The poet helping young people of colour explore their identity through verse

In the function, which was developed by writer advancement firm Spread the Word, Lola has actually run projects, workshops and residencies, all with the objective of supporting ambitious poets. A fitting option for the position, she started composing poetry herself as a teen, and says it permitted her to explore her identity during those challenging shift years..

For kids of colour, finding out to navigate a predominantly white world begins early. In our Giving Voice series, we meet 3 individuals who reveal youths of colour the power of self-expression– helping them to explore their heritage, give voice to their identity and tell their own story. Up, poet Theresa Lola.

You, a suitcase of ideas, unload them and discover,” writes Theresa Lola in her poem Pouring Glow. “Write wings into presence in a poem, the words gliding around the page.”.

The lines are apt from the 26-year-old poet. She might be speaking with her teenage self, brand-new to writing poetry and inspired by its potential for experimentation. Or she could be talking to the young Londoners whom she has invested the last 18 months dealing with as young individualss laureate (a role she will pass on to Cecilia Knapp today), motivating them to reveal themselves with words.

The duality of her childhood– childhood in Lagos, formative teenhood and early adult years in London– is echoed throughout her writing. Ball and Bounce, a poem about playing tennis with friends in a south London park, contains the line: “We share the very first three letters of our postal code like a password; to unlock a story within us.”.

Her very first collection, In Search of Equilibrium, published in February 2019, contains writing about sorrow and the death of her grandpa. “I shocked myself,” she states. “I do not believe sorrow was something I d ever actually considered previously. So when I was writing those poems, there were numerous things I was finding, not practically my relationship with my grandfather but what I thought of life in general and what it means to have lived well.”.

Recently, Lola explains, she has actually been composing about moving from Nigeria to the UK; a space in time assists her when making use of past experiences to motivate her work. “Theres a lot Im finding about myself that I didnt understand then.”.

Identity has additional components for Lola, whose moms and dads moved the household from their house in Nigeria to south London when she was 13. “It was a substantial shift and it most likely took about 3 or 4 years for me to really calm down,” she states. “I was trying to be familiar with my own identity much better, and attempting to fit in with this method of life.”.

For young people of colour, identity is both individual and political.

She relied on poetry to express whatever she was feeling. “Whether it was something serious like struggling to fit in or comprehend the world, or something as insignificant as blogging about a young boy I had a crush on– it was a space to observe the macro and the micro,” she discusses.

Theresa Lola, young individuals laureate for London, in Regents Park. Image: Danika Lawrence.

” Identity isnt constantly a straightforward thing,” she informs Positive News. “There are numerous different components to it and complex ways in which we see ourselves. Poetry can articulate those complexities.”.

The medium is especially fit to blogging about concerns that are complex and, sometimes, clashing, she shows. Could this go some method to explaining the recent boom in poetry book sales, especially among readers under 35? According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks book publishing, sales of poetry volumes hit ₤ 12.3 m in 2018, an all-time high, with teenage women and young women thought to be the biggest consumers of the medium.

Lean Back As Instructed By Fat Joe is about discovering the lyrics to a hip-hop tune to fit in at school, while Tailoring Grief is about having clothes measured for her grandpas funeral service. “It is our culture to commemorate in colour coordination,” she writes.

” I think young individuals are seeing themselves more in poems and poets,” Lola discusses.

Theres hope in having the ability to share what youre going through and your view of the world.

Young poets experimentation with other art forms, such as music or movie, is also making poetry more popular with younger audiences, as is the capability to self-publish through social networks, she believes. “Theres a fearlessness: I define myself as no one and a poet else needs to. They do not feel excluded.”.

It also creates a sense of community, Lola notes. “People naturally start discussing what theyre composing, they desire to share about themselves, which is what the poem can do– it gives us room to open up.”.

Among the most popular workshops she has run, she says, are those in which the trainees are tasked with composing about their identity. “For young individuals of colour, identity is both political and personal,” she describes. “In workshops, theres constantly this discussion in between the way the world views you as a person of colour and the method you view yourself.”.

Main image: Danika Lawrence.

Encouraging young writers to explore and express their mental health through poetry has actually been another crucial location of work during her time as youthss laureate for London. She has actually run two campaigns: My Mental Health Journey charged young people to compose and share work about their experiences with psychological health; meanwhile, the Say Your Peace project, introduced in April, was concentrated on voicing stress and anxieties around the pandemic. Both, she states, highlighted “what it indicated to be a part of that virtual community”.

And poetry itself is enthusiastic, she firmly insists. Poetry isnt simply about writing things the way they are– we can also picture the method we desire things to be.

” I would read their poems and I d feel linked to their story. I d feel an empathy for them,” she says. “I believe poetry is that very first act of discovery about what we need. In some cases you just require to let and talk out your feelings. Often you require to take it further.”.

The work submitted through these campaigns was not all doom and gloom. “For My Mental Health Journey a lot of the poems were victorious poems about coming out of darkness into the light. I got a sense of hope from reading them,” states Lola.

In our Giving Voice series, we satisfy three people who show young people of colour the power of self-expression– assisting them to explore their heritage, offer voice to their identity and tell their own story. Or she could be speaking to the young Londoners whom she has actually invested the last 18 months working with as young peoples laureate (a function she will pass on to Cecilia Knapp this week), motivating them to reveal themselves with words.

” I believe young people are seeing themselves more in poets and poems,” Lola discusses. Motivating young writers to check out and express their psychological health through poetry has been another crucial area of work during her time as young peoples laureate for London. She has run 2 campaigns: My Mental Health Journey tasked young people to write and share work about their experiences with psychological health; meanwhile, the Say Your Peace campaign, introduced in April, was focused on voicing anxieties around the pandemic.

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