The third in a four-part series of woodland sessions with Brainchild Festival. Watch the rest of the series.
Slam The Poet is a Lewisham artist who is interested in the musicality of language, particularly its percussive qualities. Their work combines deep and complex lyrical content with powerful rhythmic delivery, pushed further by collaborations with musicians like Vels Trio, Footshooter. Alongside his work as a poet and musician, Slam is facilitator and producer, most notably with Steez, which they helped run for three years.
‘Standing Near Pained Blades’ comes from an early draft of a 2019 play Slam co-wrote called Crowded, themed around youth mental health and their first-hand experiences. Set at a community day festival, it imagines someone watching kids run a race, reflecting on how normalised competition is in our lives, and the damage that can be inflicted on young people through constant testing and measuring their value against their peers.
The work is presented as a duet of instruments without rhythm section, between Slam’s housemate and Jazz Re:freshed family Rosie Turton on trombone and Rosie’s bandmate Johanna Burnheart on violin. “I’m really interested in the musicality of language, particularly how percussive it can be”, Slam says, reflecting on the synchronicity of the poem’s subject and the location of its performance. As a festival that prioritises community and collaboration, “countering the normal narratives around value and competition,” Slam sees Brainchild as the perfect place to perform the poem and experiment with its form and tone.
Brainchild is an award-winning not-for-profit festival taking place every July in the south of England. In the absence of this year’s edition due to Covid-19, we’ve collaborated to create a series of four woodland sessions with their 2019 lineup.
Film by Toby Haygarth and Arabella Turner
Producer: Matilda Verrells
Executive Producers: Marina Blake, Aaron Levitt and Andrew Mensah
Sound Design: Par Carlsson
Camera Operator: Abigail Holsborough