Kids these days – the old moan goes – have nothing to do; nothing to care about and no sense of responsibility.
We hear about the disaffected youth so much that it’s in danger of drowning out some of its finest voices.
Tearing down the stereotype is London’s thriving slam poetry scene, where predominantly young men and women are making Obama’s oratory skills look ordinary.
Lyric Lounge last Friday was a case in point. Organised by two of the scene’s leading lights, Dean Atta and Deanna Rodger, the room was teeming with tales of knives swapped for pens.
Judges endured the whims of the audience to find Bunmi Hazzan champion for the night, winning a slot at this Sunday’s slam at the Soho Theatre.
The deep, hypnotic drawl of the 29-year-old seems drawn from a well of experience, but his journey in poetry only began in January. “It’s pretty unlikely I’d end up here,” says the Harlesden resident more
used to action movies and computer games. “I’ve always liked poets like Maya Angelou and Edgar
Allan Poe, but never considered writing.”
That changed after seeing rapper Black Ice ‘spit’ (perform) on You Tube. “I was so inspired I started doing open mic nights at The Foundary in east London, and met good people on the scene. As corny as it sounds, poetry brought joy to my life.”
Dean and Deanna will also perform on Sunday, as well as a collection of first-time writers from Westminster’s less flashy neighbourhoods.
If you get hooked, there’s also next Thursday. Book Slam, hosted by Ty – British hip-hop’s beacon of positivity – will be teaming up with preeminent poetry-pushers Apples & Snakes to celebrate their 25th birthday.
The Portobello venue has hosted storytellers from Zadie Smith and Irvine Welsh to Lemn Sissay and Kate Nash – don’t miss out on this little slice of London history in the making.
Book Slam is at 12 Acklam Road on Thursday, November 27, from 6.30pm. £8/6. See www.bookslam.com