Monday 26 November 2012

Lyric L - Doot Dude (See her LIVE this Thursday at Chill Pill)

Chill Pill is this Thursday (29th Nov) at The Albany and it features Lyric L, watch that video and tell me you can't wait to see her live. You saw the Q&A with Euro & World Slam Champ Harry Baker (whom is also featuring) well there will also be a performance from The Albany Young Poets who were the runners up of this summers London Olympic 'Shake The Dust' Slam and 6 Open Mic slots!

Details & Booking info -

Tickets £7
Concession £5

Box Office - 020 8692 4446

Tuesday 20 November 2012

You Lost Two Years

You tell me you lost two years
to the last man you loved.
You say if you write a poem
                   don’t mention me,
mention the night and what
you see in the street.
The parked cars
    and how tires rest with the dirt
   they’ve rolled over, how houses
have locked doors
 and one glowing window.

Mention how sad the sky is
because the person it loves
won’t look at it. Mention a storm
             but don’t give it my name,
say it’s what love does to people,
say there is a man inside the house
next door, he is half naked
with a tattoo across his chest
that says “what doesn’t kill you
makes you stranger”,
say she can't forget the way he kissed her
               in the restaurant smoking areas.

mention a woman 
that was saved by the rain
but don’t give her my name,
say she is a smoker
that survived her own fire
and has not since stood
       under an umbrella.

Monday 12 November 2012

Q&A w/ Kenyan Born Somali Poet Warsan Shire

“I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes; on my face they are still together” - Warsan Shire  
Warsan is a Kenyan born Somali poet based in London. She’s also one of my favourite poets alive and she’s only 23. ‘Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth’ is the name of her first collection of poems.

Q1. Warsan, what’s more beautiful, midnight or midday?

midnight because it is quiet and all black is beautiful.

 Q2. The poet is often perceived as a tormented character, a lot of your poetry explores trauma. When you write are you in a certain mood?

probably crying, but not because i'm tormented or traumatised, but because something finally fell into place. 

Q3. You’ve started working with script writing, how does a poet work on scripts?

I thought film was poetry?

Q4. True, ok, if a love poet, a political poet and a preacher sat in a room together what would they talk about?

loss (my first answer was brittany murphys death, i don't know about everyone else, but personally i still have so many questions.) 

Q5. You’re reading a set of poems at Keats House on Sunday November 18th. What do you think makes a good poetry reading?

Intimacy, safety, relief between poems in the form of inappropriate humour. 

Q6.  So there’s this genre of poetry called ‘Spoken Word Poetry’ which has become quite popular… What’s your take on ‘Spoken Word’ as a form of poetry?

when it's done well, it's so good, so beautiful, that i die a little bit.  when it's bad, i just want to die. but that is true of most things, a bad cup of tea is tragic. a good cup of tea is a small heaven. 

Q7. I was teaching a year 10 class at school last week and I asked the class what they know about poets and a girl blurted the word “poverty!” across the room. What can up and coming poets aspire to apart from poverty?

Well, she had a point, you do aspire to be poor, but also, to be so deeply fulfilled that sometimes, you just sit with your face in your hands, in awe of it all. 

Q8. Finally Warsan, did you tell your mother she has a beautiful daughter?

She said you should come over for Somali tea, Ray.

Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth
DON'T MISS Warsan giving a reading of her poems at the Keats House Open Mic event on Sunday November 18th, 2pm - 4pm. (FREE)

Keats Grove, 
London, Greater London 

Follow Warsan Shire on Twitter - @warsan_shire
Keep updated on her blog 

Thursday 8 November 2012

Q&A With World & National Slam Champion Harry Baker

Harry Baker is odd… he’s a poet even through he was born in the 90’s. Actually he’s more than that, he’s the UK, European and World Slam champion and he’s doing a set at Chill Pill on 29th November at The Albany

When on tour in Germany almost everybody knew Harry Baker, he’s referred to as “the perfect Slam Poet” and I don’t think anyone can disagree. I caught up with him to interrogate this young poetry star. 

Q1. Even though I’ve seen you wear orange tights you’re a pretty cool dude…. how can people adopt the swagger of a young poet? 

Thanks - my edinburgh show this year involved the tights, some tartan trousers and a dressing gown amongst other things... I think if you're trying to be a cool poet you're doing it wrong. I generally go for the shy awkward teenager vibes… it takes years of practice.

