Poetry and Performance Development Day

The Poetry and career development day was hosted by poet Deborah (Debris) Stevenson  at the Roundhouse, Camden. The day was collaborative in spirit and a celebration of writing and the launch of Deborah’s debut collection: #PigeonParty.

Deborah hosted a workshop for 30 of us, winners of an IdeasTap brief. After a physical meet-and-greet (flailing arms and physical mirroring) we were asked to supply, using only nouns and verbs, our motivation to write. We all stammered in our summations; the irony not lost that we were at a loss to deliver in writing. Writers are, after all, typically insular and protective of their work. That attitude was soon dashed as we divided into groups and directed to write ‘speed poetry’; Deborah fired off provocative titles such as ‘Black Jesus’  and ‘Self portrait as a shoe’. Each person in the groups recited their poems to one another and received pithy feedback: e.g. ‘loved that line’, ‘great rhythm’, ‘that didn’t work’, ‘do not continue this poem’ etc etc

The latter part of the day we were all privileged to witness performances, hosted at the Camden Roundhouse, from Deborah’s mentors and fellows in her collective: Mouthy Poets.

This stunning collection of performance poets, musicians and spoken word artists stripped away any reticence I had to be an insular timid writer. The support and companionship evident among the performers was awing and fortifying to experience. They also made me realise that the answer to the stumbling block question: ‘Why do you write’, was identical to the answer to the question: ‘Why do you enjoy being an audience member at such events?’

It’s entering into the space where transmitting ideas and experiences are unbound by normal conventions and expectations. People can expand and unravel through the staggering malleability of language. The voice and its story can be stripped, swirl in poetry or be amplified through video or music.

Deborah requested we condensed the day into a Haiku, here’s mine:

“Leaves and open mouths
explain their grey yesterdays,
unite us today



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