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.

Pure Fire from Young Talent at Poetic Insight

There was a double dose of Poetic Insight in July, as our regular monthly night took place on July 31st after coming to Thornton Heath Arts Week (THAW) for the first time two weeks prior.

I love poetry, so it was great to have two poetry events to see out Young People Insight’s activities before going on my extended break.  And boy, did we see out our events with a bang.  I fully mean it when I say that if you were not there, you missed out.  It was pure fire.

Returning to the Poetic Insight stage for the second time that month – following his THAW debut – was Elisha with his usual words of wisdom, encouraging us to connect with people.

Like Elisha, Antonia debuted for us at THAW and had us up in our feelings again by sharing a beautiful poem dedicated to her late cousin.  Antonia displayed incredibly bravery, as her cousin only passed away during the weekend and she managed to get through the piece without crying.

Veteran, Aaron, encouraged us all to never give up, utilising his wonderful way with words to inspire us all.  Second time performer, Emma, continued to display bravery and honesty as she gave us a greater insight into who she is with a gorgeously deep poem.

Aaron James took to the Poetic Insight stage for the first time and brought fire with a real, raw messages that made us all think.  Ada was real and raw as well, delivering a strong poem about knife crime.

We were happy to welcome Kris back to our stage, who had us all engaged and clicking away with his bars on the mic.  It was amazing to watch him bring a two-way conversation to life through spoken word.

The night then elevated to an even higher level when Annotate blew us all away, and branded me speechless, with a powerful new poem that told a hard-hitting story.  Mhairi then brought us to tears with a poem dedicated to fellow member of the YP Insight family, Samirah, who also sat crying in the audience – that is friendship goals right there.

Then Woodzy came and brought down the house with his spoken word poem, 90s Baby, which got everyone clicking and shouting out in excitement.  The level of nostalgia was unbelievable, and coupled with his amazing delivery, made it one of my favourite moments ever.

Although I didn’t intend to perform, I shared the final poems of the night – I was encouraged by everyone in the audience, because it was my last event in a while.  First, I  shared a poem about three treasured family members who died in the past two years, as it is my goal to get to Heaven and part of the reason is to see them again.  Then I shared a short poem about my transition from darkness to light.

I want to say a huge thank you to the beauties who performed on the night, and all the beauties who came out to support.  I could not do any of this without any of you and it is truly a pleasure to know you amazing people.

As I mentioned earlier, I am going on an extended break to take time to heal, so Poetic Insight will not be back until October.  This is also going to be the last post until October, but please look back on our past posts and get some great insights into what young people are saying and thinking.

If you would like to stay in contact, meet up on a social level, or get updated on when we’re coming back, email or follow @ShanqMarie on Twitter and DM me, as the YP Insight social media will be inactive as well.  See you beautiful people in October.

Poetic Insight Comes to Thornton Heath Arts Week

Poetic Insight came to Thornton Heath for the first time on July 17th, as part of Thornton Heath Arts Week.  I was really excited for this event, not only because Poetic Insight was branching out, but because it was coming to the place I call home.  I can proudly say that I am born, raised and currently reside in Thornton Heath, so finally putting on an event there meant a lot to me.

What made it even better was being able to host Poetic Insight in Thornton Heath Library, a place that is an important part of my childhood.  I remember attending the Book Trails during the summer, constantly trawling the shelves for new books to read, and making my way through The Baby-Sitters Club series and anything by Enid Blyton or Jacqueline Wilson.  The library was one of my favourite locations and gave me nothing but positive memories.

A library is also directly linked to the literary world, making it an ideal location for a poetry event in my mind, which is why I wanted Poetic Insight to be there.  We were fortunate enough to have the event in a beautiful circular area, filled with light and surrounded by art from Age UK’s Art Club exhibition.  I could not have asked for anything better.

However, it did get a whole lot better with the sharing of poetry from amazing young talent.  Every time I listen to the poets and spoken word artists at Poetic Insight, I am filled with immense pride.

First up was Mhairi, a treasured part of the YPI family who was performing at Poetic Insight for the first time.  She got deep with us by sharing a poem about getting through mental health struggles and breaking her leg, followed by a poem about a guy.