Q2. When you and Keith Jarrett (former UK Slam Champion) went back to back at Chill Pill, that was magic and I remember watching that thinking “that’s how you know they’re both Slam Champions… what makes a good Slam Poet? 

 That was a good night - I'm looking forward to the next one! I used to think you made a good slam poet f your poems happened to be around 3 minutes long, but as I've seen more of it there are common themes. Partly you've gotta have something to say. Once you get to a certain level as a spoken word artist/poet/whateveryouwannacallit you can make anything sound nice but with slam here's a definite message behind it, you've only got to look at all the big political American slam poetry to see that. For me it's more about being aware of your audience. Make them laugh, or cry, or shiver, or wet themselves.. Slam works because they have a say, if you've just spent 3 minutes listing everyone you have had or want to have sex with etc (I've seen some weird ones) then quite right they can give you 3 out of 10.
Harry Baker is not rubbish
Q3. You’re like 19 man…. Wtf?

20 now! I love that I've got into it this young. Managed to do a gap year of open mics and saying yes to every gig, i did 12 festivals over the summer and 2 shows a day at the fringe, and I'm currently doing 17 gigs this November (all building up to the fabulous chill pill) so Its not like Im inexperienced, but i guess it means I'm funding it from a student loan rather than arts council grants.. and I'm still doing it because i love it. 

Q4. If your poetry was a wrestler what would it’s special move be?

Beach elbow. (Ray wishes Harry said "The Proper Pop -Up, Purple, Paper People's Elbow)

Q5. Edinburgh Festival had its first official Spoken Word programming; you were at Edinburgh and had great success, you working on a show? 

 I've done two shows in the last two years, both went fantastically, you hear all sorts of horror stories about having audiences of 2 people and losing loads of money but everything fell in place nicely. I think I'm going to have a year off next year - make the most of the 'world champion' title and go back to the states where they care about such things, then by 2014 I'll have potentially had a year in Germany and have something new to say. 

Q6. Wtf! I just tried to tweet you! Did you UNFOLLOW me on twitter? 

Gosh. yes, it was either too profound for my tiny head to comprehend or things that you tweet like this - “That moment in the barbers when you have an itch on your head & the barber runs over the spot with the razor #Bliss” 

Q7. It's true! I thought that was kinda profound... anyway, you’re studying medicine.. or was it maths? either way you’re a bit of a brainiac and you’re being a poet. Don’t your parents think you’re wasting yourself? 

Maths and German. I was going to study medicine but got into poetry so the obvious choice was to switch to math’s. I think my parents were relieved because if you're good at science at school they try force it on you but it wasn't for me. There's 4 people for every place doing medicine so someone far better would've taken my place, but if i don't write poems about dinosaurs and dessert, who will? My parents are incredible. I remember first seeing poets do incredible pieces about how their dad's weren't there for them and thinking my life was too boring to write about in comparison so stuck with prime numbers and bees for a while. But they're fully supportive and have got into it, My dad even quotes kate tempest in the foreward to his latest book! 

Q8. Finally Harry, if it breaks will Jim fix it? 

ummm no? Obama might.

Follow Harry Baker on twitter - @harrybakerpoet
website -

Again, come see Harry alongside Lyric L & The Albany Poets at Chill Pill on 29th November!
We tend to sell out so book advance tickets here

Wednesday 7 November 2012

My Universities by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

dedicated to all students of life.

