Friday, September 4, 2009

Inua Ellams: Bookslam 03/09/09

Ben Pester writes:

Nigerian poet, living in London, formerly of Dublin, Inua Ellams has just returned from Edinburgh where his one-man live poetry show ‘The 14th Tale’ received a Fringe First award.

He read 4 poems at last night's Book Slam (he doesn’t read, nothing is on paper, but still he calls it reading) and in all of them was something to overwhelm the audience.

Ellams’ reading style, always in motion and alive with his work, is clearly intentionally performative and resonates with the rhythm and lyricism of his words. For an audience open to listening to novelists and poets simply reading from their books or notepads, it made for a hypnotic experience.

See video below for example of ‘The 14th Tale’.

Inua’s consistently autobiographical, 1st person work hints at a fascinating engagement with the notion of ‘Self’ and place when writing along contemporary post-colonial lines.

Taken as individual works, the personal voice in all the poems read was unflinchingly, joyfully confident. The voice of a self-declared trouble maker. It instantly raised questions about the narrative of the wider work. How much of this is self-consciousness? Bravado? What does a journey like his do to the poet's self-perception?

Will know and blog more on this when I’ve read his book and seen him read more ( I hope a lot more).

In the mean time ‘The 14th Tale’ is touring throughout October/November – more info at,, and youtube

Book available here:

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About the Project

'Beyond the Linear Narrative...' is a 3 year AHRC funded research project being carried out by the Pinter Centre for Performance and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Taking Pinter’s work as a starting point for, or symbol of, the fracturing of narrative across many art-forms in twentieth and twenty-first century work, this research project asks a series of questions about the links between inter-cultural and political change and the emergence, or re-emergence, of non-linear and fractured narrative.

Focussing on literature and performance, particularly in postcolonial and diasporic contexts, it will ask why non-linear narrative has been such a feature of this period’s artistic production. If these fractured and experimental forms are a response to the breakdown of the west’s grand narratives of progress, what forms of resistance or revision do they provide?

In what ways can they be seen to emerge from the increasing interaction of different cultures in the colonial, post-colonial and post-Cold War world? How do such fractured narratives work in postcolonial and diasporic writing and performance? How can these fractured forms explore our culturally diverse society’s competing and conflicting narratives?

The project addresses the ways changing understandings of the self have contributed to the disruption of linear narrative, and in particular, how fractured narratives enable the move away from the Cartesian mind/body duality to an understanding of the embodied self, making the writing of the body such an important element in contemporary performance, fiction and life-writing.

About the Pinter Centre

The Pinter Centre for Performance and Creative Writing is an interdisciplinary research centre at Goldsmiths University involving principally the Departments of English & Comparative Literature and of Drama, with links with Media and Communications, Music, PACE and the Digital Studios.

In line with Harold Pinter’s keen awareness of the centrality of political issues, the Centre is particularly committed to looking at postcolonial and diasporic literature and performance, and the ways in which contemporary creativity is forging new forms that respond to the cultural diversity of the world in which we live. It also has a strong interest in questions of gender, and writing and performing the body.

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