Categories
Uncategorized

Zoom a Zoom Zoom, 10 Poets in a Virtual Room

The Initial meet up – Saturday 12th September

Like most things in the world, we have had to adapt this project to embrace the so called ‘new normal’.

The poetry exchange was due to start back in April 2020. However, due to Lockdown measures and the ongoing pandemic, the Born Lippy Collective (based in Newcastle) were sadly prevented from visiting London to meet up with their poetic counterparts- Spoken. As measures have since somewhat been relaxed we decided to start the project, but felt that it was safer to do this via an initial meet up on Zoom.

I have previously run a number of workshops on Zoom as it has quickly become the new classroom, youth club and team meeting, enabling everyone with an internet connection to participate, regardless of their location. Before we started, I was still feeling quite nervous as I knew there would be limitations in meeting virtually like people not being able to express everything they want to say or becoming tired due to Zoom fatigue.  

What occurred was amazing. Nine poets from London, Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough met online to meet and greet each other, find out more about the project and start to have discussions about the type of issues they were of importance to them.

Initially taking part in a series of icebreaker games led by myself, the poets were moved into breakout spaces where they were asked to find three things they had in common and find out what had initially each got them interested in spoken word poetry. Commonalities included: a shared love of lasagne, jungle music and Paris, a shared interest in travelling, nature and doing charity work and a shared dislike of internet life, Brexit and Chelsea F.C. Reasons for getting into spoken word included: writing a poem while attending a Mos Def Hip-hop concert, getting into performing while acting in a school adaptation of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and attending a spoken event while going out on a date night. Poets found this difficult as they were only given three minutes to meet and find out off all of this info from each other.

They then each had to get on their virtual soap box and talk passionately about a social issue that was of importance to them. The purpose of this exercise was for each of them to speak out and enable the other participants to find out more about what makes them passionate, makes them tick and what they are concerned about. 

Poets were timed, being given only two minutes to preach before others were able to chime in and talk in support of that same issue for one minute. Topics included: learning lessons from British black history, the connection between racism and class, how big and diverse racism actually is anfd its connection with colourism, division and isolation within LGBTQ community, alienation in face to face and online communities, youth empowerment at a time when services are being cut, the danger of division created by fake news during the pandemic.

Though initially it was planned for everyone to share one of their own poems from their repertoire, we were cutting it close for time so we put the poets back into breakout rooms to discuss the issues they raised in more depth. This was useful for helping the poets work out who they bonded with and might want to collaborate with on the project. Unfortunately it was difficult as due to technical difficulties we were only able to talk for three minutes which meant discussions did end quite abruptly.

Back in the main room, people then fed back about the process and checked out about their thoughts on the day. Comments included:

“Lots of interesting topics and learning taken from everyone – it helped me get educated by hearing from different voices and experiences”.  

“Met lots of people I think I could really work well with by having conversations that got me thinking”.

“Looking forward to using poetry to work out things that are more difficult”,

 “Today was beautiful. Feel optimistic and grateful for being involved.”

“Excited about being involved in a project with other people who want change the world-  so let’s go out and shake up the s**t.”

 “Never been involved in anything like this before, but now feeling really positive.”

“Longest Zoom call I’ve ever had but it was really interesting and got a chance to share the space with you all.”

Though a great success, one poet was sadly unable to attend so we will have to recruit someone to replace them.  I found the day inspiring but I found it challenging being both a facilitator and participant.

Next stage- we are meeting up in London in person on 22nd October to be paired up with poets and start writing We might even get the chance to perform some poems in front of actual people at a Spoken showcase. Watch this space. 

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s