Talented poets have the Last Word at the Roundhouse

Caleb Femi launches his pamphlet Aunty Uncle Pomes at The Last Word Festival

Caleb Femi launches his pamphlet Aunty Uncle Poems at The Last Word Festival - Credit: Supplied

A podcast recording, spoken word performance, and the ever popular poetry slam final are on the bill for The Roundhouse's Last Word Festival

With a mix of the live and the virtual, the week-long event marks the reopening of the Chalk Farm venue, and performers include poet and director Caleb Femi, former poetry slam champion Adam Kammerling and young people's laureate for London Cecilia Knapp.

Roundhouse managers said it was the "perfect way to welcome audiences back," albeit socially distanced and wearing masks. Senior producer Jack Prideaux, said: "With days to go until we reopen our doors, the excitement is building. As we re-emerge from the last year and a half, there’s no doubt that the vital stories and perspectives that make the festival what it is will resonate in a unique way."

Theresa Lola performs at The Last Word Festival at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm

Theresa Lola performs at The Last Word Festival at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm - Credit: Supplied

On July 24, 2020 New Poets Prizewinner Gboyega Odubanjo is joined by Femi for a night of words and live music as he launches his pamphlet Aunty Uncle Poems - a Nigerian celebration of the aunties uncles and cousins for whom London has become home.

The slam Final on July 29 is judged by writer/performer Travis Alabanza, previous champion Zia Ahmed, and Candice Carty-Williams as artists who made it through nationwide heats put their original work to the test to win a cash prize, and audiences both live and at home cast their vote for a favourite.

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On July 31, Nigerian British poet and playwright Yomi Sode records his podcast First Five, featuring guest Hannah Azieb Pool, current CEO of Tottenham's Bernie Grant Arts Centre. The Islington resident explains that he ask guests about "the first two albums they remember purchasing, the first two books they remember reading, and one person who made them feel they could do what they do now."

Fresh from the acclaimed Almeida production of his work and breathe about the death of a beloved matriarch, Sode adds: "I invite faces that I am inspired by, be they actor, writer or director. We play a song from one of the albums or read a snippet from the books but literature is the base."

Hannah Azieb Pool is in conversation with Yomi Sode as part of his First Five podcast

Hannah Azieb Pool is in conversation with Yomi Sode as part of his First Five podcast - Credit: Supplied

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Sode, who started his own spoken word event in 2012 at Boxpark Shoreditch, performed his one man show COAT at the festival in 2017 exploring immigration, identity and displacement. He praises The Roundhouse for providing a space where "diverse different voices" can offer their perspective even when "people might not be as willing to hear."   

"The England football team now have such a voice and are saying to Government 'we are not going to be like the generations before, we have a voice as well as having a skill on the field'.

"The Roundhouse constantly pushes against the grain to a point where we might feel uncomfortable, but these brave voices speaking loud are going to be important in years to come."

On July 31 Barbershop Chronicles playwright Inua Ellams brings Search Party, his unique audience-led poetry event which invites people to pick a word and he will perform a spontaneous selection from his repertoire.

For digital audiences Kammerling shares his poetry and dance piece Seder examining intergenerational trauma and rituals through the annual Jewish custom. And Magdalene Abraha (Jacaranda Books) and Tallulah Lyons (#Merky Books) join the online panel talk for 18-25 year-olds, How To Get Published.

Adam Kammerling performs Seder online at the Last Word Festival

Adam Kammerling performs Seder online at the Last Word Festival - Credit: Supplied

The Last Word Festival runs July 26-31.


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