The Launch

simolep's launch album on Photobucket

So, I was officially ‘launched’ as the first Poet Laureate for the borough of Brent last Friday. Happy times at chateau Mole. For a while though I was unsure what this ‘launch’ would involve, would I be treated as a ship before its maiden voyage? Ok, I admit it, I’ve been having nightmares for weeks in which the mayor swings a large magnum of champagne full force into my hull, before pushing me off into the Welsh Harp reservoir! Thankfully, the poetry reading we held at the new Brent Civic Centre ran very smoothly indeed…

There was a lovely warm audience, and the feature poets I’ve been introducing on this blog were all as awesome as expected. John Agard performing his poem ‘Books make good pets’ in honour of the new Wembley Library was a personal highlight. I even tried out two brand new Brent inspired pieces myself, one of which I will put up as my next blog post. You can hear me reading a snippet of it as part of an interview on BBC London radio here:

As I said in the interview, as well as me writing and performing poetry about the borough, a big part of the project is creating a platform for other voices within Brent to be heard. This will take the form of a series of FREE writing workshops I will be running at different locations in Brent over the next six months.

The first one is taking place on Saturday July 6th at 2pm, in Brent Civic Centre, and will be a chance to write about places that are important to us within the borough, be that grand landmarks such as Wembley stadium and Neasden temple, or lesser known spots which resonate personally… Find out more info and book you place here!

Keep your eyes out for my first poem soon, and feel free to comment on this post with any ideas you might have for what I should write about next!

Brent Poet Laureate Launch

Brent Poet Laureate Launch
Friday, June 21, 2013
7:00pm - All Ages Buy Tickets
Engineers Way,
Wembley ,
London, UK HA9 0FJ
Other Info
Brent is excited to announce their first Poet Laureate – Simon Mole.

Join Simon and special guests Inua Ellams, John Agard and Warsan Shire for a fantastic evening of poetry and spoken word.

This event is FREE but you will need to book tickets here:

** The Brent Poet Laureate - Simon Mole:
Simon Mole is a London-based poet, emcee, and theatre maker with an eye for the often overlooked in the everyday - his infectious enthusiasm for seeing and re-seeing the world around him is an open invitation for you to do the same.

Simon is one fifth of the Chill Pill Collective, curating and performing at hugely popular poetry nights at Soho Theatre, the Albany, and Roundhouse. His groundbreaking one-man show Indiana Jones and the extra chair has sold-out two London runs and is currently touring nationally while Simon develop his latest show No More Worries.

More about the other poets:

** John Agard
John is a playwright, poet, short-story and children's writer from Guyana, and a former Writer in Residence at the South Bank Centre and Poet in Residence at the BBC.

He has won over five awards for his works and this year is the recipient of the Queen's Award Medal for Poetry. His poem Half Caste has been featured in the English GCSE anthology since 2002 meaning that many students have studied his work. He tours regularly with literature company renaissance one giving exhilarating performances of his work and delighting audiences of all ages with his wordplay and imagination.

** Inua Ellams
An internationally touring poet/playwright/performer, Inua has seven published books including 'Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales', and 'The 14th Tale' which was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival, before a sold out run at The National Theatre. His third theatre piece, Black T-Shirt Collection also completed a sold out run at the National Theatre in 2012.

** Warsan Shire
2007 international slam champion Warsan Shire is a London based Somali poet, writer, freelance journalist and spoken word artist who uses her deeply moving poetry to voice the silenced and misunderstood. She has performed and toured extensively across the UK and North America. Born in Kenya, her poetry is mixture of English and African languages. In 2012 she published her first book of poetry, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth.

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Brent Poet Laureate Launch – meet featured poet #1: Inua Ellams

This is the first in a mini-series of posts to introduce you to the incredible poets I’ve managed to persuade to grace the stage at the (FREE) launch event for my role as the Brent Poet Laureate, which is taking place on Friday June 21st. First up, Mr. ‘two of my solo shows sold out their runs at The National’ himself – Inua Ellams!

I first saw Inua performing in a library in Acton back in about 2007 when I didn’t even really know what spoken word was. It was another few years before the emphasis in my creative life shifted from hip hop to poetry and story-telling, but I always remember that funny little event as a turning point when I realised that poetry could speak to me so strongly through live performance.

This video is of Inua performing his basketball inspired poem ‘leather comets’, which is a favourite of mine.

Inua’s poetry is great to read on the page too, and his pamphlets ‘Candy Caoted Unicorns And Converse All Stars’ and ‘The Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales’ are available from Flipped Eye.

The Midnight Run!

In July I was lucky enough to be involved in a wonderful thing called The Midnight Run – led by poet Inua Ellams, a group of people explore a city at night; walking, chatting and taking part in creative activities laid on by the artists selected for that particular outing. The run I was involved in also featured a musician, a holistic therapist, a film-maker, and a photographer, and was laid on for young creatives taking part in the ‘Africa Eutopia’ season at Southbank Centre.

I would tell you more about what we got up to, but part of my job for the night was to write a poem, which I hope says what it needs to. You can read and listen to here:

The Midnight Run
At midnight
We should be somewhere high up
things matter less here
The skinny brick wall, walk it
with a day on either side, walk it
hard as it is to balance long enough to stay
walk it arms together, pointing only up.

London wears midnight like a new suit
still pristine, the shirt tugged open at the neck.
These are nights of running, fast
running fast pointless fast relays fast
Round the crypt of St. Martin’s Vestry Hall
rolled up newspapers = batons
roaring crowds = the wobbly post-pub peleton
drunkenly urging us on.
These are nights of walking, slow
With no purpose but to walk,
Nights of quick stops at newsagents
That take ages, clan clustered chatting
Outside, waiting for the last of us to hurry up and choose
Only to realise that we are all here.
And have all been here for some time.
Move on. One Midnight
can strip you naked with a glance
Gather what you can around you
Let it go. These are nights of music.
And much later, in a quiet street
TJ plays a melody his mother hums, always
listening, I see her in her kitchen,
but his guitar makes this a kitchen that I know
Again later, now alone
I stop on one wide pavement, and face another
building that is tall enough to make me feel a child.
The top floor: four windows are lit.
I will put one problem in each.
And stand here, on the pavement opposite
Until all the lights are out. Until my midnight
is as clear as Whitman’s midnight, Within time
I see the space between things
as much as the things themselves
things matter less here
midnight has left it’s handprint
on the window of my soul.
In the morning when I wake
I breathe on the glass, tap it once
And watch it crack. It makes a sound
Like the sky.

Simon Mole, 2012