Shez Chung Blake debuted in Poets Versus last September in our event Poets vs Gender Inequality. Shez’s poetry is emotive and piercing, with imaginative commentary that skilfully makes the reader encounter a new, albeit overpowering, understanding of the world. We are proud to have Shez as the host of our next event in partnership with UN Women’s Safe Spaces Now initiative. In the run-up to our next event, Poets vs Sexual Harassment on 23 March 2020 at The Poetry Society, we decided to sit down in an interview with Shez and discuss poetry and social progress.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Always a tricky question for me. To label myself, I’m a thirty-something mother, teacher, poet living in London. My poetry often journals the journey of becoming able to sit comfortably in each of those titles. It’s definitely an ongoing journey.
How did your poetry career begin and what topics do you engage with in your poetry?
Poetry has been a good friend since childhood, but it was only during an abusive relationship that I rekindled the friendship so to speak. I started sharing some of my poems with close friends and they confided that they could identify themselves in the words. Poetry connects. We were able to discuss experiences previously taboo, dressed in shame or guilt. Being so open in my poetry was liberating. It really brought home the power of poetry. With the encouragement of friends, I started to submit my poetry to publishers and events.
What do you think poetry platforms and poets can do to tackle sexual harassment?
We all have to start with ourselves first! Ask ourselves, what programmes do we have? How do I contribute to the toxic masculinity in society? Am I using my voice and platform bravely and honestly?
As poets we have the power to make connections through our words and empower people to take action. We must make each word count.
You are a very diverse writer. We understand you are working on a play. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Motivation for both my poetry collection and the play I’m currently working on is to shine a light on the dark moments of emotional and psychological abuse in relationships. Often the abuse begins behind closed doors, making it difficult to see the warning signs and the chance of early escape.
Fantastic steps have been made in the discussion around domestic violence, but we still have so much further to go in identifying the insidious nature of psychological abuse.
At least 2-3 women each week are murdered in the UK by their ex or current partner. That’s a statistic we all have a responsibility to change. Through words, through art, through action.
To support poetry and gender equality, and to see Shez perform, book your place now for our next event, Poets vs Sexual Harassment, 23 March 2020, 6.30pm at The Poetry Café. Click here to book your space.