First Day, First Impressions

13 Apr

So my first day at Mouthy had me thrown right on into it and I was helping you guys pick out a theme for Say Sum Thin 9 despite the fact I’ve never been to a Say Sum Thin – I would’ve come to no. 8 but work got me for the scratch and Jungle @ Rock City for the headline!

Got to say, for my first impressions of a Mouthy workshop I was blown away by how friendly and on it all you guys were. Some of you had amazing things to say about the things you write and that informed the later discussion about Say Sum Thin 9’s theme. Though the Bermuda Triangle was a great idea, something everyone could really get lost in (ha, get it?), there was overwhelming support for having the show centre on Pride, seeing as Say Sum Thin happens to be the same day as Nottingham Pride. Everyone was throwing ideas into the mix regarding this plan; what got me most excited about coming to Mouthy every week is that no one seemed left out, and finding a group with that sort of dynamic is a hard thing to come by I can tell you.

More importantly, for me anyway, the quality of the writing you guys did within such a short space of time was excellent. I was embarrassed to share what I’d written in the same time, it really wasn’t in the same ball park. Makes me only look forward to next week’s session all the more!

So although some of you lot are going to be in Germany next week (and the best of luck to you while you’re out there!) I’m mega looking forward to seeing what happens this Friday coming. Thanks for being so welcoming that first evening and I’ll see you guys soon!



My Lady’s Pen

26 Mar

I am my Lady’s pen; her fountain.

She chose me to be her trust.

More than an acquaintance; more than just a pen-pal.

I cuddle cozily into her palm as her pent up emotions

get penned out every time she puts me to paper.

Like a brush I paint her the colours of her soul;

her vocabulary is a generous palate.

I am the word-smith to her pensivity.

She is the inspiration. I am the expression.

When we dig into the soil of her reflections

Then, even in January, we make sunflowers.

We plumb her depths together

and bring forth buckets of verse.

Would be suitors always chase,

to puke their rainbows all over her

(50 shaded or otherwise). I take, perhaps, too much

joy in writing a “Let’s just be friends” letter.

I grimace when I must write a romantic note to a man I

deem unworthy of her (Admittedly, that may be all of them).

I am her switchblade when loneliness kisses

the back of her neck. Then I, as her pen, am

mightier than the sword to chase him away.

I am sometimes jealous of iPhone who is richer than I.

He holds her hand too. A lot. But not long ago,

she put him down and took me into her bed.

There we knit nostalgia into her journal.

An evening of intimate ecstasy.

iPhone was chained to his charger, forced to watch.

My Lady shares with me stories of shattered souls

she embraces out on the streets.

I am christened with her tears which spring

from her bigger than Christmas heart.

Together we sculpt carols of compassion.

When the monsters hurt her,she bled

my black ink on parchment. Each letter

was a midnight scab over her scarlet wounds;

Poetry was the antibody to bitterness. I was her right hand.

Earl Grey mixed with mourning was her left.

At times she will put me aside and in the notebook

I’ll reside while she attends to work

and other relationships and though I miss her,

I don’t grow bitter for she is embracing

a life worth writing about. When the time is right,

she’ll return,to pick me up where we left off.

I will again be her pen; her confidante.

Say Sum Thin Success

3 Mar


After months of planning and preparation, Mouthy took to the stage at the end of February to perform “Say Sum Thin 8″. It was a resounding success, with over 100 audience members for both nights! It’s hard to articulate how much energy was put into every bit of work needed to produce the shows and to name all that participated, in making them as good as they were, is to put every single Mouthy Poet name down.

We would like to thank you, however; as the audience you clicked, clapped and mhmm’d throughout both nights and for a poet to experience that is only going to make them grow in confidence and feel that the work they put in was worth it.

We were privileged on Friday night to play host to First Time Dave, on his ‘Good to Talk’ Cycle Tour. Dave is doing 10 gigs, in 10 cities in 10 days and by the time he had reached Nottingham he had already cycled hundreds of miles and he had many more to go. His charity of choice for Nottingham was Harmless, an amazing service that offers support, training and consultancy to those who self harm; Say Sum Thin 8 and First Time Dave managed to raise £115 for this amazing cause! So thank you to those who donated and please continue to support them in their work. (Harmless Website / Review)

Friday night also saw members of the audience give us a taste of their own poetry in open mic slots, it is a brave thing to do and it was a delight to hear the voices of those who came to hear ours.

