Representation, Reflection, Resistance with Rommi Smith

Rommi Smith, image by Lizzie Coombes aka Betty Lawless

Drawing on James Baldwin’s adage of bearing witness via Mary Oliver’s instructional poetics of noticing, of paying attention, we work together to examine themes and ideas which emerged in the panel discussion, and in questions from the floor.

Via a series of short discussion and writing-based prompts, together, we’ll explore concepts of sensation, presence and reaction, moving through into ideas of manifesto and change. The concept of rewriting as a political act is ever-present; its metaphors are a guide as we reflect upon and engage with the meaning and message of resistance campaign slogans such as: “You Cannot Be What You Cannot See” and “Nothing About Us, Without Us, Is For Us.”

Concerns and topics discussed earlier in the day during the Platforms not compromise panel discussion will inform the content of this workshop, so it is recommended, but not essential that you attend the panel discussion taking place beforehand.

Please bring a pen and paper and a book/zine/piece of text/object which speaks to you in terms of resistance, democracy and positive social change.

All welcome, no prior writing experience required.

Rommi Smith is an international writer who has won numerous prestigious residencies and commissions for institutions ranging from the British Council to the BBC. Her work encompasses a number of historic “firsts”: Smith is the inaugural British Parliamentary Writer in Residence and inaugural Poet in Residence for Keats’ House. Hampstead. In 2020, Smith is Poet-In-Residence for the Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.

A university lecturer and workshop leader, Smith is the curator of tailor-made word-based experiences for all kinds and groups and people. As a writing and performance mentor, for the last seven years, Smith has nurtured writers to masters’ study and competition level via her own workshop: Rommi Smith’s Poetry Workshop.

John Barnard Scholar at Leeds University, Smith is currently writing up her practice-led PhD fusing poetry, theatre and live jazz in an exploration of the legacies of the classic Black blues and Jazz women. Her research takes her to New York, where she has had the privilege of interviewing some of the greatest contemporary Jazz and Blues artists including Dianne Reeves and Esperanza Spalding.

Smith is a Visiting Scholar at City University New York (CUNY). Presenter of original work at The Segal Theatre New York and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem – her performance at Schwerner Writers’ Series in New York was at the invitation of Tyehimba Jess, Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry.

In 2019, Smith’s academic writing was first published by New York University Press, as part of the groundbreaking book Imagining Queer Methods. Smith is a recipient of an Arts Council England Award, a US Hedgebrook Fellowship and is a winner of the Northern Writers’ Prize for Poetry 2019.

This event is part of Represented: Platforms not compromisea programme of events and activities highlighting an urgency for equality in representation and critiquing misrepresentation, under-representation and misinterpretation. In conversation with artists, writers, curators, performers, activists and communities, the programme aims to welcome, acknowledge and present a growing plurality of voices.

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