Body Image | Internet | Manchester | Mental Health

A Body Project: Cynthia Rodriguez On Her Chin(s)

By on 13 June, 2017

A few months ago, I went to Manchester for a photoshoot for the online magazine Bustle. It was for the series A Body Project, led by the talented journalist Marie Southard Ospina and portrayed – on its Manchester leg – by Paddy McClave. The series highlights people of all genders, races and sizes, and particularly focuses on what each of these people might consider “their trouble areas”, that particular body part they can’t seem to make peace with no matter how far they are into their self-love journeys. My monstrous body part, of all the possibilities, was my chin. My chins.

The photoshoot itself was fun, albeit a bit soul bearing at times – chin bearing? Sitting inside an egg talking about Rebelde, scratching my head doing that comedy pose all the Russells love to do in their tour posters, cuddling Marie and Paddy’s beautiful baby Luna. Trying not to hide, trying not to use flattering angles for the first time in perhaps decades. Later, the bigger challenge came when answering Marie’s questions by email. That was a lot bigger and harder to hide than the chins themselves.

Either way, here is the article for you to read. I warn you, some bits are quite heavy as I talk a lot about extreme bullying in primary school, CSA and internal and external fatphobia and self-loathing. But it’s got a bit of a happy ending, I hope. At least I hope it does to you too, and you get to make things, take up space and be awesome.

Continue Reading

ANATOMY | Film | Films | Leicester | Music | Music | Painting | Poetry | Portfolio

House of Her – An International Women’s Day videocast

By on 8 March, 2017

Hello, cuties. I’ve been doing so much stuff these months I seem to have neglected this blog. Gonna break the silence and share this luffleh press release by the luffleh House of Verse. Luffleh.

“House of Her”

Leicester’s female performers and artists come together in new video for International Women’s Day

Over 15 female artists, performers, writers and musicians have come together to create a compilation of performance pieces to celebrate International Women’s Day, 8 March 2017.

Produced by House of Verse curator Jenny Hibberd, the video offers a kaleidoscope view of the issues and thoughts of Leicester’s female artists, and what International Women’s Day means to them.

“After a conversation with fellow poet Asher X, we realised that only one fifth of the House of Verse performance collective are female and we wanted to think of something we could do together to big up the ladies. Realising it was soon to be International Women’s Day was mega inspiration to create this multi-woman video.”

– Jenny “Hibword” Hibberd

Artists contributed one-minute pieces, offering uplifting, empowering or challenging messages in response to International Women’s Day. With everything from performance poetry to hula-hooping, the video shows a variety of perspectives and represents the many talented female artists making work in Leicester today.

“Wo! Man. You glow, man. Kind of everywhere. You know? You brimming, flowing, human beam. You light-packed fateful gleam. You dream.”

– Hibword

Released on 8 March, the video will be shared on House of Verse’s website, social media and Youtube accounts.

Many of the artists featured in the video will also be performing at Moonshine Word Jam, an International Women’s Day special at The Exchange Bar on 9 March. See the Facebook event here.

House of Her: Celebrating International Women's Day 2017

Happy International Women's Day you divine beings <3Enjoy this kaleidoscopic compilation of female artists, performers, writers and musicians to celebrate ^_^Produced by Jenny "Hibword" Hibberd.Contributing artists in order:00:05 Rhiannon Jayne Townsend01:05 Lulu Rose May02:30 Danni Spooner03:30 Asher X (Ash Er)04:41 Mellow Baku06:06 Amber Woods07:23 Rosa Fernandez08:23 Anatomy (Cynthia Rodríguez, Emily Rose Teece, Adrienne Jones, Leonie DuBarry-Gurr)09:24 Natalie Beech10:27 Punky Hoops (Rae Lloyd)11:27 Hib Word (Jenny Hibberd)13:18 Emily MerchantMusic credits: Erykah Badu – AppletreeTove Lo – Habits (Stay High) – Hippie Sabotage RemixOdesza – White Lies (Instrumental)Links:www.houseofverse.co.ukwww.facebook.com/thehouseofversewww.instagram.com/house_of_versewww.twitter.com/thehouseofverse

