The cosy, humble size of our city boasts the benefit of a tightly interwoven community – mooch on down to just one open mic or slam, and you’re guaranteed to see a familiar face the next time you indulge in some local poetry.
Whether a fully-formed stage connoisseur, or a fledgling 2AM bedroom writer, these events and their attendees will have, and hold, a space for you.
Despite some showcases making the brave conquest into the digital world for the last five months, the verbal landscape has been awfully quiet since lockdown began.
So, to fill the gap, here’s a rundown of some fast up-and-comers you may not have caught wind of yet.
AFLO. the poet
If you’ve attended recent marches in the city, you’ll have seen her: megaphone in hand, voice steady and earnest. With less than a year and a half of performance experience under her belt, AFLO. the poet is an immediate fish in water. Employing both intellectual and empathetic facility, she combines a steadfast political compass with a tangible sense of love, protection, and growth.
Covering subject matter such as mental health, consent, and the gross misrepresentation of articulate Black women as ‘aggressive’, ALFO. the poet’s communicative abilities don’t stop there. Her recent Assata Shakur-inspired piece, which has collected momentum through protest, is both a folk mantra, and an important piece of current-event documentation:
“It is our duty to stand up for anti-racism.
It is our duty to do this every day.
It is our duty to fight for racial justice.
And it is our duty to win.
We are stronger together.
We are here with love, peace and solidarity.
We have nothing to lose, too many have already lost too much.”
Another new face in the community, Matt Alton has received a well-deserved enthusiastic response since beginning to write and perform just last autumn. His spiritual inclination is palpable: Matt’s words are pure, sentimental, and extremely human.
With the eloquence of a life-long practitioner, Alton’s words are sensory and all-consuming, both on and off the page. When blessed with the privilege of a live performance, the sounds roll out of his mouth as if chewed and tasted. When reading, the placement of his line breaks alone is enough to make your heart drop. His ability to write youth is especially noteworthy, capturing and revitalising a long-forgotten sense of innocence, and the looming turmoil of puberty.
He has just self-published his first pamphlet, available through social media contact.
Pertinent and powerful, Mithago Craze has all the hallmarks of a spoken word poet. Her voice is melodic, her timing impeccable: consistently leaving audiences with goosebumps and dropped jaws. A master of holding your attention, she is both still and animated, all at once. This all culminates into a poet perfectly poised to impress at slams: she’s represented Sussex at UniSlam two years in a row, and placed runner-up in the annual regional final of Hammer & Tongue.
Her spoken word is both emotional and grounded in the facts, moulding contemporary social and personal questions together with classical, biblical, and literary references. Mithago Craze is truly a force of nature: get your ticket-buying fingers at the ready if you see her on a lineup – she is one not to be missed.