Listen to a sample of the #VoiceVersePower from our February intensive course at the Stephen Lawrence Centre below:
Tracks by: Adam, Saif, Umaru, Katie, Kafalat, Annie, Sai
WHERE I COME FROM
I am always asked where I come from and in turn I write the same old reply,
that unfortunately I cannot explain my origin on one dotted line ....
You see I was christened as Rockson, a name formulated in England,
yet found illuminated off the golden shores of West Africa,
Reclaimed to give a lineage of power
despite being tarnished with a foreigners tongue,
Yes I was born of a rock,
whose hopeful parents carved an imagination
designed to knock the archaic boundaries that had been built around me,
who prophesied a transcending of identities with an everlasting strength and tenacity,
so don’t take this the wrong way when I say that I’m in fact the definition of hard.
I come from a conundrum, the indescribable, everything yet nothing,
born into a world that seeks to understand the intangible
so I’m confined behind simplistic lines,
I’m a prisoner of the human mind and a slave to my emotions,
I love and hate at the same time,
but refuse to remain shackled in the bitter taste of resentment
built up inside from a life too long ago to even remember.
I’m a fighter and defender.
I come from False Evidence Appearing Real,
that whimsically whispers words of doubt and washes waves of worry over me.
I come from trying not to drown,
through rebuilding a society seething with anger,
yet seductively silenced from a diet of salacious headlines,
pacified by ignorance,
but I choose to uprise.
And if you specifically mean my place of residence,
well then I come from the crux of the industrial and agricultural,
where concrete jungles and blazing cornfields are linear,
where natures creation makes mans look inferior.
I come from encouraging smiles and warm meals on the table
and hardwork enveloped in lullabys of laughter to get through the hard times,
I come from lazy days of soulful grooves
soaked in the swagger of Aaliyah and the flow of Timbaland and Misdemeanour.
But more importantly I come from your limitations,
your defamations, your quick assumptions and expectations
so I hope when you receive this application I won’t be declined
because I can’t write where I come from on the dotted line.
© Annie Rockson
How would you feel if you were a slave,
Unable to choose how you spent your days?
Made to think that your life belonged to someone else,
And having no sense of worth no value of self.
Never mind that 1807 saw the abolition of slavery,
This is a horror that still goes on, and not just overseas.
Rather, there are people in our midst who,
Abducted from their bliss, have been
Forced into prostitution, hard labour and are
Frantically crying out for a saviour.
I used to think: what can I do? I’m powerless…
Can’t I go on like I couldn’t care less? Yet -
Knowing of their plight makes it so difficult,
To fight the fact that we need to speak up for those who have no voice.
You can shake your atmosphere, it’s completely your choice.
© Khafi Kareem
Watch the video of Khafi performing the above over on the Media4Youth website here:
A MESSY PICTURE
Now I’m Just Sitting Here Reminiscing,
Feeling Out My Mind But Locked In Its Prison,
While The World Spins It Feels Like Its Drilling,
A Whole In My Soul While Its Slowly Killing.
Me, got my mind racing every time I see police
My head hurts and my heart aches I mean
How much pain does it take for a heart to break?
I mean look around you can see what’s up for stakes
No matter what the coppers state I will not be locked away
The systems a game but we don’t want to play
We have a life but with every second spent
We try to fit it
But for once can we please make our own decisions
Why does life hurt?
Feeling scared my emotions turn
Got me feeling anger because the system needs to learn
But it won’t
I’m just saying
You got the male youths spraying nines griping knifes taking lives
You got the female youths looking left looking right opening legs pregnant by
A boy who isn’t ready so he decides to leave because he don’t want what’s in her belly
She crying saying she’s messed up her life already
This could get messy
She turns to alcohol
He turns to weed
She goes to parties
He gives up his dreams
She takes drugs
He does a robbery
She’s feeling alone so she decides to cheat
He finds out and smacks her into next week
Now stop and think
What might become of their unborn seed?
I can see reality fading washing away
It’s not our fort we was raised this way
So we come to the question
Who’s to blame?
You could blame the dad who didn’t show his son how to treat a lady
You could blame the mum who didn’t show her daughter how to treat a baby
You could blame the police who didn’t give him a chance to explain maybe
You could blame the government for taking food away and stopping money daily
But I look at the world and I say
All this made me
Rotimi SkyersWritten on the night ot Tottenham unrest.
More voices of our Positive Young please.
Black engulfs da air
Smoke blocks out sky
Hands raised up high
Black is da youth
Emotions feel da heat
ppl burnt too much to retreat
Bullet tears thru black
Pigs grunt in their sty
mama looks up to da sky oh my oh my at da sky she asks,
© Rotimi Skyers
A young black afro saxon
Living in a UN united kingdom.
