What You Saying? Spoken Word and Homelessness

| Azad Sharma

We like to think of ourselves at the Ideas Hub as passionate storytellers, always on the look out for a new story to learn from and pass on. We are particularly interested in projects that create a space for people to tell their own stories in their own words, and this is what drew us to a Spoken Word project in Croydon.

Since Kate Tempest’s phenomenal rise to stardom and the rebirth of Spoken Word in the UK, there are a plethora of talented bards who take to the stages across the country to let their voice carry you through a story. Spoken Word, as a medium for storytelling, can trace its roots to ancient African griots whose lengthy poems were told to an audience and passed down through generations, who took the time to memorise their lines, stories, and dramas. Even the Greek and Roman epics such as the Iliad, Odyssey or Aeneid were spoken to audiences and not absorbed through books as they are today. The written word came after the spoken word.

On the second Tuesday of every month, bards, storytellers and rappers, gather together at Project B, Croydon for the What You Saying? Spoken Word series. They’ve showcased a wide range of local talent including the infamous Jamal Khan.

But this isn’t just your average Spoken Word night. What You Saying? is a community dedicated to supporting young people experiencing homelessness. On the one hand this support takes the form of providing a stage, a mic, and an engaged audience for young people to tell their story and have their say; on the other, they provide training in events management, stage management, hosting, through a hands-on work experience opportunity.

As part of their ethos they are an inclusive space, intersectional in terms of their politics, and a safe space for people of all backgrounds, genders, and religions. Each night is organised around a theme with main acts as well as Open Mic acts who sign up on the night. Their next event focussing on the theme of “roots” is due to take place on October 9th at Project B in Croydon.

For first time performers, people interested in hearing great spoken word poetry or willing to try something new, we strongly recommend going to a What You Saying? night.


Photo and Video by What You Saying?

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