Last Wednesday (20th) I went out for a morning on the canal in Birmingham as part of an event organised by Beatfreeks and Aysha Begum (OXJAM Slam Poet winner). The plan is to roll out monthly evening events with poetry that bring different generations together. The whole concept of the event was Aysha Begum’s and Jaden Larker and Matt Windle were particularly excited to see the idea come to fruition, having both been around at the conception.
I didn’t know what to expect other than my ticket included a 3 hour canal journey, workshop, poetry, a chance of performing and free tea/coffee and cakes. A perfect morning if you ask me. I love getting involved with performance and projects that are a little outside the box of a café or pub open mic, events outside that remit challenge you with new experiences and you get to see how your work/ writing can work on different levels.
I managed to get to the meeting point and was happy to see some familiar faces, including Beatfreek poets, Matt Windle, Jordan Ashley Ann Garvey and Jasmine Gardosi. We all boarded the boat and were greeted with a story from Jaden Larker (Seasick Fist), a Beatfreek poet. He then encouraged us to use the workshop time to mingle with people we didn’t know and the older people. Many people moved seats and as Matt, Jordan and I had sat near the top end by the time we were able to get up to move – there was nowhere to move to. Part of me felt guilty about not taking this opportunity to share stories with the older generation. I think I became the older generation for Jordan and Matt.
It was great though because Jordan and I hardly knew each other and although I have seen Matt perform often and he always has time for a chat, there is still limited time and topics at a poetry event – whereas on this boat we were being encouraged to raid our own past for stories.
The ticket cost covered refreshments and during this part of the voyage the team waited sandwiches, wraps, samosas and other nibbles to each table. We had tea and coffee from the bar (alcohol was available) and thoroughly enjoyed a good natter.
Later on we were treated to performances by Aysha Begum and Amerah Saleh – both poets I have seen in action at various events, both are Beatfreeks and both did well to raise their voices over the engine of the canal boat.
Then after some more cake and nibbles the Open Mic started – I bet we were all glad of the organisational decision to split the boat/ audience in half as the engine was still hard to hear over.
I enjoyed being exposed to poetry from poets who had joined the academy a week beforehand, there were performers I hadn’t seen before and some I had. It was great fun joining in. There was also time after the performances before the poets swapped over for a quick Q & A …. it is all too easy to forget how magical our world is to people who don’t write.
It was a fantastic event – if you are local enough to the Midlands, UK – look out for more of these!