Born Lippy: spoken word bringing people together

Born Lippy at Cobalt Studios offers an amazing experience.

Kate Benson
21st February 2022
Image credits: Twitter (@BornLippyNE)
Born Lippy is an eclectic spoken word event with poetry slam, comedy and hip hop, hosted by Donald Jenkins in Cobalt Studios on the 2nd  Wednesday of each month. Last week, I went for the first time.

The pre-event poetry workshop was the first writing workshop I had attended, and I loved it. Don was a great teacher, giving us exercises to help us put together poems. Many of the class had more experience than me, but it was for any level, and I came out of it with 2 poems, one about my favourite food – potato waffles! Not very good ones, but a lot better than I expected I could do.

The atmosphere in Cobalt was great, the pink lighting and inclusive nature set the mood for the night. The event had political commentary throughout, starting with Don’s intro about Nick Forbes, Labour’s Newcastle City Council leader who has just been deselected prior to local elections. Victoria Morley was the first act, her letters from Queen Victoria were captivating and funny, and her poem A symphony of connections illustrated perfectly how we move through the world, and how we can be ourselves.

The poetry slam came up next, with four poets coming on stage competing for a paid slot at the next Born Lippy event and three judges from the audience rated them out of 10 for content, performance and crowd response. The poets were all amazing, doing 3-minute poetry slam performances which all got high scores. Two of the performers, Nathan and James, tied and had to come back on at the end, with James winning in the end with his beautiful and lyrical poetry.

Jeff Price came on next reading poems from his book Infinite Threads where he explained how photos taken by Chris Collister led him to write each poem – as a dialogue between both forms of art. He had humour intertwined throughout and was clearly a poet with a lot of experience, and his next show will be with Kate Fox at Northern Stage on 3rd March. Donald Jenkins then performed his hip hop, with a song about him having started it late in life with some audience participation which was great.

Sophie Sparham was excellent on stage, reading a selection of poems from her most recent book The Man Who Ate 50,000 Weetabix. She has written for Radio 4 and the People’s History Museum, focusing on social and political subjects, such as depression and LGBTQ+ issues. She talked about finding joy in the small, mundane and the weird which I love and think is how we get through life. Her poem Ode to Ode was magical and I would highly recommend watching her live and buying her book. Shakk closed the night, a hip hop artist from Middlesbrough whose words were raw and honest. His performance captivated us with his humour throughout and amazing stage presence.

All in all, definitely get down to the next Born Lippy at Cobalt Studios – it was an amazing night and I will definitely be going back, maybe I will even give the poetry slam a go one day.

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