Posted by House of Verse on Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Produced by Jenny “Hibword” Hibberd.
Contributing artists in order:
00:05 Rhiannon Jayne Townsend
01:05 Lulu Rose May
02:30 Danni Spooner
03:30 Asher X
04:41 Mellow Baku
06:06 Amber Woods
07:23 Rosa Fernandez
08:23 ANATOMY (Cynthia Rodríguez, Emily Rose Teece, Adrienne Jones, Leonie DuBarry-Gurr)
09:24 Natalie Beech
10:27 Punky Hoops (Rae Lloyd)
11:27 Hib Word (Jenny Hibberd)
13:18 Emily Merchant

Music credits:
Erykah Badu – Appletree
Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High) – Hippie Sabotage Remix
Odesza – White Lies (Instrumental)

Links:
www.houseofverse.co.uk
www.facebook.com/thehouseofverse
www.instagram.com/house_of_verse
www.twitter.com/thehouseofverse

Continue Reading

Arts | Culture | Derby | Events | Gender | Leicester | Lifestyle | Mental Health | Nottingham | Race | Sexuality

Leicester Riot Grrrls

By on 23 August, 2016

635850213947912225-1257980412_rgworldlogo[1]

Leicester pretty much has everything: excellent food, lovely people from everywhere in the world, high-quality sports, and an ever-growing cultural scene. A significant chunk of this rise in arts, music, performance, spoken word and dance is not funded by the establishment, the government or big corporations. You can find these underground acts whispering in the corner of an open mic event at the pub or exploding on an improvised stage at an independent gallery. It could be considered punk in principles and D.I.Y. in aesthetic: if you want something to happen, make it happen in your own terms and flipping the bird at “gatekeepers”. If they don’t let you in the building, make a raucous party on the streets.

il_fullxfull.851438737_mzcd[1]

We would assume that, with such notches under its belt, Leicester would also have a social activist scene. People questioning authority on behalf of certain cultural groups, ethnic groups, gender groups, those who are often unheard or afraid to share their voices even in the independent cultural scene I love and praise so much. How many middle-class baby-booming white men have to spread themselves like Marmite all over workshops, open mics, performances and other events when they could easily knock the door on the BBC and get their own show any time? How many topics are avoided and unquestioned, experiences left unshared, injustices being ignored? For a start, where are the women? The young people, the queer, the unemployed and underemployed, the working class, the cry-myself-to-sleeps, the disabled, the large-and-unashamed, the anarchists?

Where are the Riot Grrrls?

It’s the same thing Gemma Wicks and Meri Everitt were wondering. There have been Riot Grrrl or Riot Grrrl-inspired communities in several cities and countries, either tangent or online, ever since the manifesto was released in 1991 on Bikini Kill’s zine; some of them expanding, updating and improving the lifestyle and the scope of who is allowed in and what to fight for. Today, intersectionalism is key, and all women are real women, all non-binaries are non-binaries. People are what people are. But at least nowadays, there wasn’t a movement like this one in Leicester.

s-l1000[1]

Leicester Riot Grrrls started as an idea on Facebook. It has its own closed group, a safe space to ask questions and help each other through sorority. There is now a public Facebook page where we share news, pictures and cute/enraging/edifying things. But what would a geographically-specific group be like without – gasp – human interaction?

The group meets ideally once a month. The first meeting was in July, upstairs at Firebug. It was quite successful and people came all the way from Nottingham and Derby to participate and maybe make something like this happen in their towns. So I guess we’re pioneers in the East Midlands? We had a bit of an open mic and I am amazed by the quality and passion of all the performers; some of them regulars in the local and regional circuits, some of them shy and terrified kids who had never done it in public. This is an excellent opportunity for them to practice, share, and keep doing things here, there and everywhere.

thejword

There are a few smaller groups within the group, and they each specialise in one kind of activity or project. The music jammers, the book club, the film club, the zinesters, and anything else that comes by. You’re all welcome to perform, share your writings and your readings.

