Bravery Shown at a Special Poetic Insight

There are instances at Young People Insight that truly blow me away and make all the work I put in feel more worthwhile than anything in the world.  This month’s Poetic Insight was one of those.

On November 27th, Poetic Insight came to Urban XChange Bar and Grill for the first time, which I was excited but slightly concerned about.  I was concerned people would go to the wrong venue or get lost.  I was also sick, so I did not want to come out on a cold rainy evening either (I’m just keeping it real), but I am beyond glad I did.

This immediately became one of my favourite ever Poetic Insights, filling me with emotion, pride and wonder.  It made me not only proud to be a young person, but proud of the safe space I have been able to create over the years that incites bravery in young people and encourages them to open up in amazing ways.

The theme of the night was Survival, and returning poet Antonia was first to step onstage, sharing a deep poem about the pain that can come from a romantic relationship and surviving through loving yourself.  Chantae also returned after last month, starting with a poem called Olivia’s Theory, which was in response to a friend, followed by Broken Stopwatch, both brought to life through her beautiful words.

Beverly has been to some of The Kickback sessions, but this was her first time on the Poetic Insight stage.  Despite her nerves, she shared an emotion-fulled poem about pain and vulnerabilities in relationships.

Script Index came to our poetry night for the first time, all the way from West London, to draw us in with his wonderful delivery of True Flow.  Next up was now regular Poetic Insight attendee, but first timer on our stage, Destiny, who shared thought-provoking poems about mental health and an empowering poem about how lit she is.

The following three poets were all extremely brave, raw and openly vulnerable with us on the night, taking to our stage for the first time and wowing all of us.  They were a big part of why this Poetic Insight immediately became one of my favourites.

Emma is the perfect example of why I started Young People Insight.  When I met her on the night, she told me that she wrote poems but was nervous about performing, although she was thinking about it.  She then decided to sign up to perform, but told me she would be going onstage with a friend.  By the time she got onstage, she was willing to stand there on her own and lay herself bare by reading a poem called Mum Break Me The Most.

She was followed by Ingrid, the friend who was supposed to take to the stage with Emma, who also laid herself bare by sharing a deep poem about surviving trauma.  In the poem, she referred to herself as a victim, but I made the point of saying that she is no victim – she is a survivor.

Then it was Adam, who was wrestling with the thought of performing when he got to Poetic Insight as well, telling me that he wanted to perform but was scared.  I encouraged him to think it through, as there is nothing worse than getting onstage when you are half-hearted about it.  In spite of his nerves, he read an amazingly open poem, about consent and sex.

The final poet on stage was the returning Kane Adams (he performed under Adam’s Son last month).  He finished the night not only with some powerful micro poems, but he also provided words of wisdom, which were especially for the “younger” young people in attendance, although I think we all took something from them.  The moments that break away from poetry, while also reaching out to others, are some of my favourites at Poetic Insight.

It was a truly special night, which reminded me of why I set up Young People Insight all over again and why it needs to keep going for the long haul.  I can’t wait to see what more future events will bring.

Poetic Insight will join with The Kickback on December 18th for our final event of the year, when we’ll be ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’.  We’ll be at Urban XChange Bar & Grill ( 1 Lansdowne Rd, Croydon CR9 2BN) from 6.30-9.30pm, so save the date, as you do 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.

Back on Our Black Ish at Poetic Insight

We were back on our Black Ish at Poetic Insight on October 30th, to mark Black History Month.  This was one of my favourite editions of Poetic Insight last year, and this year was no different.  It was a brilliant way to bring Poetic Insight back after the break.

First onstage was the amazing Zhanai, fresh off her performance at Croydon’s first LIP Fest.  She blew us away with her amazing words in a personal poem, called Rest in Peace, and a new poem called Supernova.

Elisha was back on the Poetic Insight stage with another inspirational monologue for us, speaking to us about Cycles and Doubts.

We welcomed Chantae to Poetic Insight for the first time, who first performed a deep poem called Door Handle, followed by a poem written especially for Black History Month, which had everyone clicking in excitement and agreement.

Reii was also on our stage for the first time.  First, she shared a beautiful poem about Maya Angelou, then she broke it down for us with a powerful poem about being a black, Muslim woman.

