In preparation for the Cut The Crap Poetry evening, I:M sits down with the poets and performers. With honesty the core theme for the event, we look to hear some truths from the artists and to also celebrate the beginning of the poetry section of the magazine. The event is fast approaching, on October 17th. Not convinced? Listen to what one of our poets, Fahad Al-Amoudi has to say, and see if that changes your mind.
What is your name and what do you study?
My name is Fahad Al-Amoudi and I study history at Durham. I’m from London but my parents are from Ethiopia and Yemen, which I usually have to explain when people ask me where I’m from.
What led you into the world of spoken word?
I’ve written poetry for a while but it was hip hop that really pushed me into the spoken word direction. I’m heavily influenced by artists such as Noname, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar and MF Doom as well as spoken word artists such as Kate Tempest and Joshua Idehen. It was also just a part of the process of finding my voice. The more I wrote the more I realised that I was more suited to the accessibility and lyrical aspect of spoken word than traditional page poetry.
Why do you think live performance of spoken word is so powerful and important and what’s your favourite performance you’ve done so far?
Just as with live music, live spoken word can be an incredibly moving and immersive experience. Seeing Sophia Thakur perform ‘Beatbox’ and Joshua Idehen perform ‘Black Says’ live have been two of the most powerful and emotional experiences of my life. I think that’s what tends to separate spoken word from page poetry is the extra dimension of the live performance how that adds to the emotional impact of just reading the words off the page. Those who know me know that I’ve never been happy with a performance. I’m always over analysing stuff trying to improve for the next time but the performance I’ve enjoyed the most is a Poetry Experiment gig at my college up in Durham. We came up with the set in the morning, had to get equipment together in two hours and performed in the evening. We bonded a lot that day.
So, you were recently accepted onto the Writing Squad programme? Tell us more about that!
Not enough can be said for the great work the Writing Squad does for writers in the north. It’s a two-year programme during which you are mentored and directed by professional poets, playwrights and novelists but the community really lasts for life. I’m really excited to be working with Malika Booker and to get stuck in with all the programme has to offer. Shout out Steve Dearden. That’s the OG.
I love your drive to merge spoken word and music through your collab The Poetry Experiment. Which artists inspire you to do this?
When we all first met we bonded over our love for Robert Glasper so I’d say musically we’re strongly influenced by Glasper, Terrace Martin, Bilal and as far afield as Ethiopian jazz artists. Lyrically I take inspiration from what Noname, Saba, August Greene and Gill Scott Heron have done. It’s really experimental at the moment, we’ve got twin EPs coming out soon which really reflect the myriad of influences behind what we do. Also props to Noname. Room 25 is album of the year.
What does ‘cut the crap’ mean to you? What truth are you trying to tell through your art?
To me, cut the crap means just be you. Coming from my background and going to the institutions I’ve been to I’ve always felt I’ve had to be different people and I think ‘cut the crap’ sheds that mask and I can just be honest with how I feel about everything.
And finally, can you tell us a story of a time you lied and either got caught, or would like to fess up?
As the Poetry Experiment we lied our way to get a gig in Sweden this summer. A friend of mine pretended to be our manager and called up a bunch of venues with a story that we had been booked for a ‘private gig’ that was cancelled at the last minute and would they be interested in booking us for a slot? After the eighth call it worked.
Make sure to check out Fahad’s facebook page: Fahad Al-Amoudi: Spoken Word Poet