The next Leicester Riot Grrrls meeting is on the 31st of August at Duffy’s, a very friendly Irish pub just around the corner from Firebug. If you want to be part of it, organise stuff and believe in the ideals, feel free to join! We’ll also be hanging out at that thing called Leicester Pride at Victoria Park on Saturday 3rd of September.

letskeeptalking

Continue Reading

Culture | Gender | Lifestyle | Nottingham | Poetry | Race | Sexuality | Spoken Word

Cutiepocking Notts Pride 2016

By on 26 July, 2016

nottspride

After Coventry Pride, and after all the gross stuff going on with the world, I felt it was my responsibility to get more involved with Pride and speak out as a member of the community. So, going the extra mile, I’ll be performing not once but TWICE at Notts Pride this year.

queerzinedeanatta

First, at the Mouthy Poets Queer Zine launch. The zine was conceived by Dean Atta at his Queer Poetry Masterclass, as a way to show the resulting exercises and similar material. It was a very fruitful experience, and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands. It features work by Atta, Alex Bond, Denise Dee, Petra Mijic, Neal Pike, Barbara Schaefer, Beccy Shore, Milla Tebbs, Joni Wildman and yours truly. The launch and readings will be at Lee Rosy’s Tea on Broad Street, 2:30pm. But please, be there from 1:30pm to enjoy the full Poetry Corner and see regular performers from Write Minds Wiff Waff.

qtipocalypse

Later, the end (or the beginning?) will be near at the QTIPOCALYPSE, an open mic for Queer Trans and Intersex-Identified People of Colour (or like you can pronounce the acronym, Cutiepock). It’s organised by QTIPOC Notts, a group that was just set up last November and aims to give space to people of colour with diverse genders and sexualities who may not feel comfortable in the average mainstream LGBT community. Allies are welcome to watch and listen. Hosted by the grand Dr Angela Martinez Dy, better known as El Día. It will be upstairs at Rough Trade Nottingham, also on Broad Street, 7pm.

So yeah, come to one. Or the other. Or both. I recommend both. Also, everything else at Notts Pride. Marching, listening to music, making music, looking at pretty things, getting pretty things, celebrating our identities and fighting for recognition with words and glitter.

Continue Reading

Film | Nottingham | Poems | Poetry

Film Haiku

By on 7 July, 2016
Image: Morgue File.
Image: Morgue File.

On Monday, I went to Nottingham for a workshop with Leanne Moden in preparation for the Words for Walls contest organised by Nottingham Uni. Since the workshop was hosted at Broadway Cinema, most of our freewriting exercises were film-centric. This was the first one: writing one or more haikus about some of our favourite films without mentioning their names and letting people guess. Here are mine, and now I will ask you to guess from each plot which films I’m talking about. Answers in the comments section, please. 

1.

He had just one job,
but his car proved that he was
a real human being.

2.

Village of the damned?
Get ready for these bad boys:
have a Cornetto.

3.

“Slicing up eyeballs”.
Pixies said what I had to.
Forgot piano.

4.

My voice for these legs,
alas life under the sea
was better than this.

5.

Back in our homeland,
sing “This Corrosion” to me.
All alien robots!

6.

“I did not hit her”.
“You are tearing me apart!”
Catch the football now.

Still angry about the state of the world, but here’s some light fun as a method of self-care. 🙂

Continue Reading

England | Europe | Poems | United Kingdom

Smiling in the Slaughterhouse

By on 27 June, 2016

A poem for those who think we should still be friends with fascists, specially if we’re from the demographic groups they hate the most.

Image: Eli Goldstone.
Image: Eli Goldstone.

No, don’t ask me to smile in the slaughterhouse,
kindest grin reflecting on the blade as it sinks
down my neck, through my throat, through my muscles and spine;
blood splattering the walls as you beg me to sing.

Save the smiles and the memories from yesterday
and put on your new glasses so you can see clear
that your kindest affections were all shallow and fake,
for you wish that my family drowns in the sea.

When you say “it’s not you who I’m talking about
but the Poles, and the Czech, and the Muslims and Paks”,
it just feels even more disturbing to find out
you categorise people using different ranks.

Ranks so voluble, soluble, flammable, foul-
-smelling, horrible, and mutating according to the nuclear
clock, its hands manually moved by those who want
to dictate who to hate, and you fall for the trap, you don’t

question intentions, do not offer protection,
you don’t search for real clues and your rage sways towards
anyone but the real traitors and great masturbators.
You don’t look at the finger, but at what it’s pointing at.

