to Shake the Dust, a national youth poetry slam project taking place across England in the run up to the Olympics. I’m part of the national production team, and am honoured to be working with some of the top poetry-in-education practitioners, arts professionals and organisations in the country. The project is the largest of its kind ever to take place in the UK. But as exciting as Shake the Dust will be, I hope it will go much further than one project, to create an ongoing national youth poetry slam. For more, keep your eyes on the blog.

This month I had the incredible opportunity to go to back to Chicago as part of the London Teenage Poetry SLAM Exchange. This time I worked with the wonderful Sifundo as co-poet coach for a team of emerging young poets. We kept a blog, which will continue to grow as the team digest and reflect on their experiences: http://slaminchicago.tumblr.com/.

One of my best memories since arriving back is going on a photographic walk in my (newly) local park with poet and photographer Yemisi Blake, where he took a picture of me for his Great British Youth exhibition. I felt a bit daunted by the idea, but Yemisi has a way of taking pictures that makes how you look less important than who you are and what you love. Thanks Yem.

Another beautiful highlight was being interviewed by the fantastic Naomi Woddis for her programme The Conversational on Reel Rebels Radio. You can listen here.

More news to follow. It’s good to be back!

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The City Limits in photos

I left Singapore with the most beautiful rush. The City Limits performance, a culmination of six months of collaboration with fourteen incredible Singaporean artists, was a highlight, not just of my year but of my life. One of those times when I know exactly why I write, perform and work with other artists. Here are a few moments…

Performing 'Condo', a performance piece I wrote with Jun Hanzer. It features a poem, a pedal looper and Jun's video projections, and is written in the voice of a condominium being constructed.

I had to learn how to use the pedal looper to perform (and write) the piece!

The City Limits explored Singapore (and its limits) from all kinds of strange and upside-down angles. This is an image from 'Seasons', a piece I collaborated on with Charlene Shepherdson, Joe Nair, Daniel Tan, Jun Hanzer, Bani Haykal and Ila, merging music, words and images. Singapore has no seasons in the temperate sense. What are its own seasons then?

I sang on stage for the first time in a long while. Working with so many talented artists in different art forms made it possible to try new things and surprise myself...

The City Limits crew: Joe Nair, Daniel Tan, Sharda Harrison, Charlene Shepherdson, Rae Lim, Shaun Koh, Ng Yi-Sheng, Chong Koh You, Sean McMenamin, Bani Haykal, Ila, Jun Hanzer, Kash Cheong, Marc Nair (who brought us all together) and me.

Word Forward supported the City Limits project, and the final performances took place at Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore on 22 and 23 July 2011. Photos by Shaun Koh and Wen Ai.

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