Continuing from the success of our SPOKE: EARTH project, the third and final season of SPOKE kicked off in May with SPOKE: AIR, and involved even bigger, bolder and more inventive community projects.
AIR brought together many of the strands that made up SPOKE: work in schools and communities, the Young Poet Laureate for London and loads of activities in the Park itself, and finally rounding it up with WORDCUP2014, a giant slam poetry final at Stratford Circus. SPOKE: AIR was a season not to be missed.
THE POETRY POTTING SHED
“In sunshine or heavy rain the shed drew in the most amazing crowds of people who dug, planted and grew their own poetry…” - Laurie Bolger
After great reviews from community members about their times at the Poetry Potting Shed last season, we decided to keep the dream alive and reopen the shed for AIR at the South Plaza Fountains. Laurie Bolger was poet in residence at the shed and helped by shadow artist Becci Fearnley, Laurie facilitated some incredible workshops for members of the public, of all ages and abilities, helping them to realise their inner poets and make new connections within the community along the way.
In her follow-up blogpost Laurie tells of the curious Westfield shoppers investigating “what it was all about” at the shed, soon writing odes about love and grief that had everybody in tears.
Have a listen to a handful of incredible poems written by the public during one of Laurie’s workshops.
With workshops, live poetry readings and revolving poet residencies, the Poetry Potting Shed became an intimate and inspiring poetry hub for the community.
Jawdance upped sticks and moved over to The Broadway, Barking, for a night of rhyming hullabaloo in East London. Hosted by native East Londoner Kat Francois and including very special guests Piel Café and Yvonne Eba, also hailing from the Eastern side of town, we were all set for a very unique Jawdance indeed.
With a score of open-mic performance slots, featured poets and poetry films to sit back and enjoy, Jawdance Barking was a buzzing night of creativity and warmth, getting the people of East London to the forefront of the spoken word scene.
We’ve got some lovely photos of the Barking bunch doing what they do best here on our flikr if you’d like to have a look!
REPREZENT RADIO RESIDENCY
The SPOKE Radio Residency worked with young people in East London to get their voices heard in spoken word today.
We ran a series of workshops facilitated by the acclaimed spoken word artist Mr Gee, to create new and original spoken word broadcasts that would represent the verbal talents of East London’s young people.
All material was recorded through a series of workshops for East Londoners aged 18-25 at 3 Mills Film Studios, to be broadcast the following day on Reprezent 107.3FM. By encouraging the myriad of styles and voices that are present in the young community in East London, the Reprezent Radio Residency became a fantastic platform for budding artists to establish themselves as the future sounds of spoken word.
You can listen to the themed broadcasts here, each with an introduction from Mr Gee and brief interviews with the young spoken word artists.
Coinciding with the football World Cup, WORDCUP2014 was the finale event of SPOKE: AIR and of SPOKE as a whole project, so we really wanted to make it count. WORDCUP was a celebration of spoken word for young people, helping them to hone their writing and performance skills and gain confidence in their voices through a series of workshops with professional poets, and culminating in a giant slam championship at Stratford Circus.
“It’s so great to see how each team member is developing in their own way. Students who wouldn’t typically work together are supporting each other and creating some excellent pieces full of energy and meaning.” - Katherine Teacher at Eastlea School.
“The cool bit for me at the moment is the ‘trying stuff out’ as all the insecurities have gone, each team member wants their piece to be as good as it can. They are no longer afraid to fail so as a result are succeeding more” - Kes Gill-Martin, Shadow Artist.
Check out this video of Joelle Taylor’s team at St Paul’s School in Greenwich workshopping some ideas.
After weeks of preparation, the WORDCUP2014 finale took place on Saturday 12 July, with over 300 young people and families from across East London gathering at Stratford Circus to cheer on the teams.
Check out our full write-up of WORDCUP2014 here.
POETRY POTTING SHED COMMUNITY POEM
Finally, we brought in slam champion, theatre-maker, popular performance poet and Stratford East poet-in-residence Kat Francois to take over from Joelle Taylor at the Poetry Potting Shed. Kat ran drop-in poetry sessions for the public to create the SPOKE Community Poem – a massive collaborative poem to be exhibited in the Park itself!
The poem was a great collaborative effort by the public, helped by both Kat and illustrator and textile artist Cath von Isenburg, who transformed the community poem into a tactile, stage-stealing piece of art.
Take a look for yourselves!
THE FINAL SPOKE SHOW
Last on our SPOKE agenda was The Final Spoke Show! An epic afternoon of spoken word from some of the biggest names on the London scene, The Final SPOKE Show was headlined by Mr Gee, Laurie Bolger and Cat Brogan and featured six all-star supporting acts: Roundhouse Poetry Slam 2013 winner Antosh Wojcik, Young Poet Laureate for London 2014 shortlister Rachel Long, Early Doors Poetry Collective member Cecilia Knapp, Roundhouse Poetry Slam 2011 winner Zia Ahmed, poet, actor and theatre maker Kes Gill-Martin and Young Poet Laureate 2013 finalist Jolade Olusanya. What a line-up!
The Final SPOKE Show took place at the beautiful The Proud Archivist, a deluxe gallery/cafe/bar/restaurant and events space nestled along a quaint canalside path in Haggerston, East London. Both the poets and the venue were incredible, and there was a great sense of achievement at the progression and development of SPOKE as a project as we all said our goodbyes to the Final SPOKE Show and to SPOKE as a whole.
All in all, it’s been a brilliant and rewarding three seasons of SPOKE. What these events showcased, and what SPOKE has aimed to support and facilitate over the past year, is the truly awe-inspiring levels of talent and creativity that thrive in the East London community, from young residents to old, spanning seasoned poets to rhyming novices.
We’ve had a fantastic time working with you all on SPOKE, and we hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have!