L for Love Listen Softly London

‘Make it short & snappy’

L for Loving discovering Listen Softly London.

Listen Softly London hosted a spoken word performance night in association with the Ministry of Stories. I attended with no expectations and left feeling like I’d been smacked across the face with a big bar of ‘this is what you’ve been missing from your life!’

‘Just the facts please’

  • Ministry of Stories is a young people’s charity promoting creativity and story telling.
  • Twitter: @mini_stories

‘I’ve got a cup of tea, tell me all about it…’

Firstly, Happy Valentine’s Day all.

I could have opted for L simply for love, instead I’ve chosen to talk about my Listen Softly London experience and at the same time highlight a few different ways to experience love:

  1. Love for something: recounting a memorable experience I enjoyed recently and loved.
  2. Love for yourself: the importance of nurturing your spirit through doing what you love; things that get you into a state of ‘flow’ whether that be music, dance, sport, poetry or something else. The importance of time for you.
  3. Love for someone: getting out the house where you will experience new things and meet new people including possibly finding new loves.

I love words, rhythm, rhyme. The look, feel and taste as words spring from a page or my mind and roll around my tongue. Tricky tongue twisters and serene sibillence. I love the meaning behind them, playing with them, writing them, linking them and messing them around. Fonts, calligraphy, print, the look of letters scrawled across a page versus lovingly placed. The speed, the energy, the power, the influence. The way in which, which witch word you select can change the meaning completely.

I’m a fan of art therapy and improvisation, both which work on disconnecting your mind from the filtered cultural and social censoring we do every day to ensure we say the right things and don’t offend. However, I also a big fan of the carefully selected and primed art of word, sentence, paragraph and prose creation.

My love of words led me to the Ministry of Stories & the Hackney Pirates to help children develop a yearning for a good yarn, beg for a bedtime story and wish for a writing pad and pen for Christmas.

Through MOS, I received an invite to Listen Softly London. Not having been to a poetry performance night for quite some time I figured why not?

The place was packed. So packed I had to request another chair and annex myself onto an already full table. I had entered an amazing space. A space filled with truth and warmth. A crowded room of smiling faces and open minds ready to be quenched with torrents of eloquent lines filled with power and laced with intrigue. A place where shy introverts transform on stage into dynamite dynamos rapping away like the world is watching… which we were! Dry rapier wit delivered line by line with the straightest of faces and twisted tales straight from the streets.

There’s one thing to read poetry but to have the poets themselves there in front of you portraying in raw intensity all the nuances; to get wrapped up in the rap and rhythm, the rhyme and intonation. To detect from the tone, body language and pace what underlying message there might be. An experience you can’t get from paper, although now I’ve heard their voices they follow me when I do read alone.

I can’t emphasise how much I felt my creative soul being nurtured by the soothing words. The many ways to manifest a tale of woe, wonder and longing. Each poet was brilliantly different and diverse with stories ranging from the disturbing fascination of a buzzing electrical pylon post in an imagined anti-technology revolution, all the way to a little girl’s dream to become Maria Von Trap!

I’ve already mentioned these few during a few past posts: Megan Beech, Listen Softly London, and Ministry of Stories. There were others too: Dan Carpenter, Sarah Sheldon and Dean McCaffrey. I was so taken I bought two books and have relished reading them.

Here’s a Valentine’s gift from Megan Beech, reproduced with permission. It’s a cool poem showing how a couple can work even if they don’t share all the same opinions. J and I have very different musical tastes too. I’m a cheesy pop and Disney fan, he’s more into what I call “bleurgh boy music” and classical. We come together over sixties music, Queen, and Michael Buble.

by Megan Beech

by Megan Beech

Also I must mention I made some new great friends there. Point three above addresses the reason why along with instigating invites, you should do your utmost to accept. When you feel like turning down an invite in preference for a date with QI reruns think of this: you know what will happen once you close the door at home, more or less, but you have no idea of what surprises lay ahead of you, outside your front door. The people you meet, the stories you hear and the memories you create. In a city like ours we have no excuse not to enjoy it to the full.

So let the words flow into your brain and release them. Next time you’re out: listen to the silvered crisp leaves scampering across damp ravines and rugged uneven concrete chunks as the wind nudges them forward. Listen to the thoughts swirling in your mind, let them chatter and then quieten to reflect. Listen to all the stories told across the city: intermeshing and crossing paths into a wonderful web of entangled lives, each a sparkled jewel on a spider’s web.

Listen Softly London.

As a post script, if anyone knows of any London based establishment or group where you can analyse poetry much like you do in GCSE or A Level English, please let me know. I really long to get back to scribbling in the margins of an anthology and pick up the symbolism and subtle techniques used. I’m not talking about a writing group, more of an analysis-of-poetry-already-out-there group. Thanks!

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One response to “L for Love Listen Softly London

  1. Pingback: Full on February Alphabet Challenge – Complete! | MishMashTash·

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