And it’s pointing at me, at them, at everyone,
he laughs at you in secret. Though you can hear him roar,
you pretend it’s an earthquake caused by vessels in hoards
that cannot simply wait to deflate at the shore.

You can’t go have a drink with a corpse you just stabbed
and you can’t kiss and punch at the same bloody time.
Can’t give someone a ride while your car drags away
after you obliged them to leave and don’t dare to come back.

I repeat, don’t ask me to smile in the slaughterhouse,
please stop holding my hand as you’re holding the knife.
Hearing my vertebrae crush after you behead me,
you may wonder if, actually, you have no spine.

Continue Reading

Arts | Coventry | Culture | Gender | Lifestyle | Sexuality | Zines

Coventry Pride 2016

By on 23 June, 2016

covpride

On Sunday, two ideas/stereotypes/internalised misconstructions were torn apart out of my mind forever: the idea that Pride festivals are now mainstream bacchanals far away from their original meanings, and the idea that Coventry died after the Blitz and that since then it’s been nothing but — The Specials dixit — a ghost town. Coventry is, in fact, more galvanised than ever, and Coventry Pride is queer in every sense of the word. Weird, open, beyond the norms.

covpride_crowd
Image: Coventry Pride.

Coventry Pride took place last Saturday and Sunday at FarGo Village, a comfortable hip area in Far Gosford Street recently devised as a creative hub where young and/or alternative people can hang out, exchange ideas and establish connections. It is a bit like a compact version of Leicester’s Cultural Quarter, but more focused on startups and independent stores. It seems pretty cosy, and offers anything from American sweets to books, comics, clothes and pop culture collectables. With a coffee shop and a tap house almost next to each other, I think I would spend a lot of my waking hours in this area if I lived in Coventry.

The most glamorous Dalek.
The most glamorous Dalek.

This is the second year in a row in which Coventry Pride takes place, last year being nominated as Best Live Event 2015 in Coventry Telegraph People’s Choice Awards. It is organised by people intensely active in the local LGBT+ community, a registered charity since October 2015, and it has kept organising events in preparation for every Pride all year long. I was originally invited to perform for ❤ Music, Hate Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in May, but times were complicated. It looks like it was an amazing event full of quality music, poetry and performance in general. Would love to go next time they do something like this.

Source: Sarah Beth.
Source: Sarah-Beth Gilbert.

On Sunday, I was part of the Spoken Word Open Mic event at the Urban Coffee. I was kindly invited by Jessamy Morris-Davis, organiser extraordinaire, whom I met thanks to Joe from Deathsex Bloodbath (heavily involved in the Coventry music scene) and his wonderful partner Sarah-Beth. We happen to share friends like Kerrie Sakura, who I finally got to meet that afternoon after ages of talking online; and apparently Joe also knows Charles Wheeler from the wrestling circuit. Small world! Small beautiful world!

Nim Chimpsky. Image: Andy McGeechan.
Nim Chimpsky. Image: Andy McGeechan.

Outside, we had the Phoenix Stage, with tons of mind-blowing queer music acts. Yes, even indie rock and electro noise. This was really, really important, since a lot of the times I’ve been in Pride festivals/LGBT+ events, the musical offer was rather one-dimensional: from ABBA tributes to busted Butlin’s “comedians” in drag to straight pop divas who recorded that one song about being yourself and treat the queer community as a cash cow. Stagey McStageface in the Market Hall had more cheesy pop/mainstream acts, but it was not everything the festival had to offer, as it happens in other festivals in bigger cities. This one recognised the possibilities of noise/experimental music as the epitome of all things queer beyond the “that sounds gay” label. I performed in the small silence gap between Duck Thieves and Nim Chimpsky. CHECK THEM OUT, NOW.

Duck Thieves! Image: Andy McGeechan.
Duck Thieves! Image: Andy McGeechan.

While we’re at it, please, please, please read “Noise Music as Queer Expression” by K Surkan. Print it, download it, read it on the bus, highlight stuff on it, share it, shout it.

Image: Andy McGeechan.
Image: Andy McGeechan.

