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Pages of Poetry

27 May 2020

9 mins

Poetry: it’s either a word you love or fear – there is rarely an in between. Memories swarm of an overly enthusiastic English teacher looking as though they’re about to combust at the mere thought of iambic pentameter. Alternatively, you may’ve fallen in love with the raw creativity and complexity of poetry as a way to navigate yourself through episodes of joy, pain, grief or love. As creativity is blooming throughout this isolation period, it’s the perfect time to explore the expanding world of poetry, and maybe give it a go yourself!

I have curated examples of locally loved poets who are pushing the boundaries of “traditional” poetry, moving into the realms of social and political commentary, mental health issues and addiction. These poems detail anecdotal yet relatable subjects and reset the teenage mind’s construction that poetry is only written by boring rich people from the 1800s.

Sleep Paralysis by Keelin Brook

Withering stares fall upon the sheets,
A scratchy throat, dead arms, a quickening heartbeat.
Knocking is the wind upon glass window,
Eyes prick with tears as ears catch footsteps below.

Moonlight soothes pale sweaty skin,
Edging closer, the creaking settles within.

Uninvited faces form in the darkness of the room,
Paralysed, yet waiting for slumber to resume.

This written poem is my own quick piece of work inspired by my lockdown induced dreams, which are currently running a bit too wild for my liking! As much as I welcome inspirations for creativity, ones that disrupt my sleep are a little irritating, so I decided to voice my frustrations in poem form. In terms of the creative process, I knew that I wanted the first letter of each line to spell something if you read them in a downwards fashion, so I wrote ‘WAKE ME UP’ and formed the rest of the poem from there!

Millie-Jane Ayris

Spoken poet Millie-Jane regularly shares her poetry on stage in her home town of Oxford and has shared with us her favourite piece that she has written: a poem titled Bereavement Sticks. She explained the creative process for this poem to me:

“Bereavement Sticks came from a string of consciousness. All I knew when I started writing was that I wanted to write about smoking and how it was a structure to my day. Before I knew it, there was this jumbled messy story of cigarettes and the process of finding happiness on my page. I chopped it up and edited it a bit and then shared it at my next open mic. This random little piece about my craving for nicotine has become a favourite amongst my family, friends and the people who come to watch my sets. This piece was a breakthrough for me both personally and professionally. It has continued to grow and evolve over the years and I look forward to seeing where these jumble of words take me.”

Millie-Jane found solace in spoken poetry as an early teen, but realised she’d be practising the creative art for many years prior. The fluidity of her work is no surprise when we take this into account, understanding how naturally poetry came to her.

Aiz Hussain

Loughborough alumni Aiz Hussain first discovered spoken poetry through Loughborough’s ‘Speech Bubble’ event, which he describes as an “incredible experience,” from which he has gone on to feature on BBC World News in 2018. His poem Death, that he first shared at Loughborough, went viral: he shares his excitement with me, stating in disbelief that “over 125,000 people witnessed my story on the BBC front page, as well as it being broadcast worldwide on the BBC World News TV channel, which reaches around 99 million viewers per week!”

His achievements also include facilitating his first workshop, turning 25 teenage students into “phenomenal Spoken Word performers earlier this year.” Branding this a “surreal experience,” Aiz describes how he provided students with “a safe space to share their truths since nearly all of them had never written about themselves, let alone performed in front of others!” With such a collection of poetry under his belt, I was excited to reach out to Aiz to learn more about his poetry ambitions and inspirations!

The piece which resonates with me the most, is a poem I wrote called ‘Serotonin’, especially since it seems to resonate with every single person I’ve met on this journey of ours. From a young age, I’ve always been taught to keep my mouth shut and accept all the negativity that life throws at me. I’ve experienced many friends of mine who have been stabbed, raped and committed suicide, deteriorating my personal mental health to the point where I tried to take my own life a few times during Loughborough. Coming from both an Asian culture that disregards mental health as taboo and rough environments which expected me to bottle my emotions up as a boy, it’s crazy to think that poetry literally saved my life – now as a man, I’m able to share a piece like ‘Serotonin’ exploring the side of mental illness and treatment affecting my generation the most yet is never highlighted in mainstream media.”

He also speaks of his hopes for Loughborough’s relationship with poetry:

“I hope there’s more visibility of the Spoken Word Poetry art form in comparison to the usual written Page Poetry, being more easily accessible Open Mic events and safe spaces for students to express themselves. I would love Loughborough to uphold its family motto by giving more platforms for such poetic voices to be heard and allowing students to find the like-minded creatives they may or may not have been searching for.”

So, if you’re feeling inspired, pick up a pen and get writing! Special thank you to Millie-Jane Ayris and Aiz Hussain for sharing their stories!

By Keelin Brook

I love creative writing and write written poetry as a passion project! I’m a final year Loughborough English student and I’m excited to be starting a masters at Newcastle university this September in Media and Journalism. As an aspiring journalist, I have published pieces in music magazines, online student blogs, and most recently, I have co-founded a new online magazine The Angel Archives to pass the time in quarantine!

More info on the featured poets

Millie-Jane Ayris

“As long as I can remember I’ve always been writing silly little poems in notebooks. English and drama were my favourite classes at school meaning I fell in love with performing at an early age. I remember being 8 years old and splitting poems into sections with my best friend and performing them to our parents in the living room. When I was 13 I stumbled upon a spoken word poem online (To This Day by Shane Koyczan) and I fell in love with it instantly, I listened to it on repeat and cried several times and ended up scrolling through video after video of people sharing their poetry. All of a sudden, this community of poets sharing their stories and opinions became my safe space. I started learning their poems and performing them at talent shows. When I was 15, I was asked to share an anti-bullying poem to the entire school, I chose To This Day as I thought it was fitting for what they wanted. Eventually I was being asked to perform at assemblies and open days. I went on to Oxford College to study Performing Arts which is where many of my poetry opportunities began to take off. I started sharing my writing online when I was 16 and eventually started performing at Open Mics when I was 19 from here I have been asked to perform at different places and worked together with a promoter to hold a local poetry night. I have also been asked to perform at Hammer & Tongue which is something I am very much looking forward to.

Sarah Kaye, Melissa Lozada and Blythe Baird are some of the incredible Poets that inspired me to share my experiences and understanding of the world. Growing up I always felt as though my voice was overlooked, my ideas were ignored, and my opinions were disregarded. Watching these powerful young women express themselves through poetry showed me that my words are important to, they showed me that I can make people listen to what I have to say, they made me realise that my voice could and should be valued. Poetry has been my outlet for many years and now it feels as though it’s my superpower. No matter who you are, where you are from, what you have been through, you have the power inside of you to show people how amazing you are. Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything.”

Check out Millie-Jane’s Youtube channel: 

Aiz Hussain

Aiz (@AizzzOfficial ) is an international BBC World News TV-featured spoken word artist, published poet, creative workshop facilitator and event host who has performed personal poetry around the world Born in South London as a British Pakistani second-generation immigrant, he is on a journey to turn his struggles with life, death and mental health into positive messages for the whole world to learn from. Aiz’s craft exposes many societal issues, misconceptions and feelings never explored in the mainstream, constantly fighting for cultural inclusion and being a voice for the voiceless. He has headlined events across the country, performed in poetry slam finals and been interviewed by the BBC Asian Network twice for live radio.

Aiz is always looking to spread love and honesty so if you want to get in touch, feel free to DM or email and keep up to date on the latest projects as soon as they’re out:

Twitter @AizzzOfficial
Instagram @AizzzOfficial

The Limit

The Limit showcases the creativity that exists within the student population, creating a sense of community.

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