Six Of The Best: Sadie, Wil and Bobby (The Word) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Word is a new, semi-regular event coming to Pineapple Black in October (date TBC), aimed at writers, performers, actors, poets, video artists and pretty much any other discipline. It will feature a few pre-arranged performances and happenings at each event alongside an open platform for performers to get up and take a five-minute slot. The hope is it becomes a place where people find collaborators, network and road test new or experimental material.

There will be a Q&A on the 20th of August over at Discord to answer people’s questions about the event and to announce the date of the first one.

Here, the organisers (Sadie, Wil and Bobby) tell us more…

When we devised The Word we didn’t want to just do another open mic or poetry jam – we wanted to create something more embryonic and less hierarchical. We wanted to remove the barrier between performer and audience. This isn’t about showcasing your polished performance – it’s about trialling new ideas and concepts, meeting new collaborators, finding new opportunities, and making The Word your own.

“We are creating a space, in a stockroom and bar above Pineapple Black, where you can bring your ideas to life. Jam along with the house band, workshop a poem or play, rant incoherently into the mic about what’s pissed you off that day, whatever. This will be somewhere you can find an actor for the script you’re writing, or a voice to read that poem you wrote but feel too anxious to perform. There’s no set list or schedule, just a safe space, a platform and a bunch of nice people to enjoy the night with! “

And give us their six of the best…

Bobby: Inua Ellams
I remember stumbling across him years ago, late at night, in some shadowy recess of my Sky package. I think he had just released 13 Fairy Negro Tales – the collection that announced him to poetry world. He’s a brilliant writer and a mesmerising performer. I used to write a lot of poetry at the time and he helped me reassess my own relationship with language. I used to try to elevate myself above my reality through language and poetry when, in reality, it’s far more interesting to use language to drag poetry down to my level.

Bobby: Richard Milward
He’s a Tees-born best-selling author and artist who I’ve always admired. What I find most interesting about Milward’s body of work is how his art and writing seem to influence and inform one another. You can see this in his experimental writing style; his approach is really unconventional. In ‘Apples’ there’s a chapter written backwards and in ‘Ten Storey Love Song’ he does away with chapters all together. His 3rd book (and my personal favourite) ‘Kimberly’s Capital Punishment’ is a fucking ‘choose your own adventure’. He is always considering the reader and how they might navigate his book – you don’t just pick one up and read it through – he wants you to interact; which is similar to my own approach toward my curatorial practice.

Sadie: Clothes, Music, Boys 
Viv Albertine’s memoir details her journey to becoming the guitarist for The Slits, how she couldn’t play guitar (really, none of the band were particularly gifted instrumentalists) but ended up becoming part of a movement that really challenged the male dominated music scene. She talks about all her entanglements with Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten, and other various exploits, all of which was unbelievably cool to me at the age of 14 when I saw Viv Albertine speak at a festival back in 2015, promoting the book. I bought it immediately after she had finished speaking, and when I got to the front of the line to sign it, I told her that I write music too, but I’m not very good at guitar. She imparted some words of encouragement that I can’t quite remember, and signed my copy “To Sadie, Fake it! Love from Viv” and a little doodle of a guitar. 

Sadie: Where’s Wally?
Thomas Walliker’s new EP became an all-time favourite as soon as he played it to me in his flat in Barnard Castle. To me, it embodies all the cheeky, indie-influenced, poppy rap that I loved when I was younger, and still listen to now. Wally influences come from everywhere, he cites Slaves, Viagra Boys, Gorrilaz, Cage the Elephant and many others as inspiration. Personally, some of the artists I’m reminded of are Jamie T, Dizzee Rascal and Rizzle Kicks, all are artists who I have loved for a long time. Wally says in Still High “Could never find the right tune, that’s why I make my own music“ and I really think that Wally’s music fits a niche in my music taste that hasn’t been filled for a while. It’s sincere, a bit tongue in cheek, and infectiously catchy. It’s both nostalgic and totally fresh, and makes me feel as excited about new music as I did when I first started going to gigs. Wally is exactly the kind of up-and-coming local talent that we want to champion at The Word. For me, this EP is an instant classic

Wil: Pomona – play by Alistair McDowall
Alistair McDowall and his beautifully, ugly, in-your-face play Pomona, instantly gave me a sense of absurd familiarity of living in a North-East landscape. Between Cthulhu in a backseat of a taxi, nihilistic life philosophy found in chicken nuggets, Dungeons and dragons and the main character that wanders in a town of empty buildings and peculiar characters – Pomona’s story captured the exact surreal feeling I have when wandering Middlesbrough. Finding out McDowall himself was local to the North-East, immediately gave me this sensation I could finally relate to a writer that spoke to my everyday life. After 10 more reads, I found I was a walking, talking, sombre McDowall character – and that excited me more than depressing me! Pomona really opened the strange territory of contemporary absurdism for me, inspiring a creative freedom in my writing I don’t think I’d have found in any other modern writer. 

Wil: Grayson Perry – Grayson’s Art Club TV show
Alone, Grayson Perry is my ultimate art hero. However, during lockdown I think he brought an amazing way to cope with the stress and loneliness of it all with his show. I remember it being on during the peak of lockdown when I was at home with my mum and sister, starting my digital work placement with the MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art). Like everyone else during the lockdown, we were just waiting for the next government update, sat bored with our 100th cup of tea (because what else could you bloody do). Perry’s show gave me the idea to run some simple art workshops for our well-being, much like how he was reaching out to people digitally to discuss their lockdown art.  My digital placement ended up being a postal delivery of art supplies each week from the MIMA, and with them, each week was a new workshop idea I got from Grayson’s Art Club to document. It made for a great portfolio over lockdown, from postcards to portraits and 30-second writing prompt stories over the art. Grayson Perry helped me survive lockdown, and it made me realise art/ creative spaces are a huge lifeline for mental wellbeing in communities, spaces, and our personal expression when we struggle with loneliness.

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