I’ve seen Adam’s Son perform at a number of poetry nights in Croydon, but this was the first time he performed at Poetic Insight.  He had us all engaged with his rhythmic and powerful spoken word, including a beautifully personal piece about his daughter and the impact she had on his life.

Poetic Insight regular, Mhairi, laid herself bare with a raw and honest poem about her experience with race and family, which I think touched all of us.

Antonia returned to share two powerful poems, starting with A Black Girl’s Epiphany, which fitted right in with our theme, followed by The Tears of an Outspoken Woman.

I performed the final poem of the night, Don’t Box Me In, which is a spoken word piece challenging the perception of what it means to be black.

Thank you to the beautiful Zhanai, Elisha, Chantae, Reii, Adam’s Son, Mhairi and Antonia for sharing on the night, and thank you to all of the beautiful people who came out to watch and support.  An extra special thank you to Darren from Well Versed Ink for acting as our DJ on the night.  I could not do this without any of you.

It was another special and inspiring event, filled with love and I’m already looking forward to this month.  Poetic Insight returns on November 27th from 7-9pm, when the theme will be Survival.  We’ll also be at a new home, so make sure you come along to the Urban XChange Bar & Grill ( 1 Lansdowne Rd, Croydon CR9 2BN) to avoid missing out.  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’s Coming Up This June?

It feels just crazy typing it, but we are already halfway through the year.  Can you believe it?  Halfway through 2018!!  Now that I’ve got that off my chest, it’s time to fill you in on all that we’ve got coming up in June.

This month is looking to be a unique one for YPI with our events being non-traditional and quite specialised.  June’s first event will be part of Croydon’s Festival of Peace programme, so we’re doing things a little differently.

The Kickback will be combining with Poetic Insight, for a night of conversation, poetry and munchies, of course.  We’ll be focusing on the theme of Peace, which I think will result in an interesting conversation.

We’re also opening up the Poetic Insight stage to poets and spoken word artists of all ages for the first time, as the event will have an inter-generational focus rather than the usual focus on young people.  As well as the traditional open mic, we are excited to have three amazing feature poets in AadamSpeaks, Joe Duggan and Sid.

This is going to be beautiful, so save the date of June 19th and be at Project B from 6.30-9.30pm for a night of peace, love and good vibes.  Let us know you’re coming here: bit.ly/thekickbackpoeticinsight-peace

After a great start last month, TCFT Croydon 2018 continues on Sunday June 24th, focusing on the theme of Change.  The creative workshops begin this month, giving participants the opportunity to build on discussions and what they would like to change through creative means.

One of the things that the participants said that they would like to change and decided to focus on is bridging the gap between generations.  With that in mind, I have made the decision to extend the age of participants and invite those over 25 to take part in TCFT Croydon 2018 with us, as the inter-generational element seems to work very well in Croydon.  If you are interested in bridging the gap and getting your creative juices flowing, sign up here: bit.ly/tcftcroydon2018-signup

Our final event in June will be a collaboration with local organisation, I Am More CIC, who focus on addressing the needs of young carers aged 11-21 years old, living in and around London.

The aim of the event is to raise awareness of young carers, as well as create a safe space for young carers to express themselves.  We’ll be watching a short film created as part of I Am More’s ‘Be Seen’ campaign, followed by a relaxed discussion.

Come along to Project B on June 26th from 7-9pm to learn more about I Am More and what they do, show support to young carers and meet some new people.  Sign up for the night here: bit.ly/letstalkaboutyoungcarers

It’s gonna be another exciting month at YPI, which I am very much looking forward to and I hope to see some of your lovely faces.  You know there will be a smile and hug waiting for you.

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.

Another Beautiful Night at Poetic Insight: Mental Health 2018

Wrapping up May’s focus on mental health was Poetic Insight on the 29th.  This was an event I was really looking forward to after last year’s raw, beautiful Poetic Insight: Mental Health, and this year delivered another beautiful night, despite being different to the last one.

Clouds were covering up the shining sun from May 2017 and the night’s line up was smaller than the previous year, but the raw words expressed, emotion conveyed and talent displayed remained the same.

