A Poem

I’m still doing #NaPoWriMo I promise, haven’t missed a day. I’m going to share a poem with you that I read on the Sugar and Dread podcast later this week. Here it is in picture format because it’s easier to keep the form correct that way…

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NaPoWriMo Update

So I’d posted my NaPo poems on twitter and forgot to put them here on my actual blog. I’ve deleted them from twitter now though because I’d rather do NaPoWriMo privately this time round.

I’ve been doing NaPo publicly again this year, maybe even more so than I have done for the past 2 years. It’s just started but I’ve realised I don’t want to do it in this manner for the rest of the month. I don’t know if I’ll post more poems here on the blog, as much as I’ll continue to do NaPoWriMo. I’ve started and thus I’ll finish, mastermind tings.

I will still be sharing work on The Sugar and Dread Podcast when it comes out each week. I just won’t be sharing day to day online.

Thank you for reading, and a small small explanation for those of you that follow this blog.

NaPoWriMo 2018 day 1

Hello Hello, it’s me again. In 2018 it’s going to be poems and maybe a small small intro poem. But over @Sugar_Dread we’ll be doing a podcast and providing prompts so I’m not leaving you with anything less.

Here’s day 1.

Not Everything Buried Grows

My body is a graveyard of important lessons
I never learned. When I walk, all the bones clang,
my feet knelling with every step.  

There are teachings tattooed
on the inside of my ribs,
things I store under my flesh
so they never get away.

I seem content trying to stuff myself with rot,
hoping that more bones can’t make a sound.

A man, a wiser man that is not me
would hear the song of rattling bones
and take it for a warning.

Not everything buried is dead.

BYP Showcase 2018 GUSH

March 18th was the Barbican Young Poets showcase. Barbican Young Poets (BYP) is a programme for writers aged 14-25 by Jacob Sam-La Rose in association with the Barbican. It’s an annual scheme where Jacob and assistant tutor Rachel Long lead poets along a journey of creative and artistic development which culminates in an anthology and final showcase performance.

The 2018 cohorts showcase performance took place in Milton Court Theatre at Guildhall. It was a truly beautiful evening of poetry and community. There is so much to say about BYP and the work Jacob has done to forge and foster a community (unlike any I’ve known in a creative capacity.) There is so much to be said of Jacob and his import to art in the UK and abroad but for the purposes of this post I’m going to focus on March 18th and why it was such a special occasion to behold and be a part of.

First things first the show itself. You go to a restaurant and the service is amazing, the view is beautiful, they’ve got the exact brand of scented candle you like, it’s all lit. But if the food you receive doesn’t bang, then it’s all a bit dead. Those things don’t serve to enhance your evening rather they just upset you even more. “I was so annoyed, they had those lovely scented candles but the food itself was so dead! Eurgh, the candles had more spice than my meal!” The BYP showcase this year had all the spice, and all the flavour. The performances across the whole evening were incredible and showcased the breadth of creative excellence that had been challenged, stretched and nourished over the course of the programme for that year.

I wasn’t seated in the audience for everyones performance but I heard them all, often cheering and making those groans good poetry evokes in the wings. My personal highlights of the night were: Christy Ku with I Eat For You which I heard from the wings and was absolutely spun. The writing, the delivery, all absolutely marvellous. Matt L T Smith whose poem title I don’t know but it encompassed father and brother, cigarettes and imagery that lodged itself in the gut. Sir Troy Cabida with Closed Fist and Open Hugs who wasted no words and held the audience in his palm the entire performance. Laurie Ogden with two poems the first of which I don’t remember title but the second Delicate I do. She writes in a way that is both hard and soft at the same time, where the poem might break you but demands you treat it with care also. Her words are as perfectly balanced as you on the edge of your seat when she reads.

I bring up the quality of poetry at the showcase because it’s important to put the due level of respect onto BYP and the work done. You don’t get that energy and that buzz without amazing craft first and that is something Jacob and Rachel soak into your brain over the course of the programme. No one wants dead food, but sometimes we accept mediocre food because of the bells and whistles around the experience. What you get with BYP and Jacob Sam-La Rose is delectable food with the amazing experience too!

