Tag Archives: young people

Mouthy Poets is coming to an end.

2 Dec

Sometimes love and passion is not enough.


Last week we announced in our weekly session, that Mouthy Poets is wrapping up. November 25th was our final session.


After 6 years of growth; 11 Say Sum Thin shows, a national tour, an international exchange, a sister collective in Germany, the region’s biggest inter-school poetry slam, two albums, scholarships, commissions, publications and more, Mouthy has achieved above and beyond what a 20-year-old Deborah could have anticipated 6 years ago.


During the past year we have trialed various ways of progressing Mouthy Poets and making it a sustainable model that doesn’t rely on any one individual. However, just as many serendipitous things needed to align for Mouthy to grow, these things have not come together to enable Mouthy to continue. A combination of a small team with limited capacity, a change in needs of participants/the area and unexpected funding restrains left the whole team in agreement that bringing Mouthy to a peaceful and celebratory end was the only way forward. New crops need to be planted for soil to remain fertile, and we are excited to see what will come out of all the Mouthy Legacy (once a Mouthy, always a Mouthy).


Our funding will come to an end in January 2017 and we will be focusing in the next two months on evaluating the past 2 years of activity and wrapping up the office and administrative systems.


We hope to end with a day of evaluation/ round table discussions with partners, participants and Alumni in Nottingham on the 11th of Jan 2017 with a little party after. If you are available to come, please let us know and pop it in your diary!


Please spread the word and if there are any evaluation/ legacy or archiving support you can give us, or if you just want to let us know what impact we had on you/ someone you know/ your organisation – please let us know on Debris@mouthypoets.com


Warmest Regards,

Mouthy Poets CIC



Announcing our Associate Artists 2015-2016

16 Oct

What is the Associate Artists programme?

At Mouthy, we aspire to create diverse voices, educated and supported by world class talent, enabling young aspiring poets to step into the professional world with confidence in their craft and identity.

At the centre of Mouthy is our Core Collective of 50 15-30 year olds and to deepen our investment in them, I am happy to announce our new annual Associate Artists Programme. Three new Associate Artists will be welcomed into Mouthy every year to;

  • become part of the family,
  • lead friday workshops (alongside core artists and facilitators at Mouthy, Debris Stevenson and Anne Holloway),
  • lead masterclasses,
  • develop and perform their own work to perform as part of the collective,
  • develop and challenge themselves as artists and therefore challenge the Mouthy poets around them,
  • support Mouthy to connect the the national poetry scene,
  • and provide 1-1 tutorials in specialised areas.

How do we choose them?

We have learned over the years that working with Mouthy is a very specific commitment due to the intensity to which we work with young people and the combination of developing writing, performance and event coordination. For this reason, to select the Associate Artists we consulted the collective and our stakeholders to create a long-list of artists with a national and international reputation. Those able and interested in the programme created our short-list and were invited to deliver workshops for Mouthy and attend a Mouthy show. Through engagement, dialogue and evaluation of these processes our Associate Artists were chosen. We hope to find other ways to work closely with the Artists on our long and short-lists!

Every year, we aim for 1 of the 3 Artists to me a graduate of the Mouthy Core Collective and Educator Training programmes, creating a clear route of professional development for poets growing through Mouthy.

Who are they?!


Dean Atta 

Dean Atta

“I have admired the scale and ambition of Mouthy from afar for a number
of years. As I have come closer to the organisation what I admire most
is the heart and community spirit of its members. Now I am officially
part of that community what I look forward to most is getting to know
the individual mouthy members and bringing my experience to the table
to help them develop in their practice and careers as writers and

Dean Atta is a poet and educator, with a BA Philosophy and English from the University of Sussex and MA Writer/Teacher from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Dean is a member of Keats House Poets Forum and Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. He is an Associate Artist with Mouthy Poets and New Writing South, member of the Creative Team for Eastside Educational Trust and a Performance Poet with Apples and Snakes. Dean’s debut poetry collection I Am Nobody’s Nigger was published by The Westbourne Press in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2014.

www.deanatta.co.uk / www.facebook.com/deanatta / www.twitter.com/deanatta

Hannah Silva


“Mouthy Poets are an incredibly hard working, talented and warm group of young people, I am very honoured to have the chance to work with them this year. I am inspired by the ways in which they use poetry as a tool for living, communicating, building confidence and creating. The focus on diversity, collaboration and development makes Mouthy Poets very special and important. There’s no one way of being a poet who performs, I’m looking forward to learning from others, adding some of my experiences and approaches to the mix, and writing new material along the way.”

