Birmingham – in the larger spoken word scene doesn’t seem to get picked up. I don’t know if BBC are too lazy to get on a 2 hour train or if they just don’t know that we exist. Sometimes it feels like outside of Birmingham, us brummies’ walk around like “hey, hey, we here too!”
Maybe I am exaggerating a teeny bit but it sometimes feels like the big boys (and girls) are just glancing over Birmingham. So to celebrate National Poetry Day here are 10 brummie poets – in no particular order – that you should be listening to, booking, and getting to know:
1. Najité Phoenix
Najité is a creative writer, speaker, youth leadership facilitator and all around lover of personal freedom. Her current mission is to help transform of our education system, initiate new & progressive ways of thinking and inspire others to embark on a professional path that incorporates passion, presence and purpose.
2. Casey Bailey
Casey Bailey is a spoken word poet and rapper from Birmingham. Poetry style is literal and lyrical, touching on a number of different subjects, from growing up in inner city Birmingham to world events. These subjects are tackled with a combination of straight talk and humour.
3. Raza Hussain
Raza Hussain, also known as Wuzzamill, is a spoken word artist, singer and rapper from Birmingham, shining through the UK scene. He is also one of the 6 Birmingham BBC 1Xtra Finalists for Words First.
4. Nafeesa Hamid
Straight up one of the best spoken word artists and poets in the country right now. Nafessa’s poetry is straight from the soul and hits you hard with each intricately written line. Nafeesa currently runs her own spoken word night ‘Twisted Tounges’ in Derby.
5. Leon Priestnall
For the past 2 years Leon has been performing at poetry nights across Birmingham. Beatfreeks’ Poetry Jam held at the Java Lounge, is one of Leon’s favourite places to perform: “Everything that’s beautiful about spoken word exists in that night. It’s the poets of the city coming out and expressing themselves…It’s where I cut my teeth as a poet.”
6. Jordanne Renee
Jordanne Renee is a furiously brummie poet . She is a multipotential-lite, intersectional feminist, and avid tea drinker – sometimes this allows her to make things.
7. Kamil Kamikazi
Kamil is a spoken word and visual artist who’s work explores activism, the Muslim/Pakistani diaspora, politics as well as the narratives of the often overlooked and unheard. He currently facilitates poetry workshops for the KCL Disability Awareness Society.
8. Chakra Man
Chakra Man, also known as ‘Deci4Life’ uses his words to challenge young people’s identities and perceptions of how they are valued today. He works with a lot of young people in the local community through workshops, creative projects and also works in schools.
9. Aliyah Holder
Recently tearing it up at TEDxBrum and producing At What Cost, Aliyah is one of the most exciting – up and coming spoken word poets in the UK. Incredible wordplay, searing intelligence and a style that can seamlessly mix a biting wit with political commentary.
Some call her the UK’s Lauryn Hill, others call her the female Ed Sheeran; but you should know her as Elektric. Elektric fuses R&B, indie and hip-hop – telling stories through a British melodic rap-songwriter style.
But that’s only a shortlist of 10, you must pop into Birmingham’s poetry nights (including Poetry Jam) to see even more talent!
“I have been doing spoken word for around 6 years now, open mics, commissions, event producing, facilitation and the bits in between. I’ve done some ‘off work’ in my time but nothing for the sake of doing it, I’ve always found a link, sometimes tenuous but still a link for me to align my values with it.”