Relationships Formed at Poetic Insight

Relationships was the theme for Poetic Insight on November 28th, aptly following on from the topic of Online Dating at The Kickback a week before.  However, I wanted to emphasise that relationships are more than just romance, which let to a great mixture of poems on different types of relationships.

As you probably know by now, we love welcoming new performers to the Poetic Insight stage and this month was no different, with three individuals coming to the stage for the first time.  Diego was the first person to take to the stage, sharing a really sweet poem based on that elusive phrase, “I miss you.”  On the other hand, Kris closed out the show with a fire piece of spoken word about his relationship with London.

Newcomer, Chantelle, used poetical language to give us a very honest insight into a relationship she had with another poet.  Considering it was her first time at Poetic Insight, it was amazing at how open and honest she was with us.  Mahmoud was also incredibly open with us,  as we welcomed him back for the second time,  sharing a poem about a romantic relationship he had engaged in relatively recently.

Completing the line up for the night were what I would now call Poetic Insight veterans.  Rhianna graced the stage twice, first letting us know that she would always be there and then she got into a situation that a lot of us girls have experienced with guys who are not interested in relationships, but just casual hook ups.

Alana took to the stage twice as well, with two pieces of spoken word that focused on relationships that are often bypassed.  Her initial poem focused on developing the relationship she has with herself and the second one touched on our relationships with each other, as she urged us to integrate and show love to one another.

Annotate only came on stage once, but he shared two moving poems about family relationships.  The first was a beautiful poem about an estranged sister he misses, which he followed up with ‘Gratitude’, a really special poem about his younger brother who has autism and Down’s Syndrome.

We also had Kat from the production company, Electric Ray, present on the night.  Kat took the Poetic Insight stage towards the beginning to tell us about a project she is working on, which is all about estranged family relationships and possibly rebuilding those connections.  If you are interested in learning more, please email kat.airy@electricray.com

It was a really enjoyable night filled with talent and amazing people in the room, which I am continuing to forge and develop relationships with, and I can’t wait to carry these relationships forward.

Poetic Insight will combine with The Kickback on December 19th for our final event of 2017.  We’ll be ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’ as I continue to develop Young People Insight going into its second year.  However, there is no theme for the poetry, so you can speak out on whatever you want, but you need to get in touch with me ASAP if you would like to perform, because performance slots are limited.  Email me at shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk or send a message to 07910092565 to let me know.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

What are your thoughts on online dating?

Online Dating was the topic of conversation at The Kickback on November 21st, chosen by regular participant Stephen, who also took the lead this month.  His experience with online dating and desire to talk about it made him the ideal individual to start off and navigate the conversation, making the night a lot of fun.

Stephen got the conversation warmed up by telling us a little bit about why he started online dating.  If you didn’t know, Stephen is American, and he said that coming from a different country to the UK “with no social circle, I found it hard meeting people.”

After explaining to us why he began using online dating, he asked if we had ever used something that is specifically designed for us to find a partner.  Most said yes, with some having used most of the online dating websites and apps out there, while a couple of us said no.

There seemed to have been a mixture of experiences when using the apps or websites, with some saying that it wasn’t the best experience and others saying that it had been okay.  Thuy believes that there’s some bad ones, but “generally it’s positive.  You get to meet cool people you never would have met.”

Stephen shared one of his negative online dating experiences with us, which was a story he can laugh about now, but at the time wasn’t funny – “With online dating, it can be a bad experience or a good experience,” he said.

We later spoken about whether we see online dating effecting how we meet people in 10 years time.  It seemed that a lot of us were unsure and thought that social media would probably have a greater effect on dating.  Chris thought that Tinder might become quite corny for the younger generation and Stephen thinks that “even now, it’s starting to become a joke.”  Thuy also added, “I don’t like this whole thing of messaging for ages and not arranging to meet up.  Like, I don’t want a pen pal.”

For those of us who don’t use online dating, Stephen asked why that was.  I said that it’s not really my thing and I prefer to do things in a relatively old-fashioned way.  Alana said that she’s a 1950s vibe kind of girl and she would like for man to ask her out on a date.  She also finds online dating quite threatening, because of catfishes and some people who only want one-night stands.

We then went on to have an interesting discussion on how we felt about girls approaching guys, attraction and guys with topless photos on their dating profiles.  It seems that our interest in guys with topless photos would depend on how we were feeling at the time and what their bio may be saying, but we all agreed that we don’t feel when guys are taking themselves too seriously in their topless photos.

Speaking about looks led on to whether believe in preferences.  Gus gave a strong, assured yes when answering, while Rhianna also agreed.  However, Rhianna later added, “I don’t feel like anyone has a set preference.  They know what they don’t like.”  Gus responded to that point with, “If they know what they don’t like, they must know what they do like… Certain boxes may be ticked.”