So now that I’ve gone around the houses to say that the poems were banging, let us talk about the experience. What a time to be alive! Where do I begin? Any audience with Omar Bynon present is an absolute joy. The love and support in the room was beautiful to behold from BYP alumni to people new to poetry, it was an environment that was a pleasure to perform in.

One thing I overheard was a conversation about someone who had come to the showcase with no experience of poetry, was blown away and now wanting to get involved. Or hearing an artist friend of mine conversing with Jacob afterwards about how the poets were making images with their words and evoking in him the desire to create. It is beautiful to see a night of poetry change or inspire people.

I’m really going on much longer than I had planned, so after this point you shall be freed. I say this like you can’t just lock off the article and go bout your business if you want.

I mentioned BYP alumni a little earlier and they are people who have completed one of the previous years of the programme. What BYP is, more than just an amazing annual programme for young poets, is a community. In the audience you could feel it, on the stage you got that sense too. Not everyone is as distinct an audience member as Omar Bynon… in fact no one is as distinct an audience member as Omar Bynon… maybe Gabriel Akamo… hmmmm… I digress. Few can holler like Omar, but the community loves, it still hollers and you can feel the past generations of BYP giving to the new cohort as they step out on stage. You can feel them being present as the poems are given into the world and it’s beautiful. For that I thank all the alum that were there. Also it’s just incredibly lit to be gathered post show and to see the number of BYP poets in the building. They are a swarm of buffness and creative excellence, love and artistic brilliance. The bonds of friendship were evident to see in that space on the 18th and not just between people of their own year groupings. It is a true community which means bonds cross the generational borders. Everyone moves, interacts and crosses over, sometimes you forget that you never actually did a year of BYP with that person, that’s how great the community is. Needs must that at this point I praise and thank Jacob for fostering such into existence. You’re wavy sir, and we love and appreciate you.

This is framed as a blog post, but I think it’s just a gush. So thank you for listening to me gush.

Trimvincibility

“Has a Black man written an article on the power of trimvincibility? Because yes pls.” – @bobimono

There is an essence, an energy, an onset of power that comes when one leaves the barbershop freshly trimmed. Trimvincibility is the feeling of temporary deification which comes with a new trim. It is one of the most powerful states of the black man. It is important to note that black women can also channel trimvincibility and theirs too is a very powerful state once achieved.

Trimvincibility isn’t all about having a new haircut, it’s not that simple. There’s something more to it, else those that primarily use scissors as opposed to clippers on their hair would experience it too. So what is it? When you enter the barbers, cap on because you’ve been ashamed of your nappy head for at least a week, there’s a sense of anticipation. You’re pre trim, pre glory, you’re merely human and you know it. You’ve known it for so long now you’ve forgotten the trimvincible feeling, doubted its power even. Then you take your throne.

Your trusted barber, cah yuh cyant let no man cut yuh head if him ah nuh summady yuh truss, then begins the good work. I am a skin fade man, leaving at least a 3 on top because of the way my hair grows. Perfect line up then the glorious spray of mist to seal all your powers. It is done. The mirrors in the shop are trembling in fear and awe, and the pavement quakes as it prepares for the confidence of your step. I’ve legit left the barbers, seen myself in a shop window and jumped back because of my buffness. The feeling of a fresh trim is elite.

There is debate about how long a trim lasts, all I can say is that some people’s powers are more potent and durable than others. It is known that the second or third day of a trim is usually when it reaches peak strength. This is the time to run into your wcw for her heart will be cut open by the sharpness of your shape up. Do it, I’ve heard it works.

But why does trimvincibility occur? I spoke earlier about being ashamed of your nappy head. Has the trimvincible feeling gained its power because black hair grown out is something to be embarrassed about? If this is the case then it’s a feeling of the black community because those outside our community seem not to take any notice. White folk complimenting my hair has no correlation with whether I’ve got a trim or not. They’re oblivious, until it’s really really grown out, then they might notice.