Another thing I adored about the festival was its inclusiveness, its grassroots and its DIY ethos. As I’ve said before, the organisers were queer themselves and way beyond the White Gay Man with Disposable Income. Trans, Lesbian, Bi/Pan and Non-Binary folks crafted this with so much love and dedication you could feel it. On Saturday, there was a Body Positive Catwalk and I’m really gutted I missed it. People of different abilities and identities were very welcome and felt like home. As everything was at a ground level, it was wheelchair friendly, and since FarGo is so compact, people didn’t have to walk/run/rush/be dragged from one extreme to another to get to the next event. It was not crowded and it was not overwhelming; and if it was, you could go to the Info room and relax on the couch. And no, this Pride was not brought to you by Absolut Vodka, and you would not untuck in the Interior Illussions lounge.

Trans goth pride. Image: Andy McGeechan.
Trans goth pride. Image: Andy McGeechan.

(I’m still as obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race as usual but hey! The indier, the better!)

The community and info stalls — or what I managed to see from them on Sunday — were welcoming and friendly, with leaflets and material for queers and allies alike; offering help for old people, young people, people with disabilities, people of faith, victims/survivors of abuse, or even just having a laugh at the Lady Go-Diva Comedy Stage.

Gizmo Pride.
Gizmo Pride.

This event was so exciting it inspires me to get more involved in all things queer and underground. I’m tired of being read as straight just because I happened to fall in love with a dude (someone I adore regardless of gender) and it feels a bit lonely sometimes. The Coventry queer arts community seems warm, friendly and united; and I would love to keep attending their events and even just hanging out with my mates over there. If Leicester Pride were something like this, back to its roots, less corporate and more connected to punk and DIY (a bit like Anerki, but more queer-focused and with a lot more indie stalls), it would be perfect.

Continue Reading

England | Marseille | Orlando | Poems | Portfolio | Russia | Spoken Word | United States

Craig David

By on 16 June, 2016

craig_david

Almost as read (slightly mended) at Find the Right Words last night, 15 June 2016. Includes references to sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, fatphobia, racism, manipulation, and a bit of self-harm and suicidal idealisations; all in connection to horrible current events. Plus, a few swearsies in Spanish.

This week
has been like a rubbish
Craig David song.
Every side of my identity
has been attacked,
vivisected,
out loud
and in silence.

christina_grimmie

On Friday,
a young voice was cut dry
by an obsessive fan
who dragged her along to his grave;
the 100 virgins of Valhalla
concentrated in one small girl
with a roar of thunder inside.
The female Dimebag Darrell of pop,
the female Dimebag Darrell,
the female,
whose crime
was to become famous.
“If she sang just in the shower”,
the purists say,
“and not online,
she’d still be around”.
Singing,
quietly,
offline,
at home.

russian_hooligans

On Saturday,
the ultras from a wounded
mother land,
factories dismantled by capitalism,
the lover that split countries
and blocks apart,
aimed to flare us into disruption.
“May your divorce be as gruesome as ours”,
they charged into us, the horses.
“May your star fade away
in your constellation”.
In the eyes, the tear gas eyes, of the police,
when the victim fights back
against the bully,
the victim becomes the bully.
The hooligan,
as usual.
“If those drunk gits
stayed at home,
mouths shut,
jazz hands for every goal,
in England, in their own country,
this wouldn’t have happened.
Guess who’s not having a party.

orlando_pulse

On Sunday,
shots through the stomach,
nails on every limb:
Queer bar,
Latin night,
“callense el hocico, putos”,
was the shout,
but in English;
none of this “Allahu Akbar”
the same people who hate you,
hate me,
swear they heard all the way
to their Hamptons cottage.
Some of the dead
had previously died
when their parents said
“you’re dead to me”.
Wish granted, mami and papi,
now shove that lamp up your arse.
I may just be a greedy pig to you,
and maybe you read me as part of the norm,
but my head still hurts
from all the panic and crying.
Mis tios, tus tios,
all caps on newspaper message boards:
“si no anduvieran de jotitos
y se quedaran en casa,
calladitos,
casaditos y con hijos,
seguirian con nosotros
y no ardiendo en el infierno”.
(this is why I don’t talk to them)

jaime_bronco

Don’t get me started on Monday:
back in my other house,
our independent,
super punk,
vaporwave governor,
quoted as saying
“nobody likes fat girls”.
Set ablaze for bodyshaming,
he dug a deeper hole in the ground
and made his point clearer,
more hateful:
“I didn’t mean ‘the obese’,
I meant teenage girls who get pregnant:
nobody likes them,
baby daddies leave”.
I swear
to the Virgin of Guadalupe,
that if I were a teen mum,
after all this neverending rain of dung,
I would have hung myself
from a Job Centre sign.

