|Keisha Thompson and Reece Williams presenting One Mic Stand|
I was a member of Mancunian spoken-word collective Young Identity for the final few months of 2017, but it was in 2018 that I really got stuck in and attended regularly (before that it had been difficult due to me living in a catered university residence, with meal times clashing with workshops).
I now take part in the group every week that I can, and it has become like a family to me. Everybody has been incredibly supportive and has made me feel comfortable sharing my writing, even when I have only just written it and it still feels very raw.
Having a space to practise performing has been invaluable to me in a year when I have hugely increased the amount of spoken-word work that I do. It is also humbling hearing the wonderful work of the other writers - we are all so different, and I get to learn about the world in so many ways, through so many voices.
Special highlights have included attending One Mic Stand, Young Identity's own poetry slam, and being awed by the talent of the performance teams, and reading at the launch of our anthology No Disclaimers - such a lovely night of friendship and creativity.
I enjoyed curating a special Young Identity edition of Word Life, and putting together a feature on the group, interviewing CEO Shirley May, and poet and editor Frankie Blaus.
I was also delighted to review Keisha Thompson's show Man on the Moon, and interview her - Keisha was a core member of Young Identity, and her talent for spoken word, music and storytelling really inspires me.
Thank you to Shirley, who has been so encouraging to me, and to everyone at the group, with shout-outs to Toreh O'Garro, Nicole May, Nasima Begum and Roma Havers for making me feel so welcome.
I'm very much looking forward to seeing what is next for Young Identity in 2019.