By BWV reporter Hannah Hier
As part of Bristol Women’s Voice (BWV) celebrations for International Women’s Day (IWD) on the 2nd of March at City Hall there was a Spoken Word Open Mic event. In one of the tucked away rooms at the back of City Hall, women, children and men squeezed in to watch a line up of amazing poets from all around the city.
Nadine Dyen, the host for the event, kicked off the spoken word with her eye-opening slam poem called “Your not my Architect”, exploring feminist issues, especially body image. After her poem Nadine then went into a bit of context around her work and how she got into poetry, talking about how a lot of her poetry is influenced by hip-hop and female voices around her. It was so inspiring to listen her talk about finding your voice, especially as a female. Consequently she then proceeded to honour all the women’s voices in the room and around the world. “Women’s voices are not heard enough in work meetings and therapy sessions.”
We then heard from some other amazing poets from Bristol: Shagufta K and Isodora Vibes. Isodora is a poet, theatre producer and writer, having performed all around the UK Isodora was powerfully honest in her poetry about her experiences as a women, daughter and mum. “Writing poetry is the way I make sense of the world.” When performing she read from her excellent book called “Soak” a range of poems she had written about different experiences in her life. The content of her poems focused around the relationships in her life, she spoke about her loving relationship with her grandma, her relationship with food, the intense but loving relationship with her son and about her 8 year old daughter growing up. One of the lines from her poem about her and her sons relationship was “my nemesis, my dearest love, my defeat.” Isodora was talented and inspiring to listen to!
The next performing poet was Shagufta K, a filmmaker, poet, workshop facilitator and founder of Universe Poetry. She also has written a book called “Jam is for girls, girls get jam” and includes a range of poems about her experiences as a women, especially around her punjabi background and becoming a feminist when she was 13. Her poems explored gender equality with food, marital rape and the women’s vote. She also spoke about her experiences living in Bristol, touching on the lack of privacy in terrace houses and how nothing is hidden. “I would feel the blues and purples being splattered on her skin”. Shagufta’s poems were eye-opening and superb, talking about family dynamics and love. “We are re-learning what love is.”
The floor was then opened up to anyone in the audience to voice their poems to the rest of the room. After hearing such amazing poets perform, many audience members were keen to share their work. We heard from a group of women called Out of Order who performed protest poetry about the amount of expenses MP’s collect, the council not keeping their promises and saving the libraries. A song was sang by one of the members called “Bread and Roses”, a sense of togetherness felt as the audience members started to join in. Many audience members stepped up to share poems on celebrating the female body, universal prayers for peace and the Windrush migrants. Women, men, mothers, grandmas all took up the space and reminded the room what power and honesty there was in female voices.