Spotlight: Well Versed


10 Oct 17

Well Versed has become somewhat of a tour de force at Boxpark Croydon; a monthly event that not only guarantees creative freedom and positive vibes, but also delivers strong messages and the ability to express. On 25 October, Well Versed returns to the BoxBar for another night of visionary passion, and so we caught up with, founding member, Darren to find out more.

Tell us who you are and what you do.

We are Well Versed Ink, a community-based organisation born from Thornton Heath Arts Week in 2014 - an annual week-long celebration of the artistic talents in and around the area. We run poetry events, including the monthly night on the last Wednesday of every month at Boxpark Croydon, as well as special events fusing other art forms with poetry, such as painting. We also run workshops empowering children, young people and adults throughout the power of poetry - we feel it is so important that people of all ages are able to express themselves and to help maintain a healthy mind and body.

What can visitors expect from Well Versed at Boxpark Croydon?

An abundance of warmth and good vibes. We are blessed to have some of the most down-to-earth regular attendees who are so encouraging to newcomers, especially those jumping up on the open mic. We have at least 2 feature poets at every show, a blend of established juggernauts and up-and-coming artists who always bring their unique energy, clever wordplay and thought-provoking observations to the audience. Expect to come and engage in games throughout and meaningful conversation at the end.

Who have been some of the most memorable performers that you've collaborated with?

Now that's a difficult one; we have witnessed so many moving moments, including the most recent one where Usaama Minhas delivered such a powerful piece that we had tears flowing in the audience - he actually jumped off stage to console an audience member! It was a really heartfelt moment. Lionheart and Emmanuel Sugo, with their hard-hitting metaphors and subject matters - they are like battle rap poets! Yomi Sode, who has just finished a sell-out one man show at the Camden Roundhouse, shone during our first show, a collaboration with Musique LDN and Benna, a firm favourite with our audience who always shows why he has been commissioned by the likes of the National Lottery. Finally, we can't leave out our special open mic slayers who impressed the crowd so much that they were elected to become features - Miss Yankey, Hannah Ro, Jack Price and Latouche the Writer.
What advice would you give to anyone who is considering taking part in the open mic aspect of the event?

Get writing! After every show, we are guaranteed to hear 'I would love to write', or 'I used to write but...', and we always see a little glint of regret in their eyes. Life. Is. Too. Short. We have had the pleasure of seeing many come to the show just to watch but they end up performing; some have written something during the night and even freestyle'd on the spot! What they all have in common though, is that not one single person has said they regretted going up on stage. If anything, they usually want to go back on!

Here is some practical advice:

1. Whatever is on your mind or heart, get it on to the page and practice reading over it, you will discover your natural rhythm.

2. Once you are comfortable with that, you can play around with emphasising words and playing with movement.

3. Get up on stage and do your thing!

Tell us a bit more about the some of the workshops that you run.

Our workshops are predominantly geared towards children from the age of 7 upwards, but we also adapt them for young people and adults. We work in schools and embolden children to get writing and perform their poems in front of their peers and parents, whilst earning an Arts Award in the process. Poems from the workshops can be found in our first anthology 'Heroes & Haikus' and along Thornton Heath High Street, as part of a mural, in 2018.

Have you tried any of the food at Boxpark Croydon and, if so, do you have any favourites?

We have and the places we frequently hit are Get Juiced, we love their green juices, they give us life; Fish, Wings & Tingsthe roti is delicious, Cook Daily - that vegan pad Thai gets us every time, and we love Indigo, their biriyani is so fresh and flavoursome.

Finally, what was the last song you listened to?

Kelela - A Message. It's quite an underground RnB song so I was pleasantly surprised to hear it come on after our last show! Big shout to Boxpark for that one.

Well Versed returns to Boxpark Croydon on 25 October, click here for tickets. You can also follow Well Versed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.