Barbican Young Poets showcase 2016 – in photos

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For the last eight years, poet, performer and teacher Jacob Sam-La Rose, has chosen a class of young people, aged 14 to 25, to take part in the Barbican’s poetry workshop series.

On Wednesday, March 23, the class of 2016 – who studied with Sam-La Rose and assistant tutor Rachel Long – showcased their work in front a live audience of family, friends and members of the UK spoken word community.

From meditations on loss, to unexpected tales of migration told through a brief history of vinegar, to thoughts on forgetting great ideas, and passages inspired by film imagery. What follows is a sample of the young poets who laid their hearts bare, lifted hopes and urged those present to think deeper about the world today. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask

Lex Records, 2005Danger Doom - The Mouse and the Mask (800x450)Danger Doom’s album is high-wire fun that’d be an offence to anyone who takes themselves too seriously. So you can bet it’d go down well with smiley Liam Gallagher and today’s hardline extremists, right?

A collaboration between enigmatic super-producer, Danger Mouse, and equally reclusive masked rapper, MF Doom, The Mouse and the Mask is a marvel of audacious jams and masterful short stories, spliced with animated skits and more humour than a Hanna-Barbera classic. Continue reading

Reasoning with Self EP launch: Shareefa Energy and friends

D’Gaf, LondonGolden Blue and Shareefa Energy, D'Gaf, Jul 21, 2015, by Aaron Lee (1920x1080)To see spoken word poet, Shareefa Energy, and her performing friends is to witness a bountiful celebration of generosity and positivity. A celebration that smacks in the face of the continued tokenisation of women with agency in our society.

Shareefa launched her debut EP, called Reasoning with Self, at D’Gaf in Leyton, Tuesday evening, July 21, and to mark the occasion she organised her own spoken word poetry night with a guest line-up of all-female acts. What follows is simply a taste of what these eloquent sisters had to show. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Gorillaz – Demon Days

Parlophone Records, 2005Gorillaz - Demon Days artwork, wallpaper edit (1024x576)A gimmick. That’s what they put Gorillaz’ success down to. Despite everything that had been achieved by this unusual musical concoction in the 18 months since the launch of their 2001 debut album, detractors still labelled them a here today, gone tomorrow band. But little did they know that the virtual band, created by musician, Damon Albarn, and cartoonist, Jamie Hewlett, would front what would later be acknowledged as one of the most influential and progressive records of the noughties: Demon Days. Continue reading

Hype your writers: spoken word excellence at SOAS University

Spoken word night, SOAS University, Apr 30, 2015, by Mohamed 'Mo Rhymes' Mohamed (599x337)Energised. That’s the way I am still feeling now, having returned from a spoken word poetry night at SOAS University, London. Hosted by poet, writer and teacher, JJ Bola, the evening (on April 30) was the final event in series that has grown far beyond what its organisers at the Decolonising Our Minds Society expected.

They’ve held events about “deconstructing social norms that are remnants of colonial thought” for last couple months, including a discussion with British-Jamaican filmmaker, Cecile Emeke, which had to be moved to a bigger venue because of sheer demand. The cosy chillout zone-cum-lecture space in SOAS’s main building was similarly packed for yesterday night’s parade of vibrant performances.

If I could show the sights, bring you the sounds and allow you to feel the exchange of energies at play that night, at Hype your writers like your rappers, with more than these simple words, I would. Videos were taken, but they’re never around when you need them and nor do they convey the full flavour in their 16:9 window frame. But, even without a poet roster or schedule sheet for this open mic night, I will try, right now, to give you a sense of what occurred. Continue reading

Visiting the ArcelorMittal Orbit

Olympic Park, London, Apr 27, 2015, by Aaron Lee, 02, OrbitThe view was astounding. You could see right the way across London, from Ally Pally in the north to Crystal Palace in the south.

Today I took a trip to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, and, thanks to the curiosity of my companion, found myself standing on the circular observation deck of the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Continue reading

You Have Too Much Shit: the self-help book that tells it like it is

You Have Too Much Shit (book, 2014) ,Chris Thomas (1400x788)It’s incredible really. Here in the Western world, we love to buy stuff. Fancy stuff. Cheap stuff. Desirable stuff. Stuff that the marketers say will make our lives better.

Of course, it never does, does it? If it did, then we wouldn’t need to buy the next thing they come up with. Continue reading

Inside the Barbican’s Digital Revolution

Barbican - Digital Revolution, Pyramidi 02, 20140715 by Aaron Lee (1448x815)Digital Revolution is a celebration of computing and all things interactive. By bringing together artists, filmmakers, architects, designers, musicians and game developers, it hopes to give you a sense of the breakthroughs that digital creatives are making across culture, as well as remind you just how dramatically digital technology has changed all our lives in less than 50 years.

What follows are some of the moments that fascinated me most as I explored the chambers of this computing archive and its digital delights. Continue reading