Hannah Silva is a Birmingham based poet, playwright and performer, known for her innovative explorations of language, voice and form. She was shortlisted for the 2014 Ted Hughes Award, and won the Tinniswood Award for ‘Marathon Tales’, (co-written with Colin Teevan for BBC Radio 3). She is currently touring ‘Schlock!’ a solo performance made by splicing together Fifty Shades of Grey with a novel by Kathy Acker. Schlock! was commissioned by The Poetry Trust for the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2014 – tour destinations include Flip Festival in Brazil and ‘Literature Live!’ in Mumbai. Her first collection ‘Forms of Protest’ is published by Penned in the Marginswww.hannahsilva.co.uk

Ioney Smallhorne

 cheekyIoney’s poems are influenced by her Jamaican heritage, her experience as a Black woman in England and her love of the natural world.

She bravely uses writing to oppose social injustices, to question the status quo and to confront abuse. A principle volunteer with Nottingham Black Archive, Ioney has a great passion for history and often uses it to fuel her writing. An original members of the dynamic collective The Mouthy Poets. As a Spoken Word Educator she encourages young people to harness the power of poetry to realise their own greatness.

Ioney is also a film maker and enjoys translating her poems to the screen.

Debris Stevenson – SST9 Idea

17 May

So I have a lot of ideas buzzing around my head for this one, and also a lot of other writing I am working on that I think this piece alongside. I think what might help is for me to list my aims/objectives for this piece:

-I want to push my understand and use of poetry crossing over into Grime Lyrics/ MCing both within my writing and my delivery.

-I want to work with local Grime artists in developing, creating and performing the content – I really want to work with a producer and ideally some MC’s too.

-I want to explore the ‘Carnival Atmosphere’ of a cypher, a battle, a clash in a garage, a living room, a park.

-I am currently developing a lot of content for my one day 1 woman show (my SST8 piece is part of this too), this show is mainly around my family and religion but I want Grime and where I grew up to feature in it too and I think this piece might be at the core of that intersection.

-I think it is quiet likely I will be aiming for the Studio show for this because I really want to create that vibe of being in a small, sweaty space. BUT I am aware aiming for the auditorium show may enable me to draw in some more high profile collaborators.

Very excited!


Debris – NEAT14 Final Draft

28 May


Only a few days until our LoewenMouthy show (please come)! And here is what I will be performing 🙂



We don’t have a government, we have Starbucks.

Lets stray to the docks. What ifthe roads get closed?

Laugh until our ears burn, rum will soften the blisters.

We work too many hours to sleep sober. Dream tanks,

wake in jolts of sweat. Forget. Unite in each other’s saliva.

Squeeze soft when the lights dance off. Sorry


I’ve drowned too much. Downed, sorry.

When I saw you stood, stronger than Starbucks,

on that army truck’s hood; face pomegranate pink, sparkling saliva,
wailing Golden Brown into the windscreen. Activism felt closer.

That’s why I jumped up alongside you, my voice-tank

chugging the chorus on repeat. We stood till our pride blistered


realising the officers were asleep. My memories blistering

apprehending that week. Trampled. Herot. The sorry

faces of strangers and cars. I found my mum under the wheel of a tractor,

mud softly gasping at her neck, light ripping rubber and red. A disposable Starbucks

cup the only thing left full. She knew to be careful – stay close.