Miss Yankey graced the Poetic Insight stage for the first time at our mental health themed night in 2017, and she was back in 2018 to deliver another powerful performance.  She went in deep as always with a performance of a poem about mental health and domestic violence.

Coming to the Poetic Insight stage for the very first time was Clemmie, who shared a really beautiful poem, filled with wonderful words, about the personal struggles that come with mental issues.

Kris also returned to Poetic Insight, going in with a deep performance of a poem about masculinity, which in itself has ties to mental health.

I began the night by performing a poem entitled Me and Myself, which I wrote especially for the night, about the internal battle attacking my mind.  To end the night, I shared my story of how I had been battling with mental health issues and how I was still battling them, rounding it off with my poem The Beautiful, Brutal Blade, about my struggle with self-harm.

However, what made the night so beautiful for me was watching the different connections forming around the room.  A part of me didn’t even want to start the performances, because I was loving all of the conversations that were happening and relationships starting to develop.  For me, that is the key part of what Young People Insight is all about.  I hope the conversations keep going, the connections strengthen and the relationships continue to grow.

Poetic Insight will be joining with The Kickback when it returns on June 19th for a very special event as part of Croydon’s Festival of Peace.  We’ve got three amazing feature poets, as well as the traditional open mic, so stay tuned for more information.  You are going to love 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’s Coming Up This May?

May is here, the sunshine is back and I’m excited for everything that we’ve got coming up!  This month is going to be a busy one for YPI with lots of great things in the works.  I just need to make sure that I keep up with it all.

First up is The Kickback, when we’ll be talking Mental Health during Mental Health Awareness Week.  The topic of Mental Health led to one of our best conversations in 2017 and I’m looking forward to another great conversation this year.

The Kickback will be hosted by OASIS, a health service for young people aged 14-35, who are experiencing psychological distress.  OASIS’s focus is on Psychosis, which they will be providing a deeper insight into.  Be sure to save the date of May 15th and the time of 6.30-8.30pm.  Register for the event here: bit.ly/letstalkmentalhealth

On the following day, we are joining up with community-led cinema, Screen25, and youth counselling charity, Off The Record, to put on a special event for Mental Health Awareness Week.  We will be screening feature film, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a 2010 hit comedy that confronts preconceptions about mental health and explores the reality of depression through the eyes of a 16-year-old.

As well as the feature film, you will also be treated to a screening of Behind The Locked Door, a short documentary produced by Brent Mind, about mental health in the black community.  And following on from the films will be a panel discussion on mental health, touching on some of the issues raised in the films.

I am really looking forward to this event, which I think is going to be thought-provoking and a lot of fun.  I don’t want any of you to miss it, so get May 16th, 7.45-10pm, in your diary, and don’t forget to buy your tickets: bit.ly/2r0cQC6

Last year, I put on the TCFT Croydon Pilot on a Sunday in August.  This year, TCFT Croydon is going to be bigger and better, taking place on three Sundays spread across three months.  The first of those Sundays will be May 27th at Turf Projects, getting the ball rolling for TCFT Croydon 2018 with a day of fun conversation and creative activities.

The theme for TCFT Croydon 2018 is Change, encouraging young people to think about how they can spark change through art, culminating in the final sharing of the work they create on July 15th.  There are still a small number of spaces remaining for those of you who are 15-25, so if you would like take part in this special creative process, sign up for your free space now: bit.ly/tcftcroydon2018-signup

Our final event in May will be Poetic Insight, continuing the focus on the theme of Mental Health.  Last year’s Mental Health themed Poetic Insight was a raw, beautiful, moving experience, which will definitely go down as one of our most memorable events.  I’m hoping that this will be another one to remember.

We’ll be at Project B on May 29th from 7-9pm, with performances starting at 7.30pm.  If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or send a message to 07910092565, and I’ll add your name to the list.  If you’d prefer to simply engage by sitting in the audience, register for your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-mentalhealth

I genuinely cannot wait for all of these events and I cannot wait to see your beautiful faces at some of them.  I’ll be waiting with a big smile and a hug.

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.

