Article by Khatija Hussain
Counting Words hosted its first official open mic night event for spoken word on the 13 September at Black Sheep Coffee, a small chain coffee shop in Euston, London.
The crisp summer evening was perfect for this spoken word night. I found it hard to find at first as the coffee shop was hidden between the large skyscrapers. But was eager to get there as it was something new for me.
The event’s host, Jessica Cooke invited creative writers and speakers to engage in a celebration of writing.
Counting Words shared the venue with another party who were louder but the performers who read their works were louder in their performances – although the microphone had to be adjusted to avoid some feedback, they made it work.
The dimly lit coffee house had a stage set up in the corner for the performers, many talented speakers didn’t just read off their phone screens, their words were alive in the air.
Jessica Cooke started the event off with a light-hearted poem about toast and how you could count on toast to be there for you, her performance eased the atmosphere and set a peaceful ambiance that would follow throughout the night.
Asim Rizki performed a wonderfully detailed extract from his short story ‘The Rider Song’, influenced by Ernest Hemingway and Katherine Mansfield, his story is about the lives of many characters during a different time period, his short story can be found on Amazon.com.
SM Jenkins, a lively and wonderfully charismatic woman who supported all the performers, read a set of her own poems which amazed the crowd.
Her first poem was influenced by her struggles with depression. Society sees a different perspective in the social media presence, people who post online, create this amazing life that leads others to think that they’re lacking in their own lives. It puts them down unintentionally. SM Jenkins portrayed her feelings remarkably adding a comical yet meaningful message that she would do something for herself and not look at the posts online. The littlest things she does would be her amazing life.
Her poem had a truthful message that affects today’s generation who are very focused on social media.
I could feel what each emotion poured into every word when one performer spoke about his battle with mental health. Just a simple act of getting out of bed was a struggle for him, not because of tiredness or wanting to sleep more. But it was because his mind, the voice that spoke to him about his self-worth and slowly convincing him that his days would have no meaning to him.
His inner voice fighting him into a pit of darkness that would put him down. He compared his day to others, seeing others get out of bed, they have their lives sorted. But do we really know the truth in what they are facing? He continued to pour his feelings and promised to stop comparing his day to others and vowed to make small steps, ones that would not scare him but would give him a sense of accomplishment that would get him out of bed and to help overcome his battles.
With every written work performed, the crowd were open minded and supportive. Each performer spoke about something personal or an inspiration. This motivated me to be spontaneous and perform a poem I had written about my battle with cancer. Performing in front of a large crowd is not a strong point for me but this small and cheerful crowd accepted me with open arms.
The first poem was interrupted as the scariest thing happened, my phone had died in the middle of my performance – a performer’s worst nightmare. This was the icing on the cake to add to my nerves. But the crowd clapped and clicked their fingers in support and patience. I finished my second poem about my battle and ended the night with a smile on my face.
Counting Words is the perfect place to meet like-minded and talented individuals. Go for a reading or a performance, you won’t be disappointed.