the foundations of oppression can't be plucked up without the anger of a multitude

Hammer and Tongue Hackney Tuesday January 3rd

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Kicking off the new year in some style, Hammer & Tongue hosts two Hackney born poets on the first Tuesday in 2012. The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Road, Dalston. E8 3AS 7-11pm

Zena Edwards: Hackney born, Tottenham bred, Zena is ‘one of London’s most unique voices’ – fusing jazzy hiphop and African instrumentation as a soundtrack to words that have shared stages with (and very much held their own) likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Roger McGough and Lemn Sissay.

Jonny Fluffypunk: Hackney born, Buckinghamshire rasied, Jonny quit the home countires for a life as a wandering poet and voice for anarchy, peace and bicycles. Now with added surreal reminiscence and twisted autobiography, Jonny has been dragging his glorious bag of poems, stories, off-kilter banter and mysterious ‘other stuff’ around the UK performance poetry and alternative cabaret circuits for over 10 years.

Plus open mic slam for chance to win place in 2012’s final and the incomparable DJ Xahdrez. All for £5/4. Bargain!


Written by angrysampoetry

January 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

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  1. Hammer & Tongue is the biggest promoter of live literature and slam poetry in the UK, and is becoming renowned for putting on some of the best nights around. They regularly provide a platform for now well known poets and artists like Dizraeli, Tim Clare and Kate Tempest, while always championing the cause of poetry as an accessible art for everybody, running work-shops in schools, and covering more and more areas as time goes on. Hammer & Tongue is expanding!
    Last night I went to The Victoria in Dalston and asked a man with a very impressive moustache where I might find Angry Sam, organiser and host of Hammer & Tongue’s Hackney branch. The Victoria is a nice east London pub with snooker tables and a 150 capacity performance area. I’m told it’s quite hip; and last night it was wandering poet Jonny Fluffypunk and Hackney regular Zena Edwards leading a relaxed and inspiring night of poetry fused with songs and even the odd joke. Not like poetry class in school at all, and perfect tonic for the January blues. A highlight for me was Jonny Fluffypunk’s short and to the point ‘Bus Ride in Pakistan’, adding to the thrill was always the idea that these were true stories. In fact the funny and autobiographical introductions to all of his poems made his set a real treat. It was poetry without any kind of ‘stuffiness’ or snobbery, and I thought it supported well the aims of Hammer and Tongue, taking poetry forward as something we can all relate to, brought funny and unlikely references into art, and gave ‘ordinary people’ the courage to express themselves and perform their own work.
    There were eight open mike acts participating in the slam. As a total ‘slam virgin’ (and not the only one, I’ll add) I’d no idea what to expect, and suddenly found myself sat at a large table with a booklet of numbers intended for the audience judging of the acts. This I took to a little too generously perhaps (you get booed if you’re too harsh) and all five judges’ scores are added up to decide the winner of the slam. Last night it was Lionheart who most impressed, with his well spoken piece about love and social perceptions. Relationships seemed to be a strong theme in general actually, with verses celebrating the sublime spiritual highs of being in love alongside those dedicated to the rousing qualities of a decent morning coffee. We can look forward to seeing Lionheart again in the Hackney finals which take place in July. Each set was three minutes long, and the acts were varied and of surprisingly high quality, given that anybody can come along on the night and sign up. All performers were dead keen and confident, with high energy, and the atmosphere was strong despite the slightly poor January turn out.

    After the slam we’d a few more poems each from Jonny Fluffypunk and Zena Edwards, and a good natured debate about why ‘Sex is what’s wrong with the world’ prompted by Zena Edwards’ final piece. The fact that the set was interrupted in this manner didn’t stike me as unusual at the time, but perhaps it is. I’m not sure what the boundaries usually are at such events, but it was pointed out to me that this kind of thing would not go down at another kind of gig, music for example. The audience would quietly accept the lyrics, or else maybe throw something at the stage. I’m not suggesting we physically attack our performers – certainly not – but it is interesting to note the variety of reactions at gigs and in particular slams. The whole set up of the slam is something which changes the nature of the performance. Some of the poets aimed to stand out more and impress the audience. It’s hard to say what the performances would have been like without the added element of competition, and I imagine we’d have lost the vaguely pantomime feel and audience involvement which made the night that bit more fun. Call it the X-Factor of spoken word if you like, not sure what the organisers would make of that, mind.

    It’s a really great night out for a fiver, and wonderful motivation if you feel you’ve got poems dying to be performed. Sign up early and prepare to be inspired!
    Slam nights are on at The Victoria on the first Tuesday of each month, and if you can’t wait that long, check out Hammer & Tongue’s website for regular gigs in London and nationwide.

    Nadia Youssef


    January 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

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