An Artist Does

Lodged in a strange town for an event days before the Brexit vote, I overheard some pub conversations…

Old ladies engaged in an animated discussion on how useless, rude and stupid young people are. Brothers about my age diverting chat for a moment to confirm that neither cares about voting or politics; “none of it affects my life!” one concluded.

No way would a scientist draw any consultation from these snippets in time… but an artist can. An artist does.

Why are we so happy to dismiss others and events? What can be done? What can I do?

These were the questions playing on my mind while I led a workshop; ‘Creative Entrepreneurship for Students Torn Between Carrier Options’ where the answer appeared…

For me the workshop was not clicking, until my poetry performance. Disengaged became aware and engaged. On the long bus journey from London to my next stop, the issue became clear:

We struggle to engage with each other because it’s scary to take that emotional leap with strangers.

If those old ladies had smiled and talked in a way that invited me into their conversation, I may have joined and they may have discovered at least one young person who isn’t useless, rude and stupid.

And I empathise with the boys, but also know the only reason I care about politics now is because people I admired took time to speak with about education in a way that helped me see that everyone, including me, matters.

So thinking about this gulf between people, and the fear this creates, I swelled with anger at the truth I’ve never spoken with my own neighbours. They were strangers.

Years of awkward hello’s and shyly exchanging Christmas cards because of duty rather than any real concern or interest. How can we ever feel safe in a community of unknowns? Better locks can not be the answer forever.

What if I could do something to change that, I thought, with poetry?

See what happened at the first ever Stones Throw Show for those living on my street…

Stones