Poetic Essence changed my life and I say that without exaggeration. The impact this event has had on my life has been unlike any other. It may seem on the surface that it is JUST a live event where you can JUST see artists perform, JUST like at any other live event in Birmingham. You’d be correct in making that assumption, only you would really have to be there to experience firsthand the magic that has kept me coming back each time.
I stumbled across it on Facebook; a new event shared on a friend’s page initially caught my attention. “Eccentric spoken word” it said and I was immediately intrigued. I knew I had to go, begged my best friend to accompany and off we went without any idea about what we were walking into. We sat at the back, deciding that was best, because we wanted to leave unnoticed if it wasn’t any good. Well. On reflection, I think we underestimated it. When we did come to leave, we were both feeling drunk on spoken word and high on life. This creative drug I had just experienced gave me a feeling that I hadn’t had before. I felt alive. There were no real words for it, but I went home and I was massively inspired to write. My relationship with my own writing had been difficult for some time, but a few hours at Poetic Essence and I couldn’t stop the words from flowing. I went home and instantly started to write about my first time there. Actually, to give you an insight to my thoughts that night, I will share what I wrote:
“3rd July, 2013.
Can I just say… What a night. Seriously. I went to an amazing poetry event this evening and it was incredible. It was diverse, so many people, mostly women-loving-women, all with their own confident sense of self, from various different backgrounds and with different outlooks, all cam together for the love of the spoken word. I’m definitely going every month and maybe I will find the courage to do open mic night. Harp came with me and we just felt it was all meant to be. We have found our place. And I have found my place, right at a time that I needed it.”
After coming home that night, my mind was alive and my creativity had awoke. I didn’t realise it had been asleep but I was fueled with inspiration and ideas, that the idea of going to sleep on them didn’t appeal at all. I had to write, write, write. And so I did. I wrote a new poem that night and I titled it “My Truth” because I felt that it was, and still is to this day. I felt on top of the world, those few hours of entertainment from such a welcoming crowd had left me inspired for weeks. I couldn’t stop writing. The novel I had been writing for four years was finished later that month. I began to engage in an online community, sharing and indulging in poetry challenges set out by Poetic Essence. I looked forward to the next event, hoping I would get to experience the magic of spoken word, authentic souls and family vibes, and it never disappointed.
Initially, I didn’t stay for the whole night. I never wanted to leave but I needed to get home to relieve the babysitter of their duties. But there was still so much that I wanted to experience and when my lovely Nan offered to have my girls overnight, I was extremely grateful and excited. I made sure I got to Poetic Essence early to secure myself a decent seat, mingled a little as my confidence grew and succumbed to the feel-good vibes. I still battled with anxiety but I never thought twice about attending that event alone. I knew I would always be welcomed, always greeted with warm smiles by the infamous team behind all the magic. I’d feel the build up of excitement weeks before, eager to indulge in another evening of spoken word and music I wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. It changed my own writing: the style of my poetry developed as I wrote it with performance in mind. I wanted to be able to perform like those who I admired the most, and when I was ready to do that, I’d jump on open mic.
Fast forward 18 months later, now a firm member of the Poetic Essence team (social media queen that I am) and it has indeed been a journey. I sat in Frederick’s Bar on the last night, looking at the room around me, my heart filling with love for the community I have come to know. People who have connected through this one event, born collaborations from conversations, developed friendships and partnerships, created music and memories. I recently scrolled through Facebook book, looking at the old albums, reminding myself of why I love it so much. Could it be the high quality of performers each month? Perhaps it is the relaxed atmosphere, the family vibe and the sense of belonging to such a unique group? It could be that, but I believe it is down to the people that make Poetic Essence what it is. Romario, Rona and Steffan. Having taken the time to get to know and understand the people behind their public roles, I can only emphasise that the challenges they have overcome in private makes me appreciate them so much more. It is my utmost love and respect for those people as individuals, their sincerity and positivity that continues to inspire me even to this day.
Believe me when I say that Birmingham is oozing with creativity. There are countless events that I can go to if I want to feed my spoken word addiction, but I have saved myself for Poetic Essence (with the exception of the lovely MAIA Creatives). It is majorly out of loyalty, I guess, but at the same time I feel I have to show my 100% support for the people who changed my life, without ever really intending to. I support this event, yes, but I support the people behind it because they believed in me, even when I didn’t even know who I was.
Attending this event way back in July 2013 was a turning point in my life. It arrived when it needed to. It gave me the clarity and direction that I needed at that time. It prompted a defined journey into self-discovery through expression via the written word. I became comfortable in my own skin and then comfortable in my writing. It opened up doors of opportunities through networking during the break and the mini-after parties afterwards. Even just a chat with someone new, over the complimentary drink you get with entry, has then gone on to be the beginning of many a friendship. I have observed the magic of Poetic Essence as it has done for others what it has done for me: giving food for the soul and bringing dormant creativity to life.
Thank you, Poetic Essence, for all you have done for me and for Birmingham. I believe you served a greater purpose that you intended and that you will return again when it is time to serve that purpose once more. Until then, put some love back into yourselves because you are going to need it for whatever exciting paths you take next.
Lots of love, Anni x
P.S. Thank you for the gifts! ❤