I found myself swimming around an absolutely full-to-the-brim Rough Trade. There were loads of books and goodies on a stall from the fabulous Mud Press, charity buckets, and a performance space spilling out into the bar. When I finally managed to elbow my way in to get an earful of the good stuff, I realised I hadn’t made it in time to see Emteaz Hussain. A massive shame. I’ve heard some amazing things about her. The wonderfully funny Orla Shortall was hosting the event, and the first act I clocked was Michelle Mother Hubbard of Blackdrop.
Every time I’ve seen Michelle Mother Hubbard, I’ve heard her amazing modern day take on Jack and the Beanstalk, where the beanstalk is transformed into a weed plant growing on the street in St. Ann’s. This time, her set was filled with rhythmic rhymes exploring body image and loving yourself from your feet to your boobs. All this, as well as some heartwarming poetic stories about her life, including ending up in court after helping a neighbour handle a dispute involving domestic violence.
Leanne Moden was next up to host, and started with a poem about a red dress, exploring what women want and how they feel about themselves. The metaphor game was strong here. Shortly after, Rose of POW Nottingham came up on stage to give us a rundown of their charitable work with sex workers. From handing out condoms and food in the red light district, to outreach programs in people’s homes, and the POW premises facilities that offer sexual health screenings and support.
The clinking of coins in the buckets that night were all going towards Nottingham Rape Crisis Centre as well as POW, whose book Hello I’m Here was on sale too – all material written by their service users and at just five quid, all the money going to their cause.
The last headline act of the night was the fabulous Panya Banjoko AKA Panya the Poet. She started out her set by telling us all she was feeling a bit emotional as it was period time, and she'd found herself crying at an Andrex advert earlier that day. It really was a sign of how comfortable and accepting the space was that DIY Poets had created, and a kick-off that left every woman knowingly grinning from ear to ear.
After a sick chicken impression, Panya fired through densely packed imagery and metaphors that made hairs stand on end. From the ‘smell of false teeth’ to feeling the vast difference in weight between yourself and another, it was impossible not to let out hums of approval. Along with a poem about a devious magpie, there were some uncomfortable and harrowing truths about losing hope, until she finally landed on a poem narrating an awful experience of being picked on as a black woman when travelling through airport security.
A lively open mic with some fresh talent concluded the evening, its popularity speaking volumes about the amount of stuff women have got to say… and how damn good it is, too. We ain’t quietening down any time soon.
Women Say Stuff took place at Rough Trade on Tuesday 8 March, International Women’s Day.
DIY Poets website