Stephen made the point, “What we’re all dating for, I’m hoping, is a long-term relationship.”  For Chris, he said that he’s always upfront with what he wants from the outset, as “there’s so much more to relationships that so many people don’t talk about.”

The final question Stephen asked us was, do you think online dating has made people force things?  Is there added pressure?  Gus would say social media as a whole is adding pressure – “It’s all intertwined.  It’s a double-edged sword.”  Thuy thinks that you’ve got to put a lot of effort into it and that getting the balance right on the profile is tricky.

Chris made a thought-provoking point about everything “converging into that Instagram world.”  He believes that there will eventually be a service to create the perfect profile and photo for online dating.  “It’s anxiety inducting as well, like all social media,” he also added.

We also got onto a very interesting discussion about online dating bios, questioning whether it is important to have a bio or not, and perceptions others may have on you based on that.  Does no bio mean you’re not trying or do you simply want people to ask you questions organically, rather than focusing on what is already in your bio?  Also, is all that in a person’s bio necessarily true – “Everything is a half-truth,” said Alana.

As we spoke more about personality, characteristics and physicality, we came back to simply being humans.  Alana said, “Every human is on their own path and makes their own mistakes.  Some paths are longer than others.”

This was later followed by a statement from Chris, which was a great way of summing up all that we had been talking about on the night:  “You’ve got to be empathetic to the other gender.”

The Kickback will join forces with Poetic Insight on December 19th for our final event of the year, when we’ll be ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’.  This is a chance for you to make known what you’ve enjoyed about YP Insight this year and what improvements you’d like to see made for next year.  Make sure you save the date, because you will not want to miss it.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

What does culture mean to you?

Culture.  A word that has the ability to instantly spark discussions and create waves.  This is how I knew that The Kickback on October 24th was set to be a brilliant one and it did not disappoint – this was definitely one of our best conversations yet.

The conversation was led by Paul Macey, a man of mixed race who grew up in Burnley and was adopted by a white family.   He started off the night by sharing his own cultural experience growing up – “I started off by being identified as half-caste and coloured.  Then it was mixed race.  Then it was dual identity.”  Paul emphasised that culture is something that we can too easily get fixed on and that it should be quite fluid – “Black is not one thing, it is many things.  Asian is not one thing.”

Paul then opened up the conversation for everyone else to get involved, asking what we feel the difference is between generations.  Jenniah was the first to speak, telling us that he thinks you’ll see an imposition of what black culture really is through the media.  Tegan spoke next, saying “I think it would be important for us to define what culture is… You [Paul] said something really interesting about culture being fluid.”

For Alana, talking about culture is not about race.  “I see people based on the character of their soul… Culture is more spiritual,” she explained to us.  When it came to Gus he said, “One thing I’d say about culture is it’s very hard to define,” as he thinks that things are always being tampered with and taken to different places.  However, Susan thinks that culture is finding your own true self.

Picking up on a point Gus made about cultural appropriation, Tegan expressed that “there’s a difference between appreciation and appropriation.”  She referred to cultural appropriation as a nuance and gave the example of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus using black women as props in their music videos.

Paul later gave us food for thought, saying, “It’s interesting how much culture can flourish in the face of discrimination” and “Sometimes culture is silenced.”

As we spoke more about the perception of culture or blackness, Andrae raised the question, “What does black sound like?”  He also provided an answer to his own question, saying, “I think we have to adopt to society” and that it seems like slang is more associated with black people.

The conversation later shifted to what it’s like being black British.  Susan thinks that it can be really difficult for black-British people and African-Americans to find out who you are, as you can go to school and be at home, and have to be different people.  I shared that although I may see myself as British, I do not see myself as European and refer to myself as West Indian.  However, Tegan does not even see herself as British, but rather as a Londoner.

As we spoke more about identity, Boy Nash strongly expressed, “We live in a society and in a system that does not work.”  He told us that it’s up to you to find your strength, define your standards and define your truth, as “we all have our own truth.”

Boy Nash also believes “culture has divided us to some extent” and he thinks that “maybe we should help push each other’s culture and respect each other’s culture.”  Alana thinks that most of the problems we see would be solved if there was less segregation and more love.  Jenniah also made a very interesting point in regards to love: “Being kind and loving is a  powerful tool.  Weakness comes when we don’t combine love and knowledge with the game.”

Paul later asked us how we felt about Black History Month and if we think it helps the conversation.  Tegan thinks that Black History Month could be important for non-black people, while Jenniah thinks it gives time for reflection and that we need to shape the discussion.  Tamar said, “I don’t feel like it added any value to who my identity is… [but] we have to start teaching our children and our youth about their history from a very early age.”