Divided by postcodes of different ways of thinking
Race, colour, creed or religion.
So who represents us, can some1 tell me
DA line is fading, i can’t tell DA the difference between red and blue
Feeling sick going purple, what to do, WHAT to do
So i stand up
Just for a while
Where do we move forward, in this innercity warzone
So i make a smile
Just for a while
Gotta stay strong for da fam, living at home
Yo realising taking a step
An idea which Fascinates
The minds illuminate
Light up, pour tears
Not for fake
Not a snake
Oh DA pain
Oh DA aches
Let it flow out in stream of consciousness, a divine lake
DA story u tell, many around us have spake
Use ur voice, use ur art, use ur culture
change DA world,
Make a difference,
A hard hitting poem by a young man who had never written poetry before but found his voice in less than a week!! Another piece that successfully communicates the waste of life to race hate as Rotimi almost puts himself in the place of Stephen. He shows respect to UK Hip Hop Artist Sway too, for his contribution of positivity to inspire the black youth, young boys just like Stephen.
Click Podomatic mediaplayer to hear the poem read by Rotimi.
I wrote, Thou Shalt Not Kill, as I was really struck by how despite the fact that Stephen Lawrence was murdered, there is so much of him still alive somehow. And after spending a week in the Stephen Lawrence centre and seeing his pictures in the reception area, I wanted to pay tribute, not only to the people that pushed for Stephen's case to be brought to media attention and to the centre, but also to the strength of the human spirit, that can still reign despite every injustice.
THOU SHALT NOT KILL
a poem for Stephen Lawrence who would be 36 on 14th September 2010.
Here is the image of a man-child
Black and white lines on his shirt
Snapped hope ‘93
Squat on humanity
As it sinks further, deep
In pain and misery
Swirls in red tape and the queen's democracy
Stabbed, five inches deep
Justice made blind
Banking on flimsy legislation
Minds behind those black and white lines
Blood on their hands,
Drip drops a trail on the ground
Swirls turn justice monochrome
You miss the colors
You miss the freedom love can bring
Everything an 18-year-old saw and you didn't
Loaded with steel hatred
The pen will forever trump the blade
The power you crave from that
Phallic metallic stick…
We are repelled
Powerless powerless fools
Thou shalt not kill
A battle waiting to be won
Thou shalt not kill
Words from a mother to a son
Thou shalt not kill
The wisdom to walk away
Thou shalt not kill…
My peace. Your Peace. Our Peace
Is this glitter or is this glass? Is this the shattered hope of a nation now so preoccupied with its economy that we have now been reduced to the burning of public policy?
Burn, bright lights, burn. Illuminate the faces of those who are guilty and shed light upon those who died victims of the deeper political unrest.
Once we stood together, now we are forced apart. The money will always talk, but the heart will always scream. The conservation of liberty has become a joke for those above who feed on the lower man’s wallet. A yacht for heart surgery.
In the background, as this is typed, the news and far-off cries of anger are heard. Car-alarms blare. The greed of the forgotten has reached its climax. What began as a call for peace and remembrance fell into despair.
Only here could rioters be this young, this greedy. They attack the companies from which they can reap material benefits. A school has been hit. The attackers laugh it off, a sport for them to enjoy.
Only this in the city where anything can happen. A city where all are free? They call this a ‘battle’, but watch the videos on YouTube and the pictures which appear on Facebook. Tomorrow I will venture into the ruins of the city I must call my home to document the ravages of a war yet to begin.
This is an attack on the government, but what do they expect in return? Money, a job, an education? The government has to be intact for any of this to be available; so they destroy the city, cost the country millions in repairs. A country already in debt from borrowing and bailing. Whose fault is this really?
The nation watches as its capital slowly destroys itself.
Is this London?
Click to read part two of this piece
This spoken word piece was written in a short period of time in one afternoon and is a direct response to the events which have happened in the Summer 2010.
A PROTESTER'S SHOPPING LIST
You will need:
A pinch of Anger
Decades of oppression and injustice
A good size gathering of people
Police brutality and control
National Government intrusion
Media exaggeration and distortion
26 years of illegal wars
A large packet of MPs spinning lies and taking money
A whisk, blend stir and batter of hope to make it bittersweet
A fistful of Robin Hood Tax on bankers, the crunching of marching feet
Homemade creativity and movement
A camera/whistle/horn/ some pick and mix chanting and a placard
And finally a peaceful free flowing soul