Lessons of New Cross: poet Jay Bernard at the Last Word festival

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In 1981, 13 young black people were killed in a house fire in New Cross, south-east London. The fire is shrouded in mystery and controversy; it was never confirmed whether the fatal blaze was accidental or deliberate. Poet Jay Bernard, pictured, writing in the voices of those killed, and using archive film, video and audio, will be asking what can be learned from it in Surge: Side A, just one of the spoken word events lined up for the Last Word festival at the Roundhouse in London from 25 May to 10 June.   

Other shows include The Things I Would Tell You, an anthology of poetry, prose and memoir bringing together the works of over 20 women writers of Muslim heritage, and hosted by the book’s editor, Sabrina Mahfouz. Vanessa Kissule takes a playful look at “our conflicted relationship with our bodies and sexiness” in Sexy, while Grey Matters features a group of young poets from the Theatre Royal Stratford East, mentored and directed by Kat Francois, relaying their own experiences and those of others surrounding the issue of mental health.

Other spoken word performers and events at the festival include Salena Godden, John Hegley, Caleb Femi, Raymond Antrobus, Francesca Beard, Erin Bolens and Tongue Fu. More details

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