LUX’s Contributing Poet Rhiannon Williams puts the spotlight on British poet Bridget Minamore this month, exploring her unique portrayal of love and her vision for Brainchild festival.
Bridget Minamore′s poetry is red hot. Addressing race, feminism and popular culture in verse that scalds, this epic young British poet appears to be everywhere at once these days – the poetic version of a catchy new tune. However, her star has truly been accelerating in its ascent since the publication of her pamphlet ‘Titanic‘ (Out-Spoken Press), a collection of poems which hilariously and hauntingly dissect what it means to love another. In ‘Titanic’ she uses the most famous disaster story in history as an analogy for a rocky relationship, writing with a spotless humour and style that tangos with your emotions. The excerpt below shows how Bridget portrays the way the violence of doomed love can be transfigured into dark humour, which nevertheless calls out to our deepest fears of being bereft – or shipwrecked – in love, desperate for the beloved to stay:
I want to cut your legs off
not so you can’t walk away,
more in the hope you’ll stay
exactly where I want to put you.
Her talent for a sentence that can leave you floating on pure emotion has done exactly the opposite of the doomed ship, buoying her up and into a stratosphere of significance, and marking her out as a striking new voice of a generation. When I asked what drew her to using this imagery of the ship, Bridget shared her thoughts: “I always felt so embarrassed writing or reading poems about love or heartbreak, and the imagery gave me two things: a crutch to hide behind, but also a level of humour that made everything easier. I’ve always loved being near water, whether its canals or the sea, and back in Ghana my Dad’s whole family live right next to the largest man-made lake in Africa. But I have this real fear of it as well – I can swim, but I get nervous when I’m actually in open water. So subliminally there must be a part of me that compares the open water of the ocean to love: home and comfort, sure, but also terror. The Titanic sums all of that up for me.”
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Although the symbolism of the distressed ship is one that has been used by poets throughout history – Horace’s ‘The Ship of State in Troubled Waters’, Rimbaud’s ‘Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Ship)’, Bridget guides this metaphor firmly into modernity by using popular song lyrics in her transitions between poems, and colloquial language. The overall effect is ground-breaking…or should we say ice-breaking?
Not just a poet however, Bridget has her fingers in all of the creative pies; she has worked with the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, represented the UK at the International Biennale in Rome and has even masterminded an incredible music and arts festival, Brainchild. And through her journalism she tackles burning issues that many are afraid to speak out about – for example the concept in fashion of the colour ‘nude’ and the unrecognised problem that it causes for women of colour who just want to find a pair of skin-coloured tights – something which should be guaranteed for all women.
Furthermore, her writing invariably leans towards promoting those who are in need of a spotlight, for example she champions the (long overdue) rise of black female DJs, such as Jordanne of GCDJ (Girls Can’t DJ). This is also where her Brainchild Festival comes in. Because instead of just talking about change, Bridget does. “The answer lies in visibility,” she wrote in a piece for ‘The Debrief‘, and at Brainchild each July, Bridget provides the vital visibility that up-and-coming music, poetry and dance stars need.
Bridget was one of the founders of Brainchild, a quirky festival in the United Kingdom – it is very literally her brainchild. Nestled among the grounds of the Bentley Motor Museum in rural East Sussex, the chilled out setting comes with a surreal wildfowl park and miniature railway in tow. In addition to running it, Bridget took to the Brainchild stage this year to perform her poetry, as well as run a discussion about the housing crisis in Britain – and this combination of acts acutely captures the feel of the entire festival; subtle, cerebral and important, the achievement is a melange of conference and intellectual discussion in addition to the vibrant festivities.
Brainchild is volunteer-run, and yet endlessly inventive, even more so than the giants of festival Britain like Glastonbury and Reading which are simply too crowded to be truly intimate or different. In contrast, there seems to be no end to what Brainchild puts on, from silent discos made hot by the cutting edge GCDJ group, to the on-site art installations which also created a centre of gravity this year, such as the out-of-this-world geometric playgrounds of Kristi Minchin. There was even an act called 5 encounters on a site called Craigslist featured on the line-up this year. When asked about her vision for Brainchild, Bridget discussed how it evolves with each run: “Each year it’s got easier to know what our vision is—these days, I’m pretty sure we all want to create an inclusive space for as many people as possible, a place that’s fun but also engaging enough to make you think. But also fun. Retaining the intimacy is probably the next most important thing, as it’s something we’re really conscious of the larger we get.”
Bridget Minamore’s work with Brainchild is a testament to her talents. Playing on the word ‘brain’, the festival describes itself as ‘a meeting of minds’, a network and safe haven for people in the arts to push their talents to the forefront of the stage – and it is because of Bridget that this creative network has become so strong. It can sometimes seem that the options available for young people to forge a career from artistic abilities are diminishing every day in Britain, due to lack of funding and the troubling expectation that they will work for free. However, Bridget’s work demonstrates how this is not necessarily true. I will be looking out for more of her presence in the future, as I am sure that the name Bridget Minamore will continue to be trailblazing, taste-making and trendsetting in the poetry world; she shows us how it can be done.