Partnering with the Southbank Centre, Out-spoken is a poetry organisation that celebrates the diversity of voice in writing and performance. A night dedicated to amplifying the voices among us that aren’t always heard, I listened intently to the messages which were being shared in this collective space.
The night consisted of both poetry and music, with sets from Jason Allen-Paisant, Andrew McMillan and Mona Arshi (see image); and music from Raquel Martins and Benny Atlas. As they spoke from the depths of their hearts and minds, each artist created an atmosphere filled with emotion. Poetry revolves around the personal; there was a shared sense of authenticity throughout the evening. Entranced by the words which flowed through the evening, I thoroughly enjoyed this event!
Andrew McMillan performed a selection of poems relating to mental health and its struggles. The poems which were so deeply personal reverberated across the room, allowing the audience to emotionally connect with the poet. As calls for more conversations around mental health, particularly men’s mental health, are rising, McMillan’s performance was powerful in its prose.
Mona Arshi, the winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2015, performed a selection of her new poems. Reflecting on her experiences during lockdown – which was all extremely relatable – she shared that writing poems had “saved her” during this time of uncertainty. She also performed a ghazal, which she explained carried her emotions more wholly.
The musical performances from Raquel Martins and Benny Atlas were phenomenal. Captivating the audience with their powerful vocals and soul-touching lyrics, it was amazing to hear the voices of two talented, upcoming artists. Benny Atlas, who emerged onto the scene in 2020 delivered a brilliant performance. His smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics vibrated across the room and ended the night on a sweet, melodic note.
Outspoken will be back at the Southbank Centre on 24 February 2022, book your tickets now at: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/literature-poetry/out-spoken-february?eventId=893732
Reviewed by Ridha Sheikh – Ridha is a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. She is a recent History and Politics graduate from Queen Mary – University of London. Ridha is excited to explore and share her strong passion for London’s art scene.