Vast Poets Standing
March 20th, 2015 by Dan Branigan.
Poetry poured and love reigned at HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday 4th March, where GROUNDation II: Poetry, Power, People took place; a fitting performance finale to our GROUNDation Poetry Project (GPP). Workshop participants from the prison and the local community outside gathered together for the first time in a creative exchange in front of family, friends, supporters, prison staff and members of the general public. From when Charlotte our Executive Director in her introduction recited ‘A Suicidal Chicken’ until Ross played a guitar he’d been learning for 6 weeks and sang to his wife and audience, power was transferred to the people.
Our host for the day, Joelle Taylor, with her customary brio, invigorated the room by instructing it to raise our hands and have the left slap the right like they were in an argument; and then make some noise. The room was then electrified by Joelle recitation of her poem ‘Last Poet Standing’. All ears then stood to attention for waves of poets that took to the stage thereafter. Silence was met by roars, time after time, as Rich told us of his ‘Brethren’, Bailey her ‘Beautiful Barn’, Jack about ‘A Girl Lying in The Earth’ and the room melting into ‘Bliss’ as Gloria elevated collective histories in her reading of ‘In Wandsworth’.
Two of the cornerstones of our project have the local and community, and audience and performers reflected the diversity of the Borough of Wandsworth culturally, socially and in talent. Older people, younger people, students, pensioners and those with physical impairment were a few amidst a field of dreams that became poetic thought. One community brought together by poetry.
Safe Ground and the GROUNDation Poetry Project are very grateful to those in the prison that made the event happen and run without incident, Javier, Emma, Anthea, Cynthia, Kevin, Radio Wanno, Haroon and Sarah to name a few; not forgetting Orla for organising an outstanding event.
Enjoy the small picture gallery below and look out for the GPP documentary and book of poetry both scheduled to launch late April 2015.