shouting out loud

Never idly talk about your daydreams on twitter. Or maybe, always talk idly about your daydreams on twitter….i dunno which, I’ll get back to you…

It was ages ago Emma Ledger first mentioned it to me – the idea of forming a female (identified) spoken word troupe a la Sister Spit fronting up writers with a queer/feminist/zine background from the UK.  We were chatting about who might be involved, how it might be work, but we decided we weren’t quite there, that it would need some development, the artists would need some development. Then we kinda shelved it, as life got in the way.

But lately it’s been coming back – watching some of the performers at Word Life a spoken word night which happens at a venue I work at – I was thinking more about women as performers -how they inhabit space, how they feel able to take up room, or not.  And  then I had a conversation with Jess from the travelling suitcase library about Bettakultcha about how out of the many presentations there were only two by women – and it’s set me off thinking again.

Experiences of womanhood and femininity are diverse and dependent on so many other parts of our identity and experience.  But what I see time and time again (what I experience time and time again, myself) is this performance anxiety, this reluctance to get up on stage, project your voice, make yourself heard.  That is *still* holding us back.

and to refer back to one of my favourite quotes from Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney ‘When girls are allowed to let go and not be called crazy, or yell without being called angry, then they learn that the world they live in is limitless or at least that the possibilities are. Girls discover that they draw, that they can be heard. And you don’t have to yell: you can stand onstage and sing the prettiest, quietest song, commanding an entire room with yr voice. To reach the back of the room and beyond with a sound you create, that will change yr world. You have to be able to imagine that you are bigger than you are, especially when girls are usually taught to be smaller, both literally and figuratively. It all comes back to making a sound, making a noise. If you are lucky enough to hear it, you will be moved. If you are even luckier and you get to make the sound, you will be forever changed’

There have been other rad nights – like Heart Beats poetry who have been amazing at giving women poets and writers a platform and supportive atmosphere.

But I think I’d want to take things further; getting women spoken word artists (or girls who wouldn’t even consider themselves these things…. yet) with potential together and working out and on some things; about confidence, taking up space, voice projection, performing; with other people who *know* their shit; so it’d be longer term; almost a development programme…..but fun too…..because, it *has* to be fun….I know some people wouldn’t need it or want it….but I dunno, what do you think: is there still a need? Are you interested? let me know….here or at


About Rachel

zinester/diy-til-i-die/love hate relationship with arts admin/girlpunkfeminist/geek
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9 Responses to shouting out loud

  1. Hannah says:

    def interested. Like you say though, don’t think I’d call myself a spoken word artist, but that’s probably because I’ve never seen any… I like writing, performing, that kind of thing though. Feel free to add me to the ‘interested’ list. x

  2. Thiefree says:

    I love you so hard in the face. As you can no doubt tell from that veritable wordcake of a sentence, I’m an aspiring performance poet myself! I’m very excited about the reactions I’m getting, and looking forward to getting stuck into the Cardiff poetry circuit. Thanks so much for the recommendations, can’t wait to check them out 😀

  3. Charlie says:

    I heart you so hard right now babe!

    Wanted to do something like this for a long time, but never had the guts. Would love some others to learn with!

    Are you thinking about this as a northern regional thing?

  4. Jess says:

    YES VERY MUCH SO. Although I’ve never considered myself a performer I’m regularly asked why not, this might be the impetus I need to Do Something About This. Mega Yey xxx

  5. O: thanks guys….

    i’m very much still at the stage of putting my hands out in front of my face and feeling my way on this: figuring out what artists would need and want, how any programme would work practically, how on earth people would be selected…..

    i’m lucky to work in a venue who would give me space (and possibly resources) to see if this worked….so i’ve at least got a head start on that…

    from a practical pov a northern bias would be obviously easier; but i’m no way committed to restricting it….

    Anyone got any ideas on how this would fly in terms of ‘equal opportunities’…?if you are excluding people who don’t identify as female…..just anticipating potential objections….

  6. Cel says:

    I run a queer poetry night down in London & I perform poetry as well, really interested in this! Doing stuff like this has been part of my purpose in running the night (Incite at First Out) and it’s been partially successful, and thoughts have been bounced around about doing a special night along these lines for a while.

    I performed last week in front of a new audience and though it’s maybe the tenth time my hands were still shaking – managed to project up and out though and people heard. Could have done with focusing on the audience to calm me too! Definitely interested in teaching as well as learning here, so please let me know of further developments! Very keen to help out with contacts/etc/any way I can.

    Cel 😀

  7. Alex Herod says:

    I think it’s an amazing idea and YES YES YES I would absolutely love to be involved. What struck me is the idea that it’s about mutual support and development as well as people who are good at something just getting together for the odd event now and then. And a longer term aim than just putting a night on. Very much about that sense of community and be able to progress and having a voice. And also having a whole ton of fun with some awesome folk.

    I guess i’ve never done what i’d class as ‘spoken word’, but I write words (often) to be spoken and performed… and have had only a tiny bit of experience of having the courage to be the one to speak them (but my oh my it felt good)… so it’s something I really want to explore, i’ve just never known where might be the space for exploration.

  8. Charlie says:

    Yeah, I think we could all bring different things. I’ve never done spoken word, but I’ve talked in front of up to hundreds at tech conferences and training sessions. I could show how to cope with that. But the thought of bearing my heart on stage? *That* scares me and I’d love to learn!

  9. Hey Cel,

    Really interested in your night – do you have info online?

    I guess early doors steps would be surveying the current UK scene (anyone got any people they think are worth checking out?) and also looking into who might be able to offer training and development in voice projection, confidence building and anything else relevant – if anyone has been to anything good or has any recommendations of resources give me a shout (:

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