Freak Speak Review – By Shannon Treadwell
Freak Speak Review
By Shannon Treadwell, Peterborough Regional College, Media & Journalism
Friday the 13th; perfect for spooky superstitions, ghost stories and … poetry?
That’s right, last Friday, Freak Speak arrived in Peterborough, a poetry night with the promises of “cheap booze, loud voices and outlandish words”.
The poetic phenomenal visited The Radius in Peterborough, having around 60 excited (and pretty merry) guests all buzzing to hear some amazing poetry from the 7 performers, as we were told to use our ‘noise makers’ – mine was a harmonica – to make as much noise as possible and “claim the space, it’s your space”.
Headlining the event were 3 talented poets, Talia Randall, Inua Ellams and Joelle Taylor, along with their equally as brilliant supports from Ben Norris – who opened the show – , Alex Tyler, Lauren Kendrick – who spoke about the ‘secrets box’, where people donated their secrets and stories to all be collected and turned into a ‘communal spoken word’ – and Fay Roberts. Each poet managed to bring in their own style and allowed their personalities to shine through their words as the audience was captivated and engaged with each individual. There seemed to be a heavy heritage theme among the poems; heart, soul and personal experience spilling from their choreographed words. As someone who had never been to an event like this, I’d totally recommended it, being able to hear other people perform to you and hear the different tones and emotions seep out of their voice is pretty cool.
Before the show, one of the headliners Talia Randall held a poetry workshop, with the fitting theme of ‘secrets and lies’. This was a completely new experience for me, putting me out of my comfort zone, but taught me and the other attendee’s ways to get motivated and activities to get our brains ticking. I could tell this pre-show event would’ve been a really fun and helpful experience if you’re a devoted poet looking for new ways of thinking about ideas. One thing I enjoyed about this was seeing the variety of characters that turned up proving anyone can enjoy poetry. I think Talia did a fantastic job with this, managing to get people involved, chatting and writing as she engaged with the circle of creative thinkers.
I got the chance to chat with Talia after this, where I got to ask her about her favourite poets, inspirations and how it all started. Talia’s work usually includes lots of unique elements, like different sounds, singing, rapping, ‘intentionally silly dancing’ and comedy, stemming from her family, she told me “my dad’s family loved innuendo’s and cockney rhyming slang … if you make a pun in my house you’ll get a point and my mum speaks different languages” showing the wide range of influences she’s grown up with. She also educated me on something she does a lot due to being dyslexic called ‘spoonerism’, a verbal error where you mix up the initial sounds/letters of two words which she said “things like that make me laugh and I wanna replicate that in my poetry”.
Talia expressed “I use a lot of my own experiences in the work I do, even if it isn’t directly autobiographical, it might be indirectly related, because I thrive on that way of communicating with people”, it’s really interesting to hear why people love to do what they do. Talking about love, when I asked Talia which poem she’d written was her favourite she responded with ‘Cassette Tapes’, which is about changing a rubbish situation and trying to have control over it instead, a piece to entertain people instead.
Overall, the night was a total success and a congratulations is in order for the event organiser Charley Genever, it was clear that everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, I even heard the person next to me gush about how much she liked the event, there was such chatty and light atmosphere you could relax into. Keep checking the Freak Speak website for news of when the next night is arriving.
I wanted to end with something Talia Randall said during the interview that really resonated with me: “when you go to see a performance you’re in the present … when a performance works for you as a performer or as an audience, you forget everything else that happened before and after and you’re in the moment and there’s not a lot else that does that other than like church or meditation, it’s sort of like a holy unholy place, and I think the best things that I’ve seen like the best films or bands or plays can be life changing”.