Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lyric Lounge 2010

Last night saw the grand finale of Lyric Lounge 2010. A temporary spoken word venue which has toured through the East Midlands; transforming found spaces into accessible hives of lyrical activity with linked live events aimed at attracting young people and a range of culturally diverse participants and audiences. The aim for this engaging concept is to reach out and generate new interest in spoken word performance, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to attend three out of the four festivals this year, which were held in Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Loughborough.

To me each lounge was unique, with its own ambience and personality, yet also similar, like children born from the same mother. They created a place where the power of the spoken word, poetry and lyrics was celebrated for its ability to connect, entertain and inspire. They have reached out, developed and showcased the talent of local writers and groups and have also been host to such eminent poets as John Hegley, Jean Binta Breeze and John Agard. People were actively encouraged to share their work, whether it be at one of the many open mic opportunities, workshops or 1-2-1’s with professional poets held in the festivals, or even invited to write poetry on the tables, which were ingeniously decorated with bight paper table cloths stamped with the words ‘write on me’. For me the Lyric Lounge acted as a conduit, allowing the audience to reach out into different cultures and groups in the counties, and I feel deeply moved by the experience. The quality of the work by people involved in each of the Lounges has been exceptional, with people honest enough to bear part of themselves and connect through the vehicle of verse and rhyme.

The last performance of these fantastic festivals was the critically acclaimed ‘Showcase Live’, featured by the BBC, Truetube and the British Film Institute. With a cast of culturally diverse poets drawing from personal experience and examining themes from mental health to getting lost and being found, the show was at once brutally honest, dark and profoundly optimistic. The multi media show used video, music and poetry performance to further draw you into the lives and psyche of the poets, creating an unforgettable, powerful show. For me the performance highlighted one of poetry greatest assets: its ability allow people to eloquently express how they feel and make us realise that we through we live disconnected, often fragmented lives, we are not very different from each other at all. To bring unity and understanding through the power of language.

These events are absolutely invaluable in their ability to connect people, to develop voices or even just to make people see that they have a voice which is worth being heard. The Lyric Lounge will now return its region tour next year, visiting Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.

Lyric Lounge will also be returning for a day, Thursday the 7th October as part of the excellent Everybody’s Reading festival in Leicester, and I do hope you can make it over. For more information please see here.

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