Elisha and Jessica were also taking to the Poetic Insight stage for the first time.  Elisha schooled us all with messages of wisdom and encouragement, while Jessica shared a part of herself with us through her poem Focus, which was about her depression.

Poetic Insight veteran, Sid, performed his veteran poems Terrorist and Prayer for the Oppressed, resulting in everyone clicking away.  First time performer, Emma, amazed us all with her raw and honest poem about living with anxiety.

Antonia took a big step sharing her poetry with others for the first time, letting us know how she learned to love herself through her poem Quiet Beauty, before getting us all in our feelings with a poem dedicated to her mum.

Woodzy returned after his Poetic Insight debut last month, making us all laugh with his bars for days by performing Happy Place.  Ellie followed, taking to our stage for the first time to remind us of how precious time is.

Poetic Insight veterans Aaron and Annotate were up next.  Aaron made us all think by first focusing on fear, performing A Conversation with Fear, then by performing Six Feet Deep, which was a poem about someone whose gift is buried six feet deep.  Annotate brought his usual fire, giving us powerful performances of Anomaly and Writers Block, a crowd favourite.

I was last to perform on the night, letting everyone know how much I hate injustice with my poem, Words Cannot Express, and shining a light on some of the prejudices towards women in basketball through the performance of Sexualized Floor General.

The beautiful venue, inspiring poets and engaged audience made it a perfect event and my joint favourite Poetic Insight ever.  I hope that more community events like this can take place in libraries and that Poetic Insight will be back at Thornton Heath Arts Week next year, because I loved it.

Poetic Insight will be back again this month at our regular home of Project B, at the regular time of 7-9pm.  The theme will be Dreams & Goals, so if you’re a young poet or spoken word artists wanting to share, email or get in touch 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.

Guest Post: In The End

Continuing with this month’s focus on Mental Health, we have a poem from Kennedy Coombs,  a Weymouth-based rapper and poet.

How can I cope with this devil on my shoulder,
The heat is on but its making me colder,
When I was younger it hoped I’d grow older,
Started off small now it’s heavier than a boulder,

You say I’m fine, well I’m sick in the head,
You say I‘ll cope, well I’m sick of this mess,
I dunno how long I can stick with this stress,
If it was my way then I would’ve writ this in red,

I’m gonna have to break before people will notice,
That I was suicidal when I actually wrote this,
I’m waiting for the day, my depression I own it,
So I’m not worried about who’s got the most hits,

Cause on my worst days I struggle with reality,
Insane methods just hoping to find my clarity,
My heads in the clouds, yeah I’m defying gravity,
But when I fall, i know I‘ll be falling rapidly,

Yet it doesn’t matter because I am still smiling,
What about the day where it’s my body you’re finding,
I was up in the clouds, there’s no silver lining,
No one hears my pain, but they notice the rhyming,

I know my day will come when it’s the right timing,
But my life’s a tidal wave that I’m still riding,
There’s so much I’m continuously hiding,
Screaming out for help but it’s like I’m miming,

It’s not like I am obsessed with death and dying,
I’m just sick to death of constantly trying,
Spending my nights alone and crying,
I know I look fine I’ve gotten good at lying,

My life is a ring and I am always fighting,
My life is a song I am continuously writing,
Sinking to the bottom, but the top is in my sighting,
It’s like my life is bait and i am always biting,

It doesn’t matter what I do nothing is right,
So why survive just to eventually die,
Where are my wings? I just wanna fly,
Why stay sober when life’s easier if you’re high,

Years of rejection is the reason why I’m so numb,
Always staring down the barrel of my own gun,
In my mums womb my loneliness begun,
Now I don’t recognise the man that I’ve become,

How can I be myself when I dunno who I am,
I can’t make sense of something I don’t understand,
My life’s a battle and I’ve never had the upper hand,
With every love story there’s always another man,

Falling apart my nightmares are repeating,
I’ve had enough of constantly competing,
This is one story I’m gonna be completing,
Any more heart ache I won’t be receiving,

Now as a young man, I’m still suffering daily,
I ask for help but no one wants to save me,
I just want one day where I can be ache free,
If not, then God is gonna have to take me,

This life I’m living is starting to break me,
A danger to myself I’m concerned for my safety,
I’m tryna find a way out, I’m tryna do it safely,
You can’t let me live like this, no one can make me,

I am the monster that society created,
I’m feeling so numb it’s like I’m sedated,
The one full of energy has slowly deflated,
A song that most can probably feel related,

They call it life cause it’s a life sentence,
Living a life to exit, why make an entrance,
Making it seem peaceful, Hell they forgot to mention,
Even as a yout I was constantly in detention.

