In interview with the poet Chez Chung Blake

White room with a black chair on the left with "In interview with Shez Chung Blake" in big letters.

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.

Shez Chung Blake

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.

Words By in Support of UNICEF

Words By

Words By is a raw, reactive and inclusive initiative created in collaboration with Unicef Next Generation. It brings together writers and poets from all walks of life, uniting their diverse voice and providing a platform for their personal expression.

In October 2019, it will be releasing its first book, with 100% of book sales going to Unicef. For more information visit their website or follow them on Instagram. Want to be published? Words By is currently looking for poets and writers to feature in its book – email by August 16.

Poets Versus Launch Event

We are thrilled to announce that we launched the Poets Versus platform last night in The Poetry Café.

The first round of Poets Versus series was dedicated to the cruel reality of homelessness.

The poems read at the night were included in an anthology published by Tonic Sta Press.

Our sincere gratitude to all the fantastic poets who performed and to the guests who supported poetry and homeless people through their attendance and generosity.

Read morePoets Versus Launch Event

Poets Versus on Resonance Fm

Mark Coverdale and Michelle Madsen on Resonance FM

Today we had the pleasure of being invited to go on Resonance FM, London’s leading art radio. Mark Coverdale was the featured guest of Michelle Madsen, the host of Bears at a Panic, Naked and Laughing. Created by Madsen and Andrea Spisto, the show has gathered a large number of loyal listeners throughout its airing on 104.4 FM. Michelle and Mark talked about creative protest and the formation of Poets Versus platform. Both Mark and Michelle will be performing at our first event, Poets v Homelessness on 7th March 2019 at The Poetry Society. Take a listen to hear an hour of entertaining conversation about London poetry scene as well as wonderful music by artists such as Joe Solo, Ramón Ayala, and Hildur Gudnadottir.

Poet in Residence of Crisis To Perform at Poets v Homelessness

We are honoured to have Stefan Gambrell (aka Neanderthal Bard), the poet in residence for the homeless charity Crisis, join Poets v Homelessness and read his work from our anthology published by Tonic Sta Press.

A passionate campaigner, running workshops up and down the country on homelessness, here is Srefan’s poem If Everybody Is In, marking Crisis’s ten-year plan to #endhomelessness.

War on the Streets by Mark Coverdale.

Poets Versus proudly presents the video of Mark Coverdale performing his poem, War on the Streets. The video is accompanied by the song ‘Self’ composed and performed by Hildur Guðnadóttir. Hildur is a renowned composer and cellist. As well as orchestral and solo songs, Hildur has composed soundtracks for films such as Sicario: Day of the Soldado and is set to score the upcoming Joker film starring Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Todd Phillips.

War on the Streets is a poem of hope, indignation, and protest. The video was directed by Julia Smith and the sound was recorded and processed by Oscar Crawford. With special thanks to Mike at Touch Music Label.