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

The Geeky Chef on fictional foods, cookbooks and the Portal cake

Geeky Chef Cookbook - Geeky Chef portrait, by Denis Caron (750x422)Cassandra Reeder is a chef with a very special repertoire. She makes fictional foods real.

From pumpkin pasties and Elven Lembas bread, to hot spiced wine and elixir soup, she has formulated some 80 recipes from beloved books, films, TV shows and video games on her blog, The Geeky Chef. Her home for succulent-sounding delicacies from the likes of Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda, Game of Thrones, Fallout 3, Portal and more, offers step-by-step instructions, themed photography and brief backgrounders on the origin of these recipes. And it’s become something of a web sensation. 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

Why do some finales leave us dissatisfied?

Reading on Broadway, Oct 6, 2007, by Michele Markel Connors (3008x1692)Endings are tricky affairs, particularly for fiction and screenwriters.

They don’t always need to be comfortable or straightforward. In fact, they shouldn’t be. No matter what the medium, you expect the author to fulfil a sort of unwritten agreement that, at the end of it all, you will have gained something from taking the time to engage with their story. That could be as simple as learning something new (as the classic parables of old do) or it could be more personal (learning deep truths about the nature of life or society through the eyes of a character you identify with).

Endings and why some of them leave us dissatisfied have been on my mind recently, since finishing the finales to several video games and fiction series. Both mediums have presented me with examples of endings that livid up to my expectations and others that fell short. 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

In Praise of Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers, profile photo by Roy Cox (2011)You might not know his name, but you’ll certainly have heard his music. In the wake of his contribution to Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, his profile has aptly been raised, but this musician, songwriter and producer has been unleashing trendsetting-hits for decades. A fact too few people appreciate to this day.

He is, of course, Nile Rodgers. One half of rhythm kings Chic, along with his late partner Bernard Edwards, Rodgers has masterminded hit, after hit, after hit, and then some. Continue reading

Reflections on Animal Farm

Animal Farm, George Orwell, by dewberry1964

“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

Orwell’s Animal Farm didn’t cross my path while I was in school – I suspect Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men took the spot it would have occupied. Having just finished the book it’s clear to me that I have been missing out all these years. Continue reading

In Praise of Anthony Horowitz

Lots of people have inspired me through the years. Family members, friends, teachers, musicians, actors, artists, photographers, sportsmen, designers, explorers; all have had an effect at some point during my life. It’s Anthony Horowitz, however, that holds a special place in my memory because this amicable writer and storyteller has not only helped me shape who I am, he opened my eyes to the joys of reading and, in turn, unlocked the limitless potential of our world. Continue reading