Momtaza Mehri, Spread the Word’s Young People’s Laureate for London, tackles gentrification and hidden histories in a specially commissioned poem as part of the Be My Next Inspiration campaign, launched ahead of her first YPL tour.
In October, Mehri will headline the Be My Next Inspiration Young People’s Laureate for London Tour of six outer London boroughs with 10 of the city’s leading poets, rappers and beatboxers, including Anthony Anaxagorou, Bellatrix, Bridget Minamore, Shay D, Dizraeli, Remi Graves, Cecilia Knapp, Raymond Antrobus, Rob Bradley and Deanna Rodger.
Her special poem – No Name Club – weaves unknown history with conversations held with 13 to 25 year olds in libraries in the campaign’s participating outer London boroughs of Kingston, Barking and Dagenham, Bromley, Redbridge, Brent and Sutton. Atmospheric, powerful and beautifully shot, the filmed poem celebrates the richness of culturally diverse communities and questions the upheaval and uncertainty created by gentrification.
Momtaza Mehri said: “No Name Club was an amateur football club based in Kilburn, North West London, in the 19th century. The title is a nod to the histories behind street names, which are as mysterious, layered and diverse as the people who live on them. It was a collaborative effort and I relied on the voices of the young people I worked with to inspire me. I would hope my commissioned poem returns the favour and resonates with them too.”
Developed in collaboration with BUREAU, a creative agency, the campaign offers young people access to poetry as a craft that can inspire, the opportunity for their voices to be heard, to build their confidence, create youth-led collaborations and share their stories with creative industries.
Ruth Harrison, Director of Spread the Word, responsible for the Young People’s Laureate for London programme, said: “We have teamed up with BUREAU for this year’s Young People’s Laureate for London Tour under the theme Be My Next Inspiration to support, develop and profile young poetic talent and to inspire young people to read, watch and listen to poetry – and to create their own. The campaign is inviting everyone to be part of a conversation by showcasing the value of words, how to get your voices heard and how to make a difference.”
Jeff Boardman, Strategic Director at BUREAU, said: “We wanted to create something that offers a gateway to poetry for young people from all walks of life. Working with Momtaza and other young poets on the Be My Next Inspiration campaign in the outer London boroughs has shown us what really is happening on our streets, behind closed doors and in tower blocks across our boroughs. It has made us think differently. We want to let more young people inspire us through creative collaborations such as this.”
Young people can take part in the tour at participating libraries from 22 to 27 October 2018. There will be opportunities to sign up for free workshops on beatboxing, writing poetry and performing with the chance to showcase their work in front of a live audience alongside the Laureate. The aim is to motivate young people to establish their own collectives and groups in their boroughs.
Momtaza Mehri added: “I’m excited by the forthcoming tour. It’s important for young Londoners to recognise that they too shape this city. The tour is a way for them to create a thriving poetry culture, wherever they live in the capital.”
Published 27 September 2018