On to Saturday, and before the headline show Ideas Tap offered a free workshop with New York Slam Poet Jon Sands. We were made to look at persona poems, challenged in a free write and enjoyed a (totally relevant) game of “I don’t believe you!”. We certainly all took something from the workshop and it was a good moment for the Mouthy’s to relax before the headline show that evening.


The Mouthy Poets Cafe opened at half 7 to a very busy atrium and the show began. Once again there were clicks, claps and appreciation shown throughout – with a choreographed piece which involved doughnuts, armadillos, a jam roly poly and much more. The show finished with Jon Sands performing some of his poems to a ruckus of laughter and acknowledgement of his incredible word play and imagery. If you can, check out his book “The New Clean” and find out more on his website! A big thank you goes to him for being so energetic and bringing that to the stage for us to share.

The show does not end at lights up however, the evaluation process continues as we start to collate the feedback you gave us! This will make Mouthy grow and improve, so that we can continue to provide you with bigger and better performances. You can continue to give feedback of your experience using the hashtag #SST8. We will be picking a random winner from these who will receive a Zine signed by Mouthy & Jon Sands!B-8-kOLWsAEaBEf

We are also still on tour and will be hitting the MAC in Birmingham this Saturday, with guest poet Hannah Silva! Make sure to check out our Facebook event page and community page and our Twitter for updates on what we’re up to.

So thank you, once again, for joining us for Say Sum Thin 8! Weare so grateful that you came to support us and we loved speaking out to you. If you can’t get enough of us…Say Sum Thin 9 is on the 25th of July! Pencil it in!

“I am full up but there is always room for desert”

“You guys are amazing…”

“Excellent, had a brilliant time”

“We <3 poetry! Thank you XXX”


“Powerful, imaginative and breath-taking. Thank you! X”

“10 out of 10 would poem again”

“Brilliant! First timer and loved every second. Diversity of poems was great. Well done Mouthy!”

Cleo Asabre-Holt “Bakery Blues” final draft

24 Feb




Please let it be 1am. Even 3am.

But hopefully 11pm.

So I still have time in bed far away

enough from my alarm clock going off not to stress

I am a Baker. Bakeries open for…

The early breakfaster.

This means 4:30am wake up, even on Sundays.

Woefully, my frequenters are pretentious

University of Nottingham Students,

With voices of eloquence exaggerated, of

“Had to be up for an 11am.

lecture today and it was so ridiculous.”

“Where’s all the pan au chocolats?”

“Oh, cookies are on offer? I love oat and raisin.

They’re like 70p. I’m literally going to buy them all.”

Oh my god. Please do not take them all.

Because I don’t wana have to spend

the next few hours of my day baking more.

I hear her parasitic fingertips crinkling

paper bags. Squeezing the goods insides.

I feel violated.

But it’s not time for that yet,

I’m cosied up in bed.


Phone lights up before I pick it up,

The sound gross to me ears

Something like:

  • Does impression of alarm –


Why haven’t I got round

to changing that “Playtime Tone”

on my iPhone yet?

Out of bed; cold.

Porridge. Dressed. Goodbye

kiss. Walk.


2 miles across The Forest,

through Hyson Green,

past creepy block of flats,

A couple of guys ask,

“You gona give me one round the back love?”

Comforting dog walker I’ve only ever seen once appears.

I feel all right.

Down Denman Street Central

He swiftly crumbles…

my stomach rumbles insecure again.

Keep going and arrive at work before time.

About 5:55. Always early so I wait, patient.

*Pause: Clock watching on the stage*

Manager late but unlocks doors and I am inside.

Turn to my right;

Take note of the brown paper ‘A’ ‘B’ & ’C’ bread bags.

A’s, the smallest, for the batons and Ciabatta’s.

C’s the largest for this cumbersome looking “Pave” thing

But mostly I use the B’s because the breads fit in neat.

Snug and attractive.

I guess the bread bags kind of remind me of women’s breasts.

And that my B’s are more than adequate.

I mentally and physically phase out

In solitary with my little oven

this is how it goes in a corporate bakery.

I guess. Until…

“I’m gona get two chocolate croissants –

Like the big dog that I am,”

Chortles through the wicker baskets

as crap out of my arsehole on a particularly bad day of IBS.

I am no longer in my space of serenity.


“Excuse me?!

“Excuse me?!”

“Excuse me?!”

“Are the TTD cookies

made with an alcohol free recipe.”

– Are you joking…?

“Do you know where I can find the organic eggs?”

I gesture *seriously?!*


“Give me warm croissants.”


“You best bin wearin’ gloves.”

