Blog by Young Writer SJ Herbertson.
Toonspeak recently teamed up their young writers group Word of Mouth with Sonnet Youth for the second installment of Sonnet Youth² in Stereo.
Word of Mouth is a project that Toonspeak have been running for a number of years, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the gang last year. It’s such a great project to be involved in as everyone is so lovely and most of the time I just sat in awe at how talented everyone was. Us young writers have weekly sessions at Toonspeak starting off with masterclasses with different types of writers and then 10 weeks developing our own work with author Cathy Forde who we all love. Cat from Sonnet Youth also comes in to the sessions at the end to focus on performance skills in the run up to the event. Sonnet Youth host the events and also curate professional spoken word acts.
A bit about our hosts
Cat is an award-winning script writer, spoken word artist and writing mentor based in Glasgow, who has written a variety of work for stage and screen who has recently been billed on the 6 Music Festival! Along with Cat we would usually have Kev as co-host, but unfortunately for us he is away living it up in Barcelona. We were sad to miss him, but guest host Leyla Josephine did a fabulous job. Leyla is a writer and performance poet who has performed as far as Tokyo, New York and New Zealand who has won various slams not to mention Loud Poets most recently, and is soon off to Prague to compete.
(Hosts Cat Hepburn and Leyla Josephine)
So how did the night go?
Cat kicked off the night with her poem, ‘To The Lassies’, this is one of my favourite pieces of spoken word written by Cat, which highlights how today’s society has certain expectations on women, how social media is having a negative impact on female body image but more importantly how we should empower each other.
Then we had singer/songwriter Ernesto Fernandez, who performed a spoken word piece and an acoustic set. This was followed with spoken word performances by Stephanie Love and David McMahon, all from our Word of Mouth group.
I had the pleasure of working alongside these three at Word of Mouth. Ernesto is multi-talented, I loved the spoken word piece he wrote about his dad, it was very powerful and when he performed his acoustic set he reminded me of a young Bob Dylan. Stephanie’s piece “The Ugly Friend” was about constantly being the ‘wing man’ for your friends on nights out, had me in hysterics (also because I have stunning pals and I’m a solid 3 myself, I found this very relate-able). After Stephanie was the hilarious David (who I have advised should start stand up comedy) who had the audience laughing with two spoken word performances, one which highlighted there is not always good karma for being a good Samaritan (especially towards strangers at the bus stop) and how driving is with a parent as the passenger.
Next a script written by Chloe Davidson performed by Chloe herself, David McMahon and Callum Bell. Chloe’s script starts off with a girl in a cafe (Chloe) being pestered by a chauvinistic pain in the butt (Callum), then enters the trusty mate who poses as the girl’s husband (David) to save the day. It then becomes very clear there is ‘history’ between the girl and her mate. I loved this script because there is a major ‘will they wont they’ plot twist (I wont give it away, don’t worry).
(David McMahon, Chloe Davidson and Callum Bell)
The first of Sonnet Youth’s curated acts was Declan Welsh, self proclaimed “kitchen sink troubadour, agitprop frontman” and now performance poet. This was the first time I had seen Declan perform and absolutely loved his set! Was the perfect way to close the first half of the night.
There was a brief interval with good food and good chat, which provided the opportunity for audience members to interact with the hosts, the young people and the professional artists. Plus I got to catch up with my Word of Mouth buddies.
The second act of the night kicked off with a performance by guest host Leyla Josephine. This was followed by performances from Moki Graham and Erin Boyle from Word of Mouth.
Leyla performed her poem “Skincare” which made me realise I should never spend 20 minutes a day washing my face and I should embrace getting older and live life fully (words to live by!).
Moki (in tribute to Loki) performed three amazing spoken word pieces, my personal favourite was the one about “Winching” as PDA also irritates me too haha. After Moki Erin performed. I always look forward to Erin’s performances and absolutely love them. Being the youngest of the group she always blows me away, and proved at Stereo she is a performer that can do both in terms of highlighting relevant political issues in today’s society and perform lighthearted, comical pieces.
Next up another of Sonnet Youth’s curated acts Victoria McNulty, whose work has been circulated by BBC The Social and The High Flight and is also the current Sonnet Youth Slam champion. Some of Victoria’s pieces were hard hitting in terms of relevance to today’s politics, however I particularly loved her hilarious piece when you meet a “wrong yin” down the pub.
Victoria was followed by Word of Mouth young writer Thomas Nevitt, who performed an eye opening piece about autism, which made an impact on the audience and raised awareness on living with autism. Despite highlighting some of the things a person living with autism may go through, Thomas was genius in delivering the piece in a certain way using humour in just the right places.
The evening culminated with a performance by Loki (Darren McGarvey) the Scottish Rapper. Loki’s performance could be described as R-rated with a few “C” bombs being thrown about, but all in context of a character. As a performer he is fearless and has no issue with being controversial, which I think made a powerful impact on the young people seeing someone perform this way. He talked through the process making his new work and even offered everyone in the audience his whole back catalogue! They all loved his performance, especially Moki who he name dropped during his set. A great act to close the night with.
Overall the night was a resounding success! This amazing bunch did it again! The audience was really diverse in terms of young people and public audience. So many positive comments, everyone seemed to leave having really enjoyed it and appreciated the experience.
We are pleased to announce that the next Sonnet Youth² will be on Monday April 24th with 3 curated acts and a host of our young writers on stage in Stereo. Hope to see you there.
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