Poetry Meets Conversation at Poetic Insight

We continued this month’s focus on violence at Poetic Insight on April 24th, which brought together powerful poetry with more compelling conversation.

Mahmoud returned to the Poetic Insight stage, again sharing poetry he wrote after getting inspired on the night.  He dropped some strong, thought-provoking lines with his own style.

Paul Point graced our stage for the first time, leaving us in awe through his powerful delivery and masterful wordplay, taking us through stories in poetic form.

We were also joined by Sarah Jones MP, who spoke about the work she does and engaged in a conversation with us about youth violence.  One of the initial things she touched on was the barriers between young people and the police, with a lot still needing to be done to break these barriers down.

Sarah asked us about what we could possibly do or what we think could be done to address the issue of youth violence.  Renee expressed that people want to be involved in the community, but sometimes they don’t know how.  However, she did share some ways that members of the community could get involved, particularly through an initiative she is developing as part of her organisation, Croydon Community Leaders.

Mahmoud asked, “How will young people like me have a voice?”  Sarah was adamant that young people need to be part of every decision that is made when decisions are being made about young people, referencing panels that take place to discuss young people, but have no young people on the panel.

A number of interesting points were made regarding prisons – “Some young people spoke about how prison was a break for them,” said Sarah – how we interact with young people, the services available to them and how we make information about those services available, as well as some of the root causes – “There are connectors that are much more important than the colour of your skin,” said Sarah.

To end, I shared a poem I wrote especially for the night, comparing the violence in our city to a war zone.  However, I want to leave you with Sarah’s words, “This is the start of tackling a problem that is at a record high.”

Poetic Insight is back on May 29th  when the theme will be ‘Mental Health’.  Last year was really special, so save the date because you will not want to miss it.  We’ll be at Project B of our usual time of 7-9pm.  If you would like to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or get in contact through social media.

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’s Coming Up This April?

Clocks have gone forward and more sun has been in the sky, which hopefully means that spring will finally arrive this month.  There’s also a lot coming up for YP Insight in April that I am very much looking forward to.

As part of Matthews Yard’s 6th birthday celebrations on April 21st, there will be a Poetic Insight segment from 8.45-9.15pm, which will be a special event to be part of.  There is an opportunity for some of the poets and spoken word artists who have performed at Poetic Insight in the past to share their poetry on the night, so please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com if you would like to be part of it.

On April 22nd, we are collaborating with Poetry Prescribed to put on a free poetry workshop, for 16-26 year olds in Croydon, on the subject on mental health.  From 1.30-4.30pm, young people will take part in a  thought-provoking session of reading, speaking, creating and sharing poetry.  You don’t need to be a poet to join, just come with an open mind.  Spaces are very limited, so register now to avoid missing out: bit.ly/letsdiscussmentalhealth

The focus of YP Insight this month will be violence, which could not have come at a more relevant time.  The spate of violent attacks and killings in London so far this year has been crazy and like nothing I have never seen reported before.  The use guns and knives seems to be more prevalent, raising more and more questions with limited answers coming to the fore.

This is why the conversation on ‘Youth Violence’ at The Kickback will be of the utmost importance.  The Kickback is not only about focusing on topics that matter to young people, but also trying to come up with solutions to create a better society for us to live in.

The event will be hosted by Jamal Khan, as it was his chosen topic of conversation, on April 17th from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B.  This is not to be missed, so if you want to have your say on something that involves all of us and be part of making change happen, register here: bit.ly/letstalkaboutyouthviolence

‘Violence’ will be the theme for Poetic Insight the following week, giving us the opportunity to speak our minds and shine a light on the issue in a creative form.  I believe that this is going to be incredibly powerful and another unmissable event, especially as we are going to be joined by local youth organisation, Music Relief.

Save the date of April 24th and remember be at Project B between 7-9pm – performances start at 7.30pm.  If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email youngpeopleinsight@gmail.com or send a message to 07910092565, and I’ll add your name to the list.  If you’d prefer to simply engage by sitting in the audience, register for your free tickets here: bit.ly/poeticinsight-violence

It was great to be back at the YP Insight events last month and I am looking forward to seeing you throughout April.  Please do make the most of the opportunities available, stay safe and most of all, show love and respect to each other.

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.