Monthly Archives: December 2016

Wordsmiths of Manchester 15/11/2016

As someone concerned with and forever negotiating her place in the world, I tend to fluctuate – as many of us do between the joy and highs of being alive, cradled by a greater being and having faith all will be ok to wallowing in the unsettling grip of anxiety I attribute to  weltschmerz – a feeling of melancholy and world weariness. With the global situation of war, poverty and suffering the way it is, it’s hard not to remember the hidden bursts of energy and promise in our everyday – here right on our doorstep. 

Why am I saying this? Yesterday I was invited to be a slam judge at a competition involving different primary schools who had actively worked with members of Shirley May’s amazing Young Identity group ( they meet at Contact theatre and I HIGHLY recommend ) as part of the Wordsmiths initiative founded by the dynamism that is Chris Jam. Together they deliver a brilliant programme encompassing literacy, activism, poetry and performance. 

Hosted with the rallying passion of Reece Williams and hearing pupils shouting loud, their lyrical manifestos of the hidden histories of Africa, black identity and empowerment together with their skilful weave of language and imagery-was an utter pleasure to watch. The room was bursting with an energy that spoke to me of ‘potential’. The right investment of unbridled passion, a well rounded education in which they see themselves represented and the space to think critically using the arts is what children of today need to nurture their potential. This event highlighted that so clearly. 

The hall projected confidence, intelligence and power and that alone left me with a spring in my step. We never had these types of programmes at primary school when I was growing up and they are vital to nurturing those very skills in children that have a far reaching influence in their personal growth than just mainstream education alone. I’ve worked in schools to have seen first hand what this type of programme does for the confidence of children. I want all these wordsmiths to never lose that ‘want to be made of Obsidian’ we encountered yesterday! We couldn’t stop clicking!  I also got to listen to one of my fave young poets in Manchester right now, Isaiah Hull finish off the event with his poetry and the pen in his hand. 

All the schools were excellent in different ways. To me in a world hell bent on silencing certain voices, every child that makes their voice heard is a winner! I thank them for reminding me of hope and then some! X

Panda Arts & Union Street Media Arts ‘Creative Breaks Celebration’, 13/12/2016

Today I attended the Creative Breaks Career Development Programme delivered by Panda Arts and Union Street Media Arts where participants have the chance to acquire skills to help further not just their careers but their own personal development too. Mentors and hidden gems helped teams to produce the very best pieces they could. 

Participants shared the various live projects they had been investing time and effort in for weeks and it was an absolute pleasure to see the results. We watched films about The Rochdale Pioneers Museum, The Ancoats Dispensary ( the first hospital to offer free treatment to the public ), a film about the creative breaks  programme itself and evenan alternative  Manchester tourist guide. 

The ‘Start at Square one’ project was heartwarming to watch and even more pleasurable to be a part of. I was asked along with four other artists, to feature in a zine magazine exploring the subject of ‘starting again’ and what this meant to all of us as BAME or refugee artists. 

The event ended with many certificates handed out by the board members to all those who had worked tirelessly to make their projects a success. 

The work of grassroots organisations such as these are a vital part of establishing and maintaining community cohesion. It also makes such a difference to peoples lives, a better understanding of the self and their own potential. Lets hope we see much more of this kind of work. Well done Panda Arts & Union Street. And for you reading, please support these projects wherever you come across them! X 

Outside The Frame Arts – Hard Rain Poetry Workshop, 28/11/16

A few nights ago we found ourselves in the cosy atmosphere of the creative hub called HardRain Poetry in Levenshulme. Held at Thairish cafe the last Monday of every month, we conducted an Outside The Frame workshop profiling and celebrating rich writing from the Palestinian diaspora. 

Introducing Palestinian writers such as Hannah Khalil, journalist and poet Iqbal Tamimi, spoken word poet Suheir Hammad and campaigner/performer Rafeef Ziadah to the group, garnered an amazing response from the participants. 

We looked at how human stories are carried across generations and the complex relationships we have with these memories. My own Nani’s stories of the partition, I carry in my blood so when I came across these poignant narratives of displacement and resilience and longing for a right to return, I wanted to see how others would respond. A rich blend of writing emerged, many thinking of their own profound experiences that they wanted to share.
 A scattering of ashes on hilltops, the grief of a daughter saying goodbye to her mother, the complexities of human connections, paintbrushes painting a script across a chest, two battleaxe grandmothers…

“I started to pray:
‘From my country’s thyme
And its hilltops’ sage
And from the fluff of its sparrows
May spring fall
To clothe my bare soul.'” – Iqbal Tamimi

Blood Stitched Time
I am the daughter
Coughing up the olive branch
The son rebuilding a nation
The father rebuilding himself
I am the mother
Stitching our stories into kefiyes
Stitched into our land
Of tears and blood
With years and love’ – Suheir Hammad 

It made me contemplate what stories  we would want to stitch into our garments – into the narrator’s kafiye, never to unravel? Follow us to find out what the participants came up with when I set this as a writing prompt! 

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Facebook Page: Outside The Frame Arts

Twitter: @Arts4Palestine