Top names and local talent at debut Stretched Lips poetry event at The Albion Rooms

Dean Stalham with ShamBolicK and D'jason G Wisteria

Top stars of the poetry performance scene join Thanet talent at The Albion Rooms –owned by band The Libertines – for the Stretched Lips debut this month.

The event, which promises a night of stories, poems, art and rap, is set to become a monthly fixture produced and hosted by Carlotta Allum and Dean Stalham from Stretch arts charity.

Stretch has been delivering arts projects to marginalised groups for almost 16 years and has had a base in Margate for one year. It.runs arts projects with prisoners, ex-prisoners, homeless, mental health groups and young people in care, making the arts accessible to some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Now the duo has teamed up with Dean Fragile, manager at The Waste Land bar in the Albion Rooms, to bring a ‘phenomenal’ slamming, rapping poetry showcase to the isle.

Heading up the event is Errol McGlashan, who has been nominated for performance poet of the year.

The Brixton spoken word artist is a multiple slam-winning poet who has also acted on stage, screen and community theatre.

He took up performance ‘slam’ poetry after going to an open mic night in 2011 when he was in his late 40s and has gone on to win awards across the circuit.

Also on the bill is Simon Miles, one half of the duo behind the weird and wonderful Cupboard Club which was based at the Rheingold club in the 80s, and Patrick Lyons, the mouthpiece for The Fat White Family and now leader of MeU. Patrick will be bringing a guitarist and saxophonist to accompany his set..

Poet Fern Angel Beattie specialises in prose on Women, Love, Sex and Death. Fern, who recently ‘came out’ to her dad while on stage in a live show, has released two collections, The Trouble With Love (From Trouble, With Love) through Lapwing Publications and the self-published Pendulum.

Representing Thanet will be Lukas Lucas, top slam poet, skateboarder and worker with The FAR Academy which provides innovative education to young people from disaffected backgrounds or who have had a negative experience of school.

Margate’s KeeKee Mckenzie  ‘ShamBolicK’ brings her poetry and rap to the event. The 27-year-old has been penning lyrics since she was eight-years-old and been actively gigging for the past two years.

She said: “My mum is my biggest inspiration. She has written poetry my whole life so I am used to listening to it. I come from a musical family so learned to rap as well.

“I’m still new to the scene but have been actively doing shows, poetry and rap, for two years. I am aiming in this show to make my poetry a bit lighter as the crowd will be mixed/

“I write, a song or poem, every day. I might not finish them but I always write something. I really admire Jill Scott, a soul singer cross poet, Her poetry is the most beautiful I have heard, there is so much depth to everything she writes.”

KeeKee met Dean during a show called Zone Out and  was inited to take part in an event at the Gulbenkian in Canterbury.

She said: “It was so much fun I said I would do anything else that he came up with. It’s nice to see someone so enthusiastic about entertainment in Margate,”

Politics, poetry and gardening

Another Margate representative will be D’jason G Wisteria who has lived in the town since 2017, moving to Thanet on the back of a single day trip to a friend.

The 56-year-old is a former member of The Poet Society in London. He had his first verse published in a  school magazine when he was 13 but ‘did not really do much for a long time’ until being persuaded to take part in a Camberwell poetry night in 2005.

Jason, who also has a politics degree, has exhibited a story telling piece at the Stretch Outsider gallery, managed by Dean.

The gardener and former boarding school student, who describes himself as ‘a bit posh,’ has also taken part in the Tongue Punch poetry nights at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Cliftonville.

The evening also includes an auction for a piece of work by artist John Prastitis who recently exhibited at Stretch Outsider’s Prison to Pavement exhibition at The Margate School.

John’s art featured in the Prison to Pavement exhibition

John has been homeless since January this year and Dean has been involved in efforts to fundraise enough for a deposit to get John back in accommodation.

‘Something new for Margate’

Dean said: “The poetry scene down here, apart from Tongue Punch, is a bit staid and not that well attended.

“We are bringing down people who are leading lights in the London poetry scene, something I have been involved in for about 13 years.

“They are coming to perform alongside local talent so hopefully we can learn from each other. The venue is ideal and we think this is something new for Margate, bringing a different form of poetry than people are used to.”

Dean Fragile and Dean Stalham

Dean Fragile said the Albion Rooms is looking forward to  welcoming the event, adding: “It’s for a good cause and we are more than happy to accommodate poets, musicians and artists looking for a space.”

Stretched Lips, which is being sponsored by Shanty Queen Rum, is free entry but will have a name on the door policy, meaning people need to sign up in advance.

It takes place at The Waste Land bar in The Albion Rooms on Friday, October 25 from 8pm.

Find the event page here