During March and April 2013 I’ve been part of The Final Stage, a series of masterclasses and mentoring led by poet Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze MBE, with support from Renaissance One, Writing East Midlands, Nottingham Playhouse, Embrace Arts and Apples and Snakes. I was really excited to be working with Jean as I love her writing and performances – she ‘brought the poetry yurt down’ at Shambala Festival a couple of years ago with her dub poetry and stories, the high point of the festival.
The Final Stage sessions took place on Monday evenings at Embrace Arts with a group of writers from the East Midlands who were selected to take part: Andrew Graves, Joe Coghlan, Deborah Stevenson, Jo ‘Spice’ Blackwood, Michael Brome aka Sureshot, Michelle ‘Mother’ Hubbard, Panya Banjoko, Jo Blake Cave, Nathan Lunt and myself. Along with writing and performance exercises, it was really interesting to discuss our craft. I was especially intrigued by Jo Blake Cave who is a storyteller following the oral tradition of mostly composing in her head rather than on paper. Her words are fluent and compelling. Although I don’t consider myself to be a performance poet, I do see readings as performances in the sense that I want to read and bring across my poems to an audience in the most compelling and interesting way possible. These sessions made me realise that I really need to work on how I present myself and my work…and how I use my voice.
I also had a one-to-one artistic development session with producer Melanie Abrahams from Renaissance One and took part in a Creative Salon on Saturday 13th April at Embrace Arts, a creative forum which was well attended with a good mix of presentations and discussion. The Final Stage is set to continue in September with a performance event, when Jean returns from Jamaica.