I didn’t know it would be me with gun barrel to her ear. Saliva


frothing at her fear as the tank ached towards us. Saliva

and blood. Gelatinous black blistering

blood, like I’d ripped a silent baby from her closed

body. The last thing I outlined from her face was sorry.

You know, after 6 drinks; tea, taurine, Starbucks…

your body interprets the caffeine as anxiety. That cup: a vehicle



of work and oblivion. Then, I’m told –Go! Rapid, solid, far. Wagon

my car to the border.Pack what Mum would’ve wantedkiss her chalked saliva

from my hand… No!I kicked my rucksack out the sunroof and ran home, to Starbucks,

one name in a list where tourists shouldn’t go. My Mum worked nails to blisters,

then stayed up to teach me English.She said, English solves everything but… sorry.

I’ve been trying to believe like Mum did but I can’t find the seams where life opens and work closes.


Instead I’ve got bottles and lids. I can’t stomach the Rolexes and road closures.

I need the alkali of mouth. You stood, open-bodied, on that army truck

and threatened those officers’ dreams with something more accurate than a sorry

list of names read out as News. Some names sound too familiar. So we choose a new language? No! I choose to salivate

in song like you did; pick up my memories and dreams like bombs: assess what’s wrong or holy. Blister

bright and write instead of run, cause if we do? What’s left; the poor, the corrupt, the immaculately suited trucks? Starbucks!


Starbucks, at it’s best was valued at $74.23 Billion. Statistics blister declarations. Death tolls surpass imaginations.

But my Mums saliva is still white as God on my hands. Your words a tractor to this land – let’s not go anywhere.

Sorry, we may not have a government, but we have a dance of stories sparkling close and strong.


Thinking of Joining? Tell us! :-)

14 Jan

Hello Mouthy World,

 I am not sure how much you know about Mouthy, you may have been in the collective for 3 years, you may have heard of us, you may have been to a session once or you may not know what I am talking about!

Until now, Mouthy has been open to new members every Friday we have held a session, because we want to be an open and diverse collective. Excitingly this has lead to the collective tripling (if not more) over the 3 years we have been in existance! However, the room is no longer big enough, and this take-up has lead to our provision becoming stretched for existing members.

As a result, we are having to pause our open recruitment policy for the next few months whilst we work out how best to provide for all the young, beautiful people interested in working with us.

This means, if you are interested, or know someone who is, instead of coming along to a session – please email us at mouthypoets@gmail.com and we will keep you informed of our plans to get you involved as soon as possible. Also, come along to our next show, Say Sum Thin 6 on the 7th & 8th of March at Nottingham Playhouse – jump on the open mic and get to know us, because we are eager to forge the most supportive path to get to know and support you as well as all our existing poets.


Warmest Regards

Deborah ‘Debris’ Stevenson & The Mouthy Poets

What is Mouthy to you? (Code of Conduct in Progress…)

13 Jan

Mouthy is growing faster than ever – we want to carry on supporting as many young people as possible, but the more work grow the more we must innovate how we can do that. Because of this, I feel its important we build an idea of who we are and what we believe. As with everything Mouthy, this is a conversation that started in our session last Friday… 

What behaviours, expectations and rules do you think should be impeded into Mouthy? What should we expect from everyone and tell the world we believe in. Please comment and add through comments, this is currently a working document 🙂 


  • Considerate Freedom of Speech. Everyone has the right to voice his or her opinions and be respected. However no one has the right to intentionally isolate or disrespect any individual with those opinions.  If this happens unintentionally, we should always approach these situations openly and respectfully.


  • Involvement & Support: Be as open as you can be and as involved as you can be – the degree of which everyone can be involved will be embraced without judgment and with support.


  • There is no bad but there is a better.


  • Eat your 5 a day: look after your physiological needs, so that Mouthy can provide for a higher level of development.


  • Be enlivening and radical.


  • There will be laughter, but there will be hard work too.


  • Be opinionated. If you know you have knowledge that can help me, give it to me.


  • Support Individuality.


  • “I miss Cleo” – let each other know who and what we miss.


  • A safe place to explore.