This Guy! He is insulting me man and

I want to break him in half

Dunk him in my tea just to drown

out the sound of him bothering me.

Sadly, the saliva in my mouth

flocks back down my throat,

swallowing what I want

to say and politely relays:

“It’s against store policy to wear gloves good sir.

One carries more germs that way.

Rest assured I am doing all I can

to guarantee my cleanliness.”

I want to slap myself in the face for that pretence.

Deflated, I recoil from shop floor back to my enclosure

and feel I have been personally attacked by what I notice next…

A half eaten apple core left hanging about.

Just hanging about next to my muffins.

Take note of the pronoun in use here:

MY- a form of the possessive case of I.

Because I am crazy possessive of my products man.

And it riles me up when people just take the pecan out of me.

So the apple core right,

Hanging about, chillin’, casual you know.

Like that is normal or something.

The bakery sometimes feels like an anxiety simulator.

I have broken down in this box room before,

crying my eyes out like, “What am I doing??”

With my life? With my loaves?

Jesus Christ, thank God for that.

6pm, it’s time to go home.

Why Say Sum Thin (8)?

23 Feb


With Say Sum Thin 8 fast approaching we thought we’d give you a chance to find out why we’re performing in Djanogly, what you can expect from us and what we do as a collective!

The end of this week (27th and 28th of Feb) sees Mouthy take to the stage at Djanogly City Academy Theatre for their Spring show “Say Sum Thin 8″. Over two nights there will be performances from NYC poet Jon Sands, school kids who took part in a workshop, Mouthy Poets themselves and even possibly you. 

As a Community Interest Company we aim to educate and develop the vocabulary and skills of young people, through spoken word.  We give them the chance to ‘say sum thin’ about their story…which the freedom of spoken word allows to endless levels, and last year we worked with every single student in Djanogly and ran two showcases with them. This was a huge success and we want to show the students of Djanogly the possibilities spoken word has in performance and also we want to continue the strong relationship forged with them. This isn’t just what we think though, the response we had from the events was nothing but positive and we are grateful to those that attended, and more so to the students who took part and showed their community, and the city, how strong their voices are.

“I was moved in all manner of ways by the event, which means you and your students captured the essence of what life is really about and the complexity of emotions we all share.” C. Grindrod

We were also really glad to hear the responses of the students themselves and it was fulfilling to know that we had helped them gain confidence in a society that can be unforgiving to young people. However, this is only the start as we wish to develop the seeds we’ve planted and continue to give a platform, a voice, to the children at Djanogly and the other schools around the city.

“I wanted to tell you all that sometimes I’m not very nice just because I feel bad about some things that have happened. But here I feel like I’m accepted.” Participator 

After the shows we often ask people to fill out evaluation forms; this is so we can provide a better experience to the 15-30 year olds within the collective, so we can improve our performances for you the audience and also to make sure the positives are voiced and the effort put into creating each show is worth it. The audience comments from our Djanogly Festival go to show the importance of our work not just to the collective itself but also to those who watch.

“To have such courage and talent at a young age – you are all inspirational” Audience Member

“There is something beautifully important happening here” Audience Member

We are also aware that performances are often centralised in the main theatres of our cities, we want to combat this and give something back to the local communities which have given us the voices of our collective. Spoken word especially, is for the people; this is thanks to its energy, topical subject matter, method of performance and the platform it provides for people to speak up. Created as an attempt to revitalise poetry it combats the environment which has arguably facilitated poetry’s decline.

These are just two of the reasons we are staging our Say Sum Thin 8 Performance at Djanogly and we hope that you can join us over the two nights to celebrate young local talent, the local community and to enjoy the stories being told.

Ticket Info:

The two nights can be booked online at the Nottingham Playhouse website (Friday / Saturday) but there is a discount for the two nights and group bookings which require you to call their Box Office (0115 941 9419). Concessions are also available!

The Friday night is our scratch show and will include an Open Mic opportunity for people in the audience (thought spaces will be limited). Saturday is our headline performance, where we welcome Jon Sands from New York City to come and say sum thin alongside our Mouthys.

Find out more on our Facebook Event Page and our Website! We’re also on Twitter @MouthyPoets where you can find constant updates of what we’re getting up to!

Other comments:

“Seeing young people find and speak their truths and values should happen more – elevate the voice of young people” Audience Member

“Djanogly student poets – YOU ROCK. I am moved to tears!” Audience Member

“Did you see that though – I was on fire” Djanogly Participant

“We’re a poetry family” Djanogly Participant

On attending “To support Djanogly that gets some negative press and to support the positive” Audience Member

“The standard of the work was high, as was the passion all concerned had put into the project.” C. Grindrod

post evidence

Afrah Yafai – Final Scratch edit

23 Feb


After a long day, I will always do one thing.

