Language, Power and Oppression

16th June 2017 10:30
St Pancras Room, Kings Place
90 York Way, London, N1 9AG
What can the role of poetry and creative language be to shift power dynamics in the media? How do we exert power without oppressing? How can language and literature be powerful? How can we implement language to empower all in daily life?

Join us as we explore how power is used linguistically in journalism, the spoken word and poetry, in a roundtable discussion led by the Poet in the City Producers as part of Unusual Suspects Festival. Taking stimulus from everyday language and centring our debate on the power shifts of the city around us, we hope to spark ideas on identity, oppression and the freedom of language.

With focused activities to start the discussion, we’ll be joined by speakers from the worlds of journalism and social activism; Maurice Mcleod, social commentator and business director of Media Diversified, a platform which seeks to promote skilled writers of colour; and Georgia Bowen-Evans, a regular contributor to gal-dem, a creative collective and magazine written by women and non-binary people of colour. The debate will be rounded off with a performance of poetry composed from the day’s discussion by globally influenced poet and performer Zena Edwards.

The Poet in the City Producers are a group of talented 16-25 year olds producing work as part of our programme.

Zena Edwards has become known as one the most unique voices of performance poetry to come out of London. Her poems articles and blogs for social and environmental justice issues, race and power are published in Open Democracy, Dance the Guns to Silence in Commemoration The Ogoni 9, Platform London’s Blog - Featured in Riots Reframed documentary – Voice Over Films, and Loose Muse New Writing for Women.

Maurice Mcleod is a social commentator with Jamaican/Swazi heritage. With a 18 year career in journalism, he is director of his own communications company, Marmoset Media, and writes regularly for The Guardian and The Spectator among other titles. He is also vice chair of campaign group Race on the Agenda. Maurice often appears on Sky News as a talking head and writes about social issues, race or politics. Mcleod was also finalist in the Best Print Journalist category at the EMMA awards and was the London pilot manager of Myguide, a £22m DfES project to help people learn how to use the internet.

Georgia Bowen-Evans is a classical pianist and teaching assistant from South East London. She writes and performs poetry alongside her twin sister and is a regular contributor of gal-dem, a creative collective and magazine written by women and non-binary people of colour. Her work includes pieces on Afro-futurism, Grime and Poetry, which discuss the power that language and music has on social change and the importance of empowering one's self. Through her poetry, music and journalism, she wants to encourage more discussions on understanding the effects of mental oppression on society and how to truly break free.

Poet in the City Producers is a programme developed for curious and creative 16-25 year olds with a passion for live poetry and arts events. As well as taking an active role in advising Poet in the City on their programming, the Producers also develop their own events with mentoring and guidance on curation, marketing and management. As youth ambassadors, Poet in the City encourages the young people in the programme as the next generation of poetry producers.

Unusual Suspects is a three-day festival of ideas, solutions and debate exploring what happens when social innovation meets collaboration and how together we can meet some of society’s most pressing challenges. The overall theme of the festival this year will be power dynamics. In these times of uncertainty, Unusual Suspects Festival is attempting to spark change and combat the sense of powerlessness that many Londoners, and global citizens, feel in these turbulent times.
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