In Warwick Arts Centre, I was sucked into the world of Lanaire Aderemi (also known as Verse Writer.) I payed my £11, expecting what I had always seen – someone at the front, reading their poetry to me for an hour.
But this transcended poetry.
Aderemi’s poetry was a hybrid between spoken word, acting, music, dance, art, storytelling; you name it. She effortlessly weaved the audience into her story by interacting with us at every moment, sharing experiences that we resonated with and empathising with our own woes.
Her section on black hair hit me hard. Memories of the dreaded hairdryer, the comb, and the heat damage that followed came flooding in – I was in awe of how she was able to use such mediums to recreate a shared childhood experience such as that.
At that point in the performance, it was clear to me that Lanaire Aderemi was made for this. It would be impossible to separate Aderemi from her work, because she is Verse Writer and Verse Writer is her – they are one.
Can we just talk about her outfit on the night? She’s more Fashion Week than Fashion Week. You all know that I love modest and editorial fashion – she rocked a chiffon, baby blue gown at knee-length with puffy mid-length sleeves and matching feather earrings – If anyone knows my fashion taste, they know that I’m a fool for humble dresses with proud earrings. And don’t get me started on her eyeshadow and the light purple cornrows into a high ponytail – the whole look screams très chic.
I loved the way she took us to church. She had the band take us back to African Sunday school with a sharp “Everybody blow your trumpet“. She also brought in the more somber aspects of faith in the Lord and shared with us a piece of Jesus – her confidence was unwavering.
She addressed the hurdles that black women face. Frustration seeped through the opening of her lips, as she tapped into the silence of the black woman. How we’re always told to wait our turn. How we’re told we are too loud and complain too much, as if there is no reason to complain. From there, she put forward her petition: “I AM BLACK, AND LOUD, AND PROUD” she said, over and over again, louder for the people in the back to let us all know that she would not retreat and wait her turn any longer.
She inspired me to stop waiting too.
She was so comfortable and in her element that we as the audience were able to feel as if we were her friends. We danced with her, we laughed with her, we sang along with her – I could’ve gone again and again until I knew her lines word for word, and yet I would still keep coming back for the acting, the music, the dance, the art, and the storytelling.