My Universities

I learned not only from those
who brightly beam out of golden frames,
but from everyone whose ID photo
didn't come out quite right.
More than from Tolstoy
I learned from blind beggars
who sang in train cars about Count Tolstoy.
From barracks
I learned more than from Pasternak
and my verse style was hot 'barracko'.
I took lessons on Yesenin
in snack bars from invalids of war
who tore their striped sailor shirts
after spilling out their plain secrets.
Mayakovsky's stepped verse
didn't give me as much
as the dirty steps of staircases
with handrails polished by kids' pants.
I learned in Zima Junction
from my most untalkative Grannies
not to be afraid of cuts, scratches,
and various other scrapes.
I learned from dead-end streets that smell of cats,
from crooked spattered lanes,
to be sharper than a knife,
more ordinary than a cigarette butt.
Empty lots were my shepherds.
Waiting lines my nursing mothers.
I learned from all the young toughs
who gave me a whipping.
I learned
from pale-faced harried hacks
with fatal content in their verse
and empty content in their pockets.
I learned from all the oddballs in attics,
from the dress cutter Alka
who kissed me
in the dark of a communal kitchen.
I was put together out of the birthmarks of the Motherland
from scratches and scars,
cradles and cemeteries,
hovels and temples.
My first globe was a rag ball,
without foreign threads,
with brick crumbs sticking to it,
and when I forced my way to
the real globe,
I saw-it was also made of scraps
and also subject to blows.
And I cursed the bloody soccer game,
where they play with the planet without refs or rules,
and any tiny scrap of the planet,
which I touched,
I celebrated!
I went round the planet
as if it were a gigantic Zima Station,
and I learned from the wrinkles of old women,
now Vietnamese, now Peruvian.
I learned folk wisdom
taught by the worldwide poor and scum,
the Eskimo's smell for ice,
and the Italian's smiling non-despair.
I learned from Harlem
not to consider poverty poor,
like a Black
whose face is only painted white.
And I understood that the majority bends
its neck on behalf of others,
and in the wrinkles of those necks
the minority hides as if in trenches.
I am branded with the brand of the majority.
I want to be their food and shelter.
I am the name of all without names.
I am a writer for all who don't write.
I am a writer
created by readers,
and readers are created by me.
My debt has been paid.
Here I am
your creator and your creation,
an anthology of you,
a second edition of your lives.
I stand more naked than Adam,
rejecting court tailors,
the embodiment of imperfections-
yours and my own.
I stand on the ruins
of loves I destroyed.
The ashes of friendships and hopes
coldly fly through my fingers.
Choking on muteness
and the last man to get in line,
I would die for any one of you,
because each of you is my homeland.
I am dying from love
and I howl with pain like a wolf.
If I despise you-
I despise myself even more.
I could fail without you.
Help me to be my real self,
not to stoop to pride,
not to fall into heaven.
I am a shopping bag stuffed
with all the world's shoppers.
I am everybody's photographer,
a paparazzo of the infamous.
I am your common portrait,
where so much remains to be painted.
Your faces are my Louvre,
my private Prado.
I am like a video player,
whose cassettes are loaded with you.
I am an attempt at diaries by others
and an attempt at a worldwide newspaper.
You have written yourself
with my tooth-marked pen.
I don't want to teach you.
I want to learn from you. 

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Shots From Raymond Antrobus's Poetry Tour in Germany & Switzerland

I'm back from tour, 12 shows in 12 days. Other than being constantly stopped and searched in Switzerland (for looking suspicious apparently), breaking down on a German 4am highway and missing my flight back to London, it was a great time. Poetry is a big deal in Germany, you win a major Poetry slam and it's covered in the nation papers, audiences come out in their hundreds to watch a Poetry Slam, nowhere in the world is poetry happening like it is out there. Below are some shots taken at some of the venues I performed at across the country. 
The Mic in Freiberg
The Mic in Langani
The Mic in Marberg
The mic in Frankfurt w / Lars Rupple
Setting up pre-show in Herne
Took all those shots arriving early at the venue... when they pack out they look more like this...

250 people in Freiburg

500 people in Cologne
                 I also sold books and CD's after the show... here's some of the happy punters!

man buys Rhyming Thunder Anthology
Man buys my book 'The Coloured Experience'
Man buys 'Autistic Pieces EP'
Here's the picture of the car I was in when heading to the airport and one of the tires randomly exploded as we skidded off the highway. We waited hours for the serviceman. It would be another 14 hours, three trains and a coach until I'd find another airport with planes heading to London.

Special shout out to poets Lars Rupple & Sebastian 23 - the tour could not have been possible or special without you.

Sunday 4 November 2012

November Shows Include Chill Pill at One Taste, Autistic Pieces at Bang Said The Gun, Warsan Shire at Keats House & more...

Paper Tiger Poetry at Tea House Theatre, Vauxhall Walk. November 9th 2012.

Chill Pill Poets (Raymond Antrobus, Mista Gee, Deanna Rodger, Simon Mole & Adam Kammerling) - Are doing a show at the One Taste Festival. Come See Us In Full Force! 11th November 2012.

Autistic Pieces (Raymond Antrobus / Alex Patten) at Bang Said The Gun. The Roebuck, London Bridge. 15th November 2012.

Open Mic event, Keats House Poets Forum is back this month with special guest poet; 
Warsan Shire. 18th November 2012
Warsan Shire
Chill Pill is back at The Albany with multi-slam champion Harry Baker 
& amazing musician, poetess - Lyric L as well as a special performance from Albany Young Poets (Runner's Up of London's Olympic 'Shake The Dust' Slam) 29th November 2012.
(Includes Open Mic)