  • Come with an open mind.


  • Support; not just on the page & stage but mentally & emotionally.


  • Believe – in the power of the cultivated spoken word. Take the raw tools of language and sculpt them into a higher power.


  • Remain Diverse in every way forever.


  • Allow people to choose: participation will happen when and if you are comfortable.


  • A culture of questioning.


  • Encouragement.


  • Family.





Job Opportunity – Pastoral Care Director

6 Jan



Job Title:                                Pastoral Care Director

Responsible to:                   Artistic Director, Deborah Stevenson

Location:                               Nottingham based

Hours:                                    One year, one day a week contract –

Generally Fridays 12-8pm with some flexibility around events and other special activities, meetings and training, Aug – Oct this time will be re-arranged around your availability and Mouthy activity.

Pay:                              £3,600 (freelance, invoice basis)                      


“Often, hardship and isolation from the ‘norm’ gives young people a story and a need for catharsis: there isn’t vocabulary for their experiences, so they must develop their own.” The Mouthy Poets believe that young people deserve support and education in developing and expressing this vocabulary. Furthermore, by performing these stories to large live and digital audiences, others are inspired to articulate their own differences and listen to those of others.

The Mouthy Poets are an open community collective of approximately fifty 15-30 year olds, meeting on a weekly basis where they learn writing, editing, performance and event- coordination skills. Mouthy is a young and growing organisation, which, up until this point, has been fuelled by the passion of a small and largely voluntary team.

Newly awarded Grants for the Arts funding means that Mouthy can grow their organisational infrastructure and sustainability. The Pastoral Care Director Role, outlined below, will enable the successful candidate to play vital hand in an growing organisation supporting the 50+ young people within the collective. You will be joining Mouthy at an exciting time in its growth as it continues to reach young people through workshops, performances and research in Nottingham Playhouse, schools, Germany, America and soon, beyond.

You can find out more about Mouthy here:






The Pastoral Care Director will be managed by Mouthy Poets Artistic Director, Deborah Stevenson on a day-to-day basis. However, this post has additional reporting responsibilities to other members of the Mouthy Management Team.

Job Purpose

The Pastoral Care Director (PCD) will be based one day a week in Nottingham where they will work with Mouthy Participants:

  • Meeting each participant upon enrolment to the group, to gain a general understanding of their needs and to identify any potential support that might be needed or to signpost to other sources of support.  
  • Meeting with specific participants more regularly when referred by fellow participants, workshop leaders, staff or themselves.  
  • Attending the weekly 3 hour sessions (Fridays 5-8pm), participating and observing to suggest any further support, considerations, training or policy that might need to be implemented to provide pastoral care for participants and optimise the artistic purpose of the sessions.
  • Providing a clear personal and digital communication for the young people before Mouthy sessions on Fridays.

The emphasis is participant-centred rather than problem centred.  The Pastoral Care Director will be an:

  • Excellent role-model
  • Active listener
  • Acute observer
  • Encourager
  • Professional friend
  • Challenger of assumptions
  • Guide
  • Sign Poster
  • Trainer  
  • Policy Maker  
  • Reliable
  • Approachable
  • Non-judgmental
  • Perceptive
  • Empathetic


1.   Principal Duties and Responsibilities


1.1      Being available as a ‘non-authority’ adult to any young person in need of support.  In the first instance, all Pastoral Care Workers are responsible       for developing relationships of trust with young people.

1.2      Be available to offer one-off or continued one to one support to staff           referred or self-referred young people in need of support.

1.3      Communicate information/feedback when necessary with a young            person’s parent, carer, or Mouthy staff.

1.4      Develop and implement specific strategies and training in consultation with Artistic Director and other relevant Mouthy Staff to combat areas of need within the collective e.g. relationship issues, anger management, digital safeguarding usage etc. To work alongside the Lead Producer, to produce a Safeguarding Policy, E-Safeguarding Policy and any other relevant documentation, that is tailored to Mouthy’s requirements and train the relevant staff and participants on how to adhere to these documents. 

