Poetry is one of the most ancient ways to express feelings. Written or performed, it’s an art form which conveys the most intimate and personal views on life and the world. We tend to think of poetry as a solitary activity – four walls, suffused lights, a comfortable sofa, a book in your hand. The act of producing poetry is also considered an individual and isolated gesture. Remember Wordsworth? “For oft, when on my couch I lie, in vacant or in pensive mood, they flash upon that inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude…”
But like it or not, this is not the early 1800s. London is vibrant and full of places promoting poetry as a means of connection between people. One such place is Apples and Snakes, which organises performed poetry events. Based in Albany, Apples and Snakes also coordinates national events. Their main focus is the spoken word and the various ways in which it can be spread. Through their live events, they bring to audiences a diverse range of high-quality poetry performances, from open mic nights to LGBT poets. For instance, on the 27th of September, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze and Roger Robinson will be lighting up the night at Apples and Snakes. Two poets with national and international reputations, they will perform ‘dub poetry’ – merging powerful poetic texts with the rhythms of dub.
Live performances are just the tip of a huge iceberg at Apples and Snakes. The development of poets is a fundamental part of its offering, with a wide programme of masterclasses and workshops available. Indeed, both Robinson and Breeze have mentored at recent workshops. There are also spaces for poets and creatives to join together, rehearse, learn and share feedback in order to grow as performers and writers. Perhaps the best part is that most of these activities are either free, or ticketed at very low prices. All you need is a willingness to express yourself.
The activity at Apples and Snakes also includes a series of projects. An archive of materials produced over 30 years was set up last year and is ever-expanding. This fantastic resource includes videos, recordings, and interviews, and is available to anyone. Inspiration and challenge are the focus in The Writing Room, a space provided by the organisation specifically for young people aged 18-25 to the improve their writing skills. And with an eye on the social power of creative writing, Sally Pomme Clayton’s book, THE NO PANIC BOOK OF NOT PANICKING, collects a series of writings based on experiences of anxiety, panic attacks and depression. The aim is to help people who suffer from these issues to express themselves and find some solace. You can read it online for free or buy a copy for just £3.
Education, improvement, beauty and self-expression are the main words that come to my mind when I think about Apples and Snakes. Through their work the team relentlessly inspire, giving people across the country the opportunity to connect with some of the best writers, storytellers and poets from around the world. To find your nearest event, where you too can enjoy the power of the spoken word, visit the Apples and Snakes website.
Edited by Sarah Huntington