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i always cry when i hear a poem read. (1)

Damilola Odelola, 2014

as some of you will remember, I made some work with boni caincross over the last few years, which focus on voice and the spoken word.

since being in london, i have delved into the amazing spoken word/performance poetry scene here - managing to see a stack of really amazing poets that i now stalk online/call friends.

speaking of which, last night, kareem parkins-brown (no obvious relation) invited me to the showcase for this year's barbican young poets programme.

it was phenomenal.

25 poets, all under 25, all crazy skillful and electric.

i'm not versed in writing about poetry (geddit?!) - yeah, that's why - Ed. so i'm not going to do the night justice at all, because i can't write about each and every poet, nor even describe the night very well.

but i will say that it got me. i clicked and cried a lot.

i'd never seen group poetry before and some of them were phenomenal. one in particular - speaking about families and homes and using the form of the group to highlight the range of disparity in a family as in the group itself. holy shit, astounding.

some individual stand-outs included emily harrison, who spoke of falling in love with strangers in t-cut; shonshana anderson's cool american delivery that reminded me of a young patti smith mixed with a young lily tomlin; greer dewdney and her work meant to be - a cutting work a social situation, using a form invented by one of the other poets ankita saxena; kareem (yeah, so what if i'm biased - he was amazing and had people standing up for him! deservedly so) with his work about his mother and the way he described her sighs and posture of sadness; antosh wojcik with his well-crafted gonzo/surrealism and cameron brady-turner's living along: an experiment, a crushing story of OCD that had us all gasping on a bus.

 (cue envelope opening)
and dami odelola, who had the line of the night in her work and the stuff that comes before a fall. seriously, all the ladies in the house were clicking and showing appreciation like mad, and probably a stack of men too. i can't quite remember because i was hit.

it was a line that hasn't left me. i couldn't really hear the three poets after that line, because my mind had  hit a glitch and was just skipping back and forth over that line.

aside from the lyricism itself, it was a line that struck me squre. and i knew from then on, for the first time in my life, that being used by men was not my fault. but it wasn't entirely theirs either - i was a solution to a gnawing hurt.

it still makes me cry.

and i'm sorry you all couldn't hear that line. because although i've posted the image of it up there, taken from the bodacious anthology that they produced, it's not the same. it's not even close to sitting in a room, hearing the energy, the timbre, rhythm; seeing the gestures and the fire inside, and being in a group of people for whom 16 words hit them behind their eyes at the same time.


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