Gus feels Black History Month is a double-edged sword, and Hakeem does not think that it has helped the cause – “I feel like we’re settling.”  Susan believes that it depends on how you perceive Black History Month, seeing it as “us organising events together”

However, Jenniah said, “The dangerous thing is that it dissociates us from general history.  We start to see ourselves as bubble-wrapped and disenfranchised from knowledge.”  Boy Nash also counteracted this point by saying, “We have to play the game here.  The system is cooked.  We have to use that one month wisely.”

To finish up the conversation, Paul asked us to share a positive word on culture that could empower and inspire others.  I’m going to end on some of those gems, which I hope will inspire all of you:

  • “Pressure makes diamonds.” – Gus
  • Be proud of who you are everyday.  Don’t just wait until October.  Everyone’s unique.  Just find the uniqueness within yourself. – Mac
  • “I’m not here to fit into your world.  I’m here to build mine.” – Alana
  • “You’re powerful.” – Jenniah
  • “Knowledge isn’t power.  Applied knowledge is power.” – Boy Nash
  • Know thyself and love thyself.  It’s only through self-love that we’ll heal our people. – Tamar

The Kickback will return on November 21st when we’ll be talking Online Dating, which I’m sure will be an incredibly different but also interesting conversation.  I’m looking forward to it already.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

Guest Post: Insight into Culture Through Spoken Word

We’ll be talking culture next Tuesday at The Kickback, so in the lead up to our conversation, I wanted to have another voice outside of mine to have their say on culture.  Usaama Minhas has performed a number of spoken word pieces and related to culture.  Below is a selection of some of those pieces with his own commentary to tie them all together.

“You Don’t Always Have To Know Your Favourite Colour” offers an amusing insight into pursuing the Arts as a young person that comes from an immigrant background, where a career in theatre, music, poetry, photography and other mediums is not always encouraged.

 

Departing from that introspection, in “Renaissance”, Usaama tackles the culture of Hip Hop and the art of Emceein’, drawing parallels at many points between moments of turmoil in his personal life with his analysis of the game and the industry.

 

“What I Am Not” demolishes various minority stereotypes in a post-Brexit, post-Trump, increasingly Islamophobic and racist world. The poem offers humour, insight and hard-hitting truths.

 

On the other hand, in his first song release in four years, in “Why” Usaama departs from humour, conjecture, absurd lyricism, and speaks his mind in the most simple words and melodies, reflecting on Islamophobia, racism and police brutality.

And the new name is…

As you probably know, one of the key changes I have wanted to make to Young People Insight is the name of the YP Insight Forums.

I think that the term forum can come across as quite formal to some young people, which is not the impression I want you to have – these are relaxed, informal conversations giving you the chance to speak your mind.  I also get a little confused when I see the term forum myself, as it can mean a number of different things or take various forms, so it is definitely time for a change.

After asking for your name suggestions, I shortlisted four of my favourites, which I also believed would have an impact when marketing these events.  The four I chose were:

  • Woke Nights
  • The Kickback
  • The Chat Room
  • Free Your Mind

Once I’d made my choices, it was of the utmost importance that the final decision be made by you, so I started a Twitter poll that would give you the chance to vote for your favourites over the course of a week.

It was interesting to watch the changing trends, with Woke Nights starting out in front before Free Your Mind crept up to take the lead, which then had to fight it out with The Kickback.  Weirdly enough tough, Woke Nights finished with the lowest votes, even behind The Chat Room, which never led once.

However, I am happy to announce The Kickback as the winner, which will be the newest addition to our repertoire of names that of course includes Poetic Insight, Come Out to Play and Get Together.

Thank you to everyone who suggested names and also to everyone who voted – it would also be great to know whoever it was who suggested The Kickback in the first place, so send us a DM or email shaniquab29@yahoo.co.uk

Now all there is to say is see you at The Kickback on October 24th when we’ll be talking all about Culture.  I for one can’t wait.

What’s Coming Up in October

I want to start off by saying ‘Happy Black History Month’ to all of you and I hope you’ve been enjoying the beginning of Autumn.  After taking time out and enjoying some much-needed reflection time, which you can read a little about here, I’m back and ready to go with more Young People Insight activities.

October is shaping up to be a busy month for me personally, with the start of a protest poetry course at the Roundhouse, getting involved in a knife crime campaign with Croydon Council and also a projection project for the festive season, alongside some of the amazing poets from Poetic Insight.

I’m also humbled and excited to have been selected as a finalist in the 2017 Mayor of Croydon Civic Awards in the category of Young Achiever of the Year.  The awards ceremony will take place on October 17th when the winners will be announced, so I’ll keep you updated on how I do.

Of course, the regular YP Insight events are coming up too, which you definitely will not want to miss out on.  The Civic Awards ceremony falling on the 17th has meant that I’ve pushed back our conversation about culture to October 24th, so make a note of the change in your diaries.