There is the performative element of a trim, that others will see you and think you edible, that your boys will gas you and that heads may turn on the street. There is a large internal confidence that swells from a fresh trim too. The deification doesn’t occur because other people will see your trim, rather in the benevolence of your newly trimmed state you display your glory for others to see.

The deification occurs because you look good, and you know it without a doubt for your head has been anointed with sauce by your barber. There is no room for insecurity because you are sure of what you see. You see yourself in a heightened and sharpened form. You know others will see it too and that simply adds to your powers. You are trimvincible now, hair criss like Reggie Yates own and nobody can’t tell you nothing!

Writing As Breathing

Let us not be the awkward acquaintance friends who say “long time no see” after an extended period of not seeing each other. In those scenarios we aren’t really ever happy that the period of not seeing has come to an end but we grin and endure the encounter anyway.

This week I had the privilege, thanks to the legendary Jacob Sam-La Rose, of being one of a few poets in residence at St Paul’s Cathedral. This is not the post where I delve into the beauty of this experience, that entry comes later. During one of our many discussions I gurgled forth a statement that has had me thinking, ‘writing is a form of breathing.’

The room did a chorus of ‘mmmm’ and I felt like I’d asked a question of myself without meaning to. “Writing is a form of breathing aye Jeremiah, what do you mean?”

I guess I can’t start this section without first quoting the great Jordin Sparks, ‘tell me how I’m supposed to breathe with no air.’

If writing is breathing then I’m coming to realise that the air is made up of many different gasses. I believe that the oxygen of writing is reading which really worries me because I don’t read anywhere near as much as I’d like. From what I’m learning and the habits I see of writers I revere, reading is essential. Your breathing will become very shallow eventually if you don’t read.

Outside of that I think other things that constitute the air for our writing is life and all the different things that constitute that for each of us. I know people, community, society, love and music are big contributors to my air and so they’re often reflected in my exhalations which are mostly poetry.

As I delve into this entry I realise there’s probably a deep science that could be applied to this metaphor but that’s long for man right now.

I hope if you’re reading this you’re very clear about the following because if not, I don’t know for you at all. Breathing is fundamental to life, it’s a bit of a madness if you aren’t doing it. In the same way, for a writer to inhale and exhale, to partake in the cycle of listening and giving is essential for their existence as an artist. (I say artist because I didn’t want to say writer twice so close together, I think writers are artist, it’s not a deep statement I’d go out on a limb for, so yeah.)

If you stop inhaling you’ll die, and to keep inhaling without exhaling is an impossibility. It’s really easy for me to do this fake breathing, to inhale trash air and exhale shallow breaths that aren’t really functioning to the betterment of my being as a writer.

It’s so important for me to experience life, to live and listen and not be a boxed up hermit cotched in some dark gutter. I need to inhale. In the same breath, (see what I did there), I also need to give myself space to exhale. I cannot breathe in and breathe in without giving myself space to write.

We don’t think about how we are breathing until something goes wrong. As a writer however I am still figuring out how to have breathing down as second nature. Of course sprints for the bus will be necessary and breathing after that is a bit mad but simple walk down the road can feel like stress sometimes.

I don’t have the answers for this but after this residency I’ve learnt the importance of giving yourself the space to exhale all that is being taken in, the space to write. When I say space here I want to conflate it with time and let the two function as synonyms for each other because it’s my blog post and it’s an idea I’d like to leave you with to stew on.

I do not have a bow to tie this post up with because I am still learning, still understanding what it means to write and so there are no answers here just explorations.

 

ROUND 11 #NaPoWriMo (day 29)

Big man like Anthony Joshua taking down the legendary Vladimir Klitschko. What a fight!

My poetic recommendation for today is missing because I have left it too late… APOLOGIES!

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A lens can compress distance,
force motorways to fit between screen and face.

It is still a wall.
My emotions are moving like fast cars.

There is a pile up on your picture.