1.5      Lead sessions/exercises looking at various operational and best practice models, drawing on expertise of outside agencies when necessary.

1.6      Keep records of ongoing work and achievement, produce termly reports including statistical analysis of the work.

1.7      Assist in applications for funding by producing relevant information and data when requested.

1.8      Work with Mouthy to determine target groups/individuals and issues to work on.

1.9      Lead sessions/workshops on issues that promote self-esteem, self-worth etc. looking at topics that are barriers to young people reaching their potential.

1.10    Spend time in sessions as support to build relationships with        young people. 

1.11    Liaise and build a relationship with other support agencies e.g.     Connexions, Women’s Centre, Let’s Talk Nottingham etc.

1.12    Undergo training that is of benefit to the collective.

1.13    Seek the ongoing development of the project and continue strategic          planning with the line manager on the development of the project.

1.14    Research and gain awareness of issues that young people are facing and         best practice of how to effectively give support.

1.15    To attain targets and objectives as set out in Mouthy and as agreed with the line manager.


1.16    To take reasonable care and operate all relevant requirements of he        Health and Safety legislation, The Childrens’ Act and any other relevant           legislation in the performance of your duties.

2.      General Responsibilities

2.1      Other Duties

To undertake any other specific duties and responsibilities within capabilities as may be assigned by the Artistic Director, as necessary.

2.2      Discretion to Act:

To exercise discretion in the performance of the duties of the post and to use best practice commensurate with the safety of clients and colleagues, and the effective and efficient use of resources. 

To work within the guidelines of Mouthy policies and procedures.


2.3      Relationships:

To establish, maintain and enhance team-working with colleagues and staff of Mouthy and to keep confidential all information about individuals and the business of Mouthy. This will include attending Mouthy’s biannual key performances (7th-8th March & 18th July 2014).

2.4      Personal Development

To play an active role in the development and implementation of your individual development plan.


2.5      Association Ethos

To positively promote the aims, objectives, ethos and core values of the Association.



Please ensure that you address all the requirements marked with an “A”

in the final column as we will be looking for this information when Shortlisting


Job Title:            Pastoral Care Director




How Assessed*


1.1 Experience of working with 15-30 year olds


1.2 Experience and working knowledge of developing and implementing child protection procedures and practices


1.3 Experience and working knowledge of the issues affecting young people to-day


1.4 Experience in developing and implementing safeguarding and training policies.



2.1 Teaching or Youth Work qualification (desirable)


2.2 Knowledge of the local areas (desirable)


2.3 An understanding of how to store and treat confidential information.


Education/ Training / Qualifications

3.2 E-Safeguarding or Digital Safeguarding training


3.3 Counselling qualification.


3.4 Coaching qualification.


4.1 Ability to demonstrate effective communication skills both verbal and written


Skills & Abilities

4.2 Ability to train others


4.3 Ability to demonstrate good level of IT skills


4.4. Ability to relate to young people


4.5 Ability to be self-sufficient and emotionally resilient.



5.1 Able to support the core values of the Association


Other work related requirements

5.2 Willingness to undergo a satisfactory enhanced CRB or DBS check



*When Assessed – (A) on Application form, (I) At Interview, (T) During Test,

(D) From Documentary evidence EG References, Qualifications, driving license etc


Application Process

Please send the following to Mouthypoets@gmail.com by 5pm January 27th 2014:

1. Your CV (no more than 2 sides of A4).

2. A covering letter that explains how your skills and experience meets the essential criteria of the job (1-2 sides of A4).

3. (Voluntary) A completed copy of the Mouthy Poets Equality Monitoring Form, attached.

We also advise you prepare two signed references of approx. 150 words including contact telephone and email details. If you are shortlisted for interview, you will be requested to bring these with you.

Interviews will be in Nottingham on January 30th/31st, please ensure you can be available on these dates if shortlisted. All candidates should also ideally be available to start in the role on February 17th 2014.

Please ensure all documents are in Word or Pdf. format, electronic applications only.