The Mouthy Poets are an open collective of young people who create, command and coordinate their words, voice and career through writing, performance and event production.
In residence at Nottingham Playhouse, Mouthy create energising first-class shows and education programs in theatres, festivals, schools, universities and living rooms. Their poetry often collaborates with all types of entertainment: music, visual art, film and dance to name a few.
Ultimately, Mouthy is about empowering young people to challenge, speak and work hard and, as a result, is owned by the poets, lyricists, songwriters and storymakers within it. If you’re aged 15-30 and have an interest in the spoken word then Mouthy Poets is the place for you.
I ran from Bridlesmith Gate to get to the Playhouse, knowing I was going to be late. I began to panic as I knew this was a bad first impression. I stopped as I saw the Playhouse and thought to myself; “right calm down, you don't want to walk into your first ‘rehearsals’ out of breath and sweating”. I wasn't nervous or excited just numb. I really hoped this would be a place I could begin to explore my practice again. A place to find my niche, or just somewhere I can produce work...
I collected my ticket and was directed to the rehearsal room, which was on the next floor. I began walking up the stairs, as I reached the top I heard a bundle of laughter and could see movement of bodies through some smoky glass. It was then that it hit me. “What am I doing here? This isn't for me”. I turned back round to leave, stopped and said to myself; “grow a pair”. I was frightened for the first time since moving home to Nottingham, after finishing my Degree up north. I had met so many new people and nothing had phased me until this moment. “What if I didn't fit in, what if no one understood my work, what if I was totally out my depth?”
I entered the room and was greeted with a huge smile from Deborah Stevenson, who is the artistic director and founder of Mouthy Poets. Behind her I saw an old friend smiling and waving enthusiastically. Georgina Wilding, who has been accepted for the Publishing and Merchandise Internship that is offered at Mouthy. I automatically relaxed.
"You must be Nadia" Deborah
"You know Georgina" Deborah
"Yes...sorry I’m late" Nadia
"Don't be silly take a seat and make yourself at home" Deborah.
Make yourself at home: what does that mean? Everyone was nattering away as I sat down and soaked up the atmosphere. A variety of ages, different styles of dress and all laughing and engrossed in conversation. I composed myself and as I did Deborah came over and said "Write a poem about someone here. As you don't know anyone a memory will do, and don't worry". I know that's what I am here for, but I have never written a poem in my life. And worry, well, that just naturally happened. I wanted to say every swear word under the sun but I didn't. Instead I did the challenge. We got into a circle and one by one we performed our poem. I never felt so stupid and shy before but I did it. However, there was no judging or confused faces, just faces of encouragement; it was reassuring.
From that moment on I knew I wanted to attend every Friday’s rehearsal. I was ready for this challenge, for learning something new, to gain confidence and to get to know this group of people. Watching them perform and seeing what they had produced in a matter of minutes was incredible. I could not believe how brave and confident they were to openly read and perform their own work.
Over a matter of weeks, I had the privilege of talking to Anne Holloway, who is the new professional and development manager of Mouthy Poets. As we sat she asked me about my work and explained to me what Mouthy has to offer from supporting me in my own practice to helping me with applications. It's a support system that allows not only poets but artists, authors, playwrights, publishers, people working in marketing, creative writers and people who just love writing to be educated and inspired and to explore their practice even further. I was encouraged to begin writing my Say Sumthin 8 piece.
Say Sumthin 8 is the next of 2 Spoken Words performances, which are taking place at a new establishment. It is written and performed by everyone from Mouthy. What is exciting for Mouthy but also for myself, is performing for the first time with Mouthy, and for the first time at Djanogly City Academy, with input from the students themselves.
Mouthy has always been known to be at the Playhouse, but last year Mouthy delivered a year long spoken word education program at Djanogly City Academy where members of Mouthy worked with every student in the school. Mouthy felt it was really important to have the show at Djanogly as it not only gives the Mouthy members an opportunity to build on the work they have already established with the school but it is also a way to reach out to a more diverse community and audience. By spreading their wings outside of the Playhouse and by performing at Djanogly, it opens the audience to new members who are not regular Playhouse members. Mouthy is ready for the next challenge of performing on a new stage in Nottingham, meeting and inspiring new people.
New York Slam Poet Jon Sands will also be performing in Say Sumthin 8 next month. Jon Sands teaches creative writing at a HIV/AIDS service centre in Harlem and the Positive Health Project in Manhattan. He has features in The New York Times and represented New York City many times at the U.S National Poetry Slam. Jon Sands has also been anthologized in 2014 Best American Poetry.
Say Sumthin 8 is taking place on two nights Friday 27th February and Saturday 28th February. They are different and exciting nights. Friday the 27th is a scratch night, which is a less formal atmosphere. It is like a poetry gig with an open mic night open to the public. Saturday the 28th Feburary is the Headline show which is a more formal evening in a theatre atmosphere. Both evenings are different and unique with exciting pieces of work ready to be performed.
Mouthy Poets has opened up new opportunities, experiences and depths of my own practice in literature and art. I’ve been inspired, so come along and get inspired too!