murdoch_beleave

No time to put that rope away
back in that chest in the attic:
as, on Tuesday,
the only bloody foreigner who should get deported
(if he lived here in the first place),
obliged the masses to change their minds
and give away their rights,
your rights,
our rights,
because he’s a nobody in Belgium.
Because
he is
a nobody,
he wants us to feel
like nobodies.
And sometimes,
unfortunately,
it works.
It nearly worked for me
enough to take the knives out of the cupboard
but I didn’t want to
clean up the mess afterwards.
So instead, I took out my pen
and bled red ink all over the paper.
Please:
let’s go and party,
let’s stay and shout,
let’s stay together
and hope
for a better Wednesday.

castrolove

And then, of course, on Thursday (today) a Labour MP was a victim of a terrorist Britain First attack. I could expand this poem forever. Please, make it stop.

Continue Reading

Afghanistan | Braunschweig | Germany | Internet | Nottingham | Poetry | South Africa

Rediscover Communication II: Restless Pens and Foreign Tongues

By on 9 June, 2016

13177603_994019397360432_7223197157003744156_n[1]

Last Bank Holiday, the lovely peeps at Mouthy Poets organised Restless Pens & Foreign Tongues, a workshop/open mic as part of Neat Festival and held at Nonsuch Theatre. The month-long festival, based in Nottingham, aims to bring and create interactions in arts and performance within an international context, particularly in the relationship of Britain as part of Europe.

The workshop was led by Melanie Irmey, member of the German collective Loewenmaul and based in Nottingham while she worked with Mouthy Poets for a few months. From the local corner, Chris McLoughlin facilitated the workshop too, and inspired us to write, read and share.

The idea was to explore the complexities and connections of the spoken language, not only in English but — preferably, rather — in other tongues, native, learned or even unknown. Sounds, ideas, new names for old feelings, old words for new images.

Even the WiFi is international at N_Space. :P
Even the WiFi is international at N_Space. 😛

It didn’t mean you had to know another language, but that you had to be willing to know, or even guess one or another. The vast majority of the students only knew English and whatever they could remember from holidays and GCSEs. Leanne Moden, a marvelous writer and pivotal part of poetry in the East Midlands, says she only speaks “English and Bad English”; yet that was certainly not an obstacle. There were a couple of Afghan boys in the beginning, alas they were a bit intimidated and left within an hour. It’s a shame, because it would have been beautiful to listen to their words.

Exploration was key. We were encouraged to describe pictures and concepts in our own language, borrow other people’s, incorporate their words into our work, take fragments of our work and translate them into dialects we had never heard before thanks to the imperfect powers of Google Translate.

loewenmaul_skype

Later, the magic of technology took our interactions to the next level. Thanks to Skype, we held an open mic for and from the members of Loewenmaul all the way to Braunschweig. Through a massive projection on the wall, the poets shared collective and individual pieces in German, English or both. Albeit my knowledge of German comes mostly from hilarious Rammstein song titles (“You Smell So Good“, anyone?) and the most metal egg-free cookies recipe ever, the sentences were strong and powerful. There was one, shoulders naked, who proclaimed something quite immense about how — paraphrasing — “your mother is dead, but she was never alive in the first place”. If any Loewenmaulers could share her name and, in fact, the names of all the lovely performers, it would be majestic.

loewenmaul_chrismcloughlin

Then, from our side, works in English and more. Moden scuba diving into Icelandic, me trolling everyone with Mexican pop culture in Spanish, and this badass South African dude named Pete — again, share name and more work, please — shared an Afrikaans account on the current situation in his country. He later read the English translation, but even the original writing was engaging enough.

That’s what I mean with rediscovering communication. In the end, the words stop needing translation. We sort of develop internal devices like the ones from Stark Trek or Mass Effect, even environmentally-controlled programmes like the one from the TARDIS, and we speak the language of the world and the world speaks our language.