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 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.

First Timers Take Over Poetic Insight Stage

It was all about the first timers at Poetic Insight on March 27th, as most of the poets on the night were either taking to our stage for the first time or sharing their poems with an audience for the very first time.  This made me extremely happy, as I love welcoming new talent to our stage and expanding the YP Insight family.

The theme for the night was ‘Existence’, combined with ‘Love & Hate’, following last month’s cancellation.  Not everyone followed the theme, but it was fine with me, as it was a beautiful night nonetheless.

After I shared one of my poems about my first love (writing for those of you who may be wondering), Renwhar was the first poet of the night.  Coming to Poetic Insight for the first time, he shared the poems, ‘A Coin’, which really made us think, and ‘Fire’, inspired by Kurdish New Year.

Friends Tide and Chloe were also at Poetic Insight for the first time.  Tide read her poem about mental, ‘Ebbs and Flow’, while Chloe finished the first half by reading her poem ‘Clean Slate’, which was about her break up from a four-year relationship.

Tide and Chloe’s friend Rahi kicked off the second half, sharing his poetry for the first time ever in front of an audience, and shooting at our heart-strings with a beautiful love poem.  He was followed by Amraj, another poet sharing his work with an audience for the first time.  Amraj also shared some beautiful words, encouraging us to renew our faith and love ourselves.

Jadi-Ann returned to share ‘Pure and Flawed, Just Like You’, which was an interesting and very real poem about relationships and the similarities in each one of us.

AdamSpeaks, who got political with his spoken word poem, ‘Justice’, and also highlighted how amazing women were in ‘Empowerment’.  The final poet of the night, ‘Annotate’, also got political with his final performance of ‘Zainab’, inspired by seven year-old Zainab Ansari who was raped and murdered in Pakistan.

A  big thank you goes out to Renwhar, Tide, Chloe, Rahi, Amraj, Jadi-Ann, AdamSpeaks and Annotate for sharing their poetry on the night – I could not do it without you.  Also, a big thank you to everyone who came out to support.  I appreciate you all.

Poetic Insight is back on April 24th when the theme will be ‘Violence’.  You will definitely not want to miss it, so be sure to save the date and come to Project B from 7-9pm.  If you would like to perform, please email 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 February?

We’re now in the month when many people think about love and romance, although we’re always about love at YP Insight.  We’ve got some positive and love-related events coming up though, which I’m excited about.

The Kickback on February 20th will be the first YP Insight event I will unfortunately be unable to attend, as I will be on a youth trip to Brussels, which I hope will enable me to create some change.  I’m admittedly a little anxious about not being at a YP Insight event, because this platform is my baby, but I am excited to leave it in the capable hands of Stephen.

Stephen led out on The Kickback in November, when we discussed his chosen topic of ‘Online Dating’, but this month he’s back to lead out on the conversation that will be asking the question, ‘What is Happiness?’

It’s set to be another enjoyable evening filled with captivating conversation, from 6.30-8.30pm in Project B.  Register for the event here:

We’re bringing ‘Love & Hate’ back to Poetic Insight on February 27th, since love and hate are two sides of the same coin.  Even though it’s Valentines month, you don’t have to talk about loving or hating in a romantic way – you can interpret the theme as you will.

If you’re a young poet or spoken word artist wanting to perform, please email or send a message to 07910092565.  Remember to save the date, be at Project B between 7-9pm and register for your free tickets here:

I hope that you will come to support Stephen at The Kickback and I hope to see some of you at Poetic Insight, so I can spread the love with you beautiful people.  Enjoy the rest of February.

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.