On Friday 22nd June 2018, the aspirations of Juneteenth became a closer reality. Panya Banjoko pulled a blinder. At Neales Auction House 192-194 Mansfield Road NG1 3BH, not only did she speak her own words and launched a book but she gave a nudge and a nod to the things we’re all missing in everyday life: friendship and camaeraderie away from the marketing segmentation of life across class, gender, age and ethnicity.
By focussing on something she credits and revalues so many other things…
Above: Poets Panya Banjoko and Kei Miller bringing the news to Nottingham 22nd June 2018
With help from her many friends, the building (owned by Trinity Church who have supported the development of the brilliant art space and current one month exhibition developed by woman of achievement Veronica Pickering and her artist husband, Roy)
This is what Panya did.
She brought together poets across family (poetry with her daughter), race, age, class, gender and status to perform Saraa Rain, Ioney Smallhorne, Fonzse, Georgina Wilding, (Nottingham young poet laureate) and multiple award winning poet Kei Miller
So what did I hear? I heard the police (the people), in all their multiplicities.
I realised that we are all the police, we are all the high, the low, the good, the bad, the light, the dark.
In TS Eliot’s The Wasteland (or in it’s original polyphonic version, ‘he do the police in different voices’), the poet, realising that poetry is really like the performance of the news, the sacred and the satire is doing what othered poets are also doing, all the time.
Turn up the light, the volume, the controls: who sees, who allows us to see?
That he knew this, that they knew this is why, how social change happens, through the dialectical understanding of inclusion of all things in art, music and poetry.
Art is life.
The revolutionary american Last Poets, (the name references the last poets of Imperial Rome), pick up the same threads that WB DuBois stitched in 1911 in his Quest Of The Silver Fleece, a serendipitous title that through romantic, utopian fiction, gives back value and context to the lost labour of slavery.
It’s still radical today.
The Last Poets in the same tradition, throughout the centuries of being written in, written out, being underwritten as monsters or objects of value continue to write history as news. In this 1993 recording, Last Poet, Umar Bin Hassan speaks of Personal Things
and in her new poetry anthology, first performance of some of the poems last night at the former Neales Auction House, in Veronica and Roy’s wonderful space
writer, poet, playwright, Panya Banjoko, full of Nottingham, Jamaica and the world through her research and development work with the Nottingham Black Archive breathes the same air, sees the same dark and light that impels and strengthens her to write of Some Things (available on Amazon and from the poet).
Last night we were privileged to see the gallery, understand how poets till the ground, reuse and recycle the light bits and the dark bits of humanity.
It’s Light in August and Augustown and Jamaica and Nottingham, it’s Ian Fleming and Marlon James and Kei Miller, (as Kei Miller said) it’s the Quest Of The Silver Fleece it’s WH Auden and William Carlos Williams
Panya Banjoko is a phenomena. Ageless, angry, loving, generous for the ground for all of us, wherever we’re coming from as long as we can acknowledge our roots.
To be able to understand just what the news is we also need to use the space made by the churches, the enlightened landlords. There’s a party at the space tonight Saturday 23rd June to celebrate Windrush (Neales, 192-194 Mansfield Road)