I take a second to just breathe over a steaming hot cup of tea,

and give life to each stunted memory rooted in my mind.

I think of you then.

Its then, that I think of you.

A wistful sigh penetrates my closed lips when I give my mind freedom to drift back to those particular instances,

because I remember more than anything, how desperately I wanted to be … your cup of tea.

Be a blissful moment that you could seek refuge in

when the tides crashed in at a force that could not be reckoned with.

Be something – just a little something – you would discover was your heavenly addiction.

I wanted to make your body come alive again after you rubbed the sleepless nights from your eyes.

That’s all I really wanted.

I had failed the test of understanding that you and I were built to be different.

Because I have only ever been half a glass of realism,

whilst your optimism could fill the glass to the brim.

I offered you generous amounts of full fat love,

and you could only donate a dash of affection.

I have this infatuation with coffee breaks, coffee dates, but… I hate coffee.

And you…you were more of an alcoholic beverage.

As strong as coffee can be, but with the power that could make invincible fall to her knees,

drowning in self-pity questioning “why did I swallow words that were 60% deceit?”

My brain still struggles with forgiving my heart for letting me walk into walls.

And every day, as I stir the contents in my cup,

I let myself absorb the past two years of my life in the way my teabag does,

And in between the bitter sweet memories that latch on to my lips like sugar coated apologies,

I think to myself:

Teabags don’t question why they must carry the weight of water to benefit someone else.


I never would have thought that a cup of tea would be a reflection of myself.

I stare at my teabag in wonder thinking that we now have so much in common.

Like you, Mr Tetley’s teabag, I let my emotions brew.

I held on a little too long to the darker moments,

And let your sachet of acidic words stew until the water ran black and tasted bitter.

And yes, I guess I could have just let it go.

And right about now,

It could be that my addiction to tea has more to do with finding excuses to revive your memory than needing the caffeine.

But I don’t know.

Perhaps forcing you to enjoy tea made you yearn for some kind of coffee,

and flutter into the wide arms of something stronger than I could ever be.

But maybe I was never really the problem.

Maybe I just wasn’t your cup of tea.

And that’s okay… because you were never mine anyway.

Sarah Newman SST8 Scratch Final Version

22 Feb


American capitalism feeds us

at the dessert section in Tennessee’s canteen.

Thick icing glows on cupcakes,

cookies grab at my teeth,

and doughnuts only compete at breakfast.

At the ice cream machine

students consume with blinkers,

watching the sludge curl into the cone

whilst they hide from the climate change witchery

of a Knoxville snowstorm.

In a freezer a shiver away,

the workers toil, scythes switched to scoopers,

determined sorority sisters drag

along t-shirts and stick to leggings

behind their well-made faces.

Bald eagles are trained to swoop

and let their slow vowels catch up,

dole out strawberry sprinkles with only enough

sauce for a swift ‘bless your heart’.

Boys in orange baseball caps squeeze

silver handles, drop perfect spheres

down their throats and swirl their tongues.

They smirk as Volunteer soldiers,

knowing they’ll come home,

drizzled with democratic royalty,

under the moniker: Vols.

I step to the plate, uncomfortable

in an American metaphor, to plough

through chocolate but my scythe

sinks and a second try

brings out flakes. American faces

hide behind false advertising.

I don’t have labouring hands –

change tactics and crawl out strawberry dust,

choose my seat in uniform rows

and shove the sweetness in my gob.

The polar vortex hits me like a rogue basketball.

The snowstorm wails in untyped words

and English swear words dribble

out of my mouth, landing on my shirt

as ice cream droplets,

staying there as stains.

I watch half eaten meals zip

around the conveyor belt

and hear the hinge of an icicle crack.

A year later, swallowed by brainfreeze,

I read on San Francisco systems

that American capitalism will knock down

the dessert section, the whole Tennessee canteen,

and my old bed in my crisp homesick haven,

to build something bigger.

The ice cream machine will turn to rubble

and I guess I will no longer have brainfreeze.

But a year ago

I plopped my trash on the conveyor belt

and glided to a bowl of vanilla,

sitting petrified, waggling a spoon.

But I took my time and swallowed

uneven blobs cut by my glottal stops.

American capitalism feeds us

at the dessert section in Tennessee’s canteen,

and then knocks you down.

But my parents are socialists, and I

am good.


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