Hold My Tongue Hitchin
By Rebekah Nicolas
An evening of poetry and art, we hosted three fantastic performers, including Sophie Gresswell (Hitchin’s Artist in Residence). A crowd of 40 were in attendance to hear some really powerful poetry, tackling themes of identity, heritage and belonging. There were two intermission breaks for opportunity to chat to the poets and one another, to engage with Sophie’s artwork, and for attendees to create their own envelope holding their story to contribute to Sophie’s project: Every Envelope Holds a Story.
Sophie, who had never performed her poetry live before, shared three amazing poems, with the first being the inspiration for the event’s title: Hold Your Tongue. Haneefah Muhammad spoke about her identity as a Black woman and how she had always been expected to hide her Blackness, but she shared the following words before her final poem:
“Poetry has given me a vehicle to express myself and not hold my tongue”.
Sidney Belony shared some spoken word on belonging and an extract from a play she had written. One special and slightly spooky moment came when Sophie was reading a poem about her Grandmother, only for the interactive painting of her Grandfather to start speaking in the middle of the poem!
A really special evening to celebrate the residency and the My Story project and to reach new audiences too; one attendee commented that it was the most well attended Poetry event he had ever gone to! Attendees will be invited back to the Exhibition evening on Friday 3rd December to see their envelopes amongst artwork created by Sophie.
Thanks go to Councillors Judi Billing MBE and Paul Clark for funding the event.