A lot of the people who want to close borders, a lot of the people who want to leave the community, don’t even bother understanding their motherland tongues.

Continue Reading

England | Events | Germany | Language | Leicester | Lifestyle | Literature | Nottingham | Pakistan

Rediscover Communication I: Anerki in the Cellophane

By on 6 June, 2016

These weeks, I have been thinking and experiencing tons of stuff related to bilingual/multilingual communication in arts. Particularly, in writing and sharing words.

Códice Florentino.
Códice Florentino.

Growing up, I always took for granted the fact that I learned English. I had to do it, we had to do it, if we wanted to “be someone” in the world. If we wanted to travel, trade, enjoy entertainment, even save lives with whatever medicine people read on academic and research journals. The older generations in my family didn’t have this pressure on them as the urge of globalisation wasn’t that intense in their youth, so whenever I or my cousins/nieces/nephews of my generation or younger had to learn English at school, sing songs in English or make assembly presentations in English, it would be considered a massive feat. “Oye, que Cynthia anda estudiando maestría… ¡y en inglés!”. But it was never an achievement to us Mexican “millenials” (excuse me, willenials). It was something we just had to do. Like maths. Like operating a computer — another Herculean adventure on its own through the eyes of our parents, but that’s for another post.

Now in England, I have been met with the same awe not only for my ability to learn and communicate fluently in Orwell’s tongue, but for the fact that my first language is not English. They see it as a goldmine of knowledge, a secret code, the keys to a world apart from this one. Due to postcolonial preconceptions being spread through every government department — education included —, a lot of English people old and young never learned another language. At best, they took French or German for their GCSEs and forgot any foreign lexicon once they went to university or joined the workforce. When I started taking Spoken Word more seriously, they told me to share something in Spanish. For the musicality of it, for the beauty and strength of it, and perhaps, in the same way a lot of us honed our English skills through F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episodes and Radiohead songs, to catch a bit of it like flu or anthrax.

anerki-logo

I finally pleased them at the ninth edition of Anerki, that beautiful evening proud of showcasing the best in underground arts in Leicester. Music, dance, mesmerising visual arts, spoken word and stand-up comedy, just to mention a few examples of what you could find on that soirée at The Font. The fabulous Kish aka Zeropence had been excitedly telling me for months to bring something in Spanish, as people set the roof on fire when they see things performed in another language. And I did it because I felt safe. In other areas of the country, you would be met with pale bald tomatoes shouting “English, motherfucker, do you speak it?” like vegetable versions of Samuel L. Jackson. But hey! This is Leicester! We kicked out the EDL and we did the same to Britain First TWICE. So I went waaaay beyond the comfort zone and did something I had never ever done in my 30 years of grazing the Earth.

I fucking rapped.

anerki-skype
Despite all my rage, I’m still just reading lyrics. Still via Elliott Izzard.

And it was hot! People shouting, dancing and clapping, jaws dropping as that cute chubby lady with the Street Fighter necklace was dropping bars or whatever kids today call them. They possibly had no idea what I was talking about, but journalist Terry Mardi said “they felt it”. I also did some artsy Spanglish shit called “Sk*pe”, where I tried to reinterpret “O Superman” by Laurie Anderson and “Mother Mother” by Tracy Bonham and adapt it to contemporary times. It’s on the footage section, for the bold. Like the new layout, by the way?

12072794_10154085075664703_2444316930737502350_n[1]

If you missed it, I’ll be doing it again on the 18th of June at LCB Depot, as part of Anerki X. This will be an extra special one, on par with the exhibition The Art of Crass, curated by Sean Clark. The main act this evening will be Crass co-founder Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life. Quite an honour to be shouting strange words at people who master the art of shouting strange words. Punk icons. Stick around all day at DIY-related events, workshops and fun for all ages.

Before that this Friday 10th of June, same place and same group of people, will be a spoken word special where a few of us read and recite stuff opening for Crass members Penny Rimbaud, Louise Elliott and Eve Libertine’s Cobblestones of Love, a lyrical rewrite of Yes, Sir, I Will. There will be a barbecue too. Come for the food, stay for the art and words.

(BTW, I got the idea for this title from Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep, a surreal film that was pretty much based on communication breakdown in general. For instance, Duck Ellington.)

Continue Reading