The topic of Culture – when we’ll be joined by a guest speaker – is set to be an incredibly interesting one and I’m sure that it will be a conversation that will take a number of twists and turn.  As you can see on the flyer above, the name for our forums is still a mystery, because I want the final choice to be yours.

Please take a second to choose your favourite name by answering our Twitter poll or let me know your choice on the comment section below.  I want this to be a collective decision, so your vote is essential.

The name may be different, but the time and location will be the same, so join us on October 24th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B when we’ll be talking all about Culture.  You can register for the event here: http://bit.ly/letstalkaboutculture

Poetic Insight returns too and I cannot wait!  Since it is Black History Month, the theme for the night will be Black-Ish, so if you’re a young poet or spoken word artist, get ready to make a statement and speak out on any ‘ish’ related to being black.  If you want to perform, send a message to 07910092565 or get in touch with us on social media.

We’re at the usual location of Project B from 7-9pm, so make a note and don’t miss it.  It is gonna be a beautiful, powerful night.  Register for your free tickets here: http://bit.ly/poeticinsight-black-ish

As you can probably tell, I’m excited to be back and immersing myself in everything that is coming up.  I’m looking forward to connecting with all of the familiar faces and new faces too, because you are at the centre of all I do and you make it worthwhile.  See you soon.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.

What influence does music have?

We sat down in Project B on July 18th to talk all about the influence of music, which was a conversation that took off into numerous directions that I was never expecting.  Nevertheless, it made the night incredibly interesting.

To get everyone warmed up, I asked them to share what music means to them.  Responses included:

  • “An inspiration.”  You can be inspired by the career of others in music. – Andrae
  • “Music is parallel universes.  I can see other versions of myself in music.” – Alana
  • “Music is my pain, and then my happiness.”  All the bad from the past influences the happiness that I have.” – Unorthodox
  • “Music is a lot.” – Hakeem
  • “The point where you can appreciate music and you’re in the zone.  Music can take you to a happy place and a sad place.” – Pekz

Pekz also added a personal anecdote to his explanation, telling us that he’s been doing music for a very long time – “Music’s like that one woman I keep going back to.”

Pekz later delved right into the influence of music, saying that “there are people that influence it in the wrong way” and that music influences our younger generation.  He also expressed that music has a lot of power in decisions that we make in life, but as human beings we have some common sense to recognise the good from the bad.

Unorthodox backed up this point, saying, “The music is the problem…There’s people under 16 doing things they’ve seen in the videos and heard in the songs.”

I then posed the question, what effects have music had on you?  Hakeem said that music helps him when he’s stressed out, and Alana told us that the music she listens to that relaxes her is Disney and Barbie – “I feel I can jump into them and in a different world.”

Pekz made the point that a lot of music is for the female base – “I can go to a bashment rave and see 70% females.”  He also added, “Women support music more than mandem” and that women buy into music more.

Women would be a recurring theme during our conversation, as we spent time speaking about interacting and dancing with women in clubs.  We also spoke about general interactions between males and females – “Everything that’s good looking is not always the good thing,” said Pekz.

As you know, we love individuals sharing their stories and personal experiences at YPI.  One of the most special moments of the night was Pekz and Unorthodox sharing how music was the base of their friendship.  “Music can bring people together,” said Pekz.

I later asked: What are your thoughts on the link between music and misogyny towards women?  Andrae thinks that music’s behind it, while Unorthodox told us, “This is why I respect old music, because they were bigging up women.”

Pekz went a little deeper, using another personal experience – “I said something in one of my songs, because a lot of women are referring to themselves in that way.”  He later added that “a lot of women today are idolising 67.”

This also led on to us talking about the differences between hip hop, rap and grime, as well as how hip hop has changed over the years.  “Back in the day, people had something to say,” expressed Andrae.

My final question of the night was, what would you say to someone who is living out negative stereotypes that stem from music?

  • “I’m doing it now through my music.” – Unorthodox
  • “We can still appreciate music without listening to all the negative stuff.  You shouldn’t be afraid to hear new stuff.” – Pekz
  • “Explore many different types of lyrics… Research into what you listen to and don’t just listen to it.” – Alana

I’ll leave you with a final point from Pekz, who said, “Everything is a live and learn situation… Music can influence you to do positive things, because it depends on the types of lyrics.”

Our next forum won’t be until October, as we’re bringing The Complete Freedom of Truth to Croydon on August 20th and in September we’re taking a well-earned break.  You can ‘Get Together’ with us at our next social event on August 6th, but for now, save the date of October 17th when we’ll be talking Culture.

Stay updated with Young People Insight by following @YPInsight on Twitter, following @youngpeopleinsight on Instagram, liking Young People Insight on Facebook and subscribing to the Young People Insight YouTube channel.