Name: Natalie Fiawoo
Lives: North London
Poetry Debut: The second ever Poetry n Motion, around 6 years ago
Accomplishments: I feel accomplished when someone knows my work already or when someone seeks me out to perform at their event.
Being by the river (Thames) on a Saturday evening when they’re just closing the book market, and they switch on the fairy lights.
Mushrooms – I don’t believe in eating fungus!
Animals – I hate cats and dogs, plus I’m allergic, so that adds to the dislike.
Quirky fact about you:
I always have to remove the chicken from the bone before I can eat it.
Can you tell us how you got involved in this event?
I’ve been a few times before. Last month, I went along and was being encouraged by friends to do the open mic, which was cool, but didn’t realise it was a competition, so was stunned to win!
How long have you been performing Poetry/Spoken Word?
I’ve always written. The first thing I remember writing, was called ‘The Magic Rose’ about a red rose that lived in a greenhouse. There were about 6 stories in the collection. At 17 or 18 I started to do poetry, but prior to that, I didn’t really know that poetry was an option when I was younger, so kind of fell into it. I wrote a piece at church one day and performed it. I’ve been performing on the circuit, on and off, since about 21 or 22.
Is Poetry your full time occupation or do you do other stuff simultaneously?
No, it’s not, I work in accounting! I don’t think I’d want to do poetry full time; I wouldn’t want to compromise what I love doing because I have to pay bills and I think it would change my work. I write all the time, it’s my release, it’s what I do, so I don’t know if I’d want it to be my full time job - but I do envy those who are brave enough to do it and are able to marry effectively, the quality and quantity. I’m not sure how much my work would suffer, if I had to force it, to reach a certain level, so I’m happy with the way it is.
Can you tell us who and/or what inspires you to write and perform?
Creativity inspires me. I love to sit in the audience or to reason with other creative souls. We think differently. The way we live our lives and think is inspiring. It could be just a word or a small phrase that instigates that need to write. I write because I need to, it’s a natural release for me. Whenever I peak on any type of emotion, I write as soon as I can.
Who would you cite as your influences? Corinne Bailey Rae, the way she describes things, makes you feel you wish you’d thought them out in that way, it is obvious that she loves and respects words. There’s no one that I want to ‘be’ as such, I think that could be dangerous, you start to loose your own identity, because you start following how someone else delivers, structures, etc. I’ve seen it happen to younger artists, who seem to clone other artists and they loose their own identity/originality. Also, words, they could be coming from anyone, but just the right combination.
Who is your favourite Performance Poet and why? At the moment... hmmm, it’s hard. It’s the men, definitely. The women, we are slacking! [laughs] I don’t think there is any one artist, but the men on the circuit, the ones making moves, they’re my favourites at the moment. Tshaka Campbell, GREEDS, Inua Ellams, Dean Atta all serious Poets and Performers for very different reasons.
Who is your favourite UK artist (excluding Poetry) and why?
This is a hard one but off top, lyrically, for his flo, creativity and use of artform, Kano, and Obenewa – the way that she performs, how she commands an audience, it’s easy to get lost when you watch her. Plus, the creative way that she performs and uses her band really draws you in.
What would you say are your greatest challenges as a writer and performer?
To be honest, I feel like my performance is weak, that I write better than I perform. I go on stage and share my stories. For example, at Style and Substance, I pulled a man on stage and sung a little to him, which was really, really nerve wracking.
The challenge is trying to be a better performer. Also, as a writer, it’s to remember that sometimes, you can’t take it back. Because I write my life, sometimes I may perform a piece that I can’t take back, you know...you can hurt someone without intending to. I never use names or anything, but it’s like a gift and a curse in one – it’s my creative outlet, but sometimes, sometimes it just has to be said. I try to be mindful though, that it can affect someone else’s life.
How would you describe your style as a Performance Artist?
I’m not sure I have a style, as such, but pushed, I’d have to say simply Freeverse.
What can the audience expect from you on the night?
Honesty. They can expect to see and hear me, and to travel on my journey with me. They can expect poetry and song.
Is there a particular piece you are looking forward to performing?
I’m looking forward to performing my song, the first I wrote, which I haven’t performed for a long time. Which is weird because singing really scares me and of course, first and foremost I am a Poet.
Ultimately, what would you like to achieve with your Poetry?
For people to understand that poetry isn’t what you learned in GSCE. It isn’t stuffy, it isn’t restrictive, it doesn’t have to be that typical miss one, rhyme one stuff. To be able to think that they should forget everything that they think it should be and to give people a different perspective. Also, it’s the Year of the Poet for a reason! Myself and a friend, Matthew Peltier, recently held an event called Fresh.INK at the BBC bar and our tagline was “The rejection of the misconception, screw what you thought you knew” that kinda says it all for me.
What is Year of the Poet?
Hmmm, I feel like a publication said it somewhere and everyone just kind of ran with it, including me! [laughs] but in retrospect a lot of amazing things have been happening for the artform, its moving in ways that it hasn’t seemed to for a long time. It’s beautiful.
Complete these sentences:
Soul is… that little piece or thing, inside of you that makes you compassionate, creative and human. That thing that connects with another person.
Poetry is… a piece of me.
Natalie Fiawoo is…a lady?
What other performances/projects do you have coming up?
I’m working on some projects that the moment, but I’m not ready to share yet. Do check out my blog (dontthinkjustfeel.blogspot.com) though, to keep up with what I’m doing and stuff.
Show commences at 9:00pm sharp
After party until 2:30am with music from RAMPAGE (BBC1Xtra)
£8 before 9:30pm/£10 after on door
Cotton's Caribbean Restaurant
70, Exmouth Market
London EC1R 4QP
Angel (Northern Line) / Farringdon (Hammersmith & City or Circle Line)