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Otis Mensah Presents:

Rhyme and Reason

Rhyme and Reason has now moved online. Scroll down for more information on upcoming events and click the tabs above to see what has already taken place!

Event 5: Home

29th June. Youtube.com/OtisMensah

7pm: Writing Home – A Creative Writing Workshop with Yvonne Battle-Felton
8pm: Mum’s House Philosophy – In Conversation with Awate & Suhaiymah Mazoor-Khan.

How do we conceptualise, capture and inhabit the essence of ‘home’? This is a question that has preoccupied the most revered artists, academics and activists in the past and present. It is an especially pertinent and pressing question for those who have been displaced from their ancestral homeland and, due to the legacies of colonialism and empire, find themselves residing within the (increasingly policed and static) borders of a hostile and violent nation state.

The collective need to answer these questions and address these ongoing conditions feels particularly intense at the moment, as we denounce the deportation of the Windrush Generation, grieve the third anniversary of the Grenfell fire, and protest against the global oppression of Black people; all the while remaining restricted to one residence during lockdown.

For our next Residency event, we have put together two activities which creatively explore the metaphysical, social and political significance of ‘Home’. Despite the wider context, we hope that by curating intimate, communal, educational and regenerative spaces that we go some way to capturing (what we at least consider to be) the essential components of home and enforce that – wherever you find it – home has the potential to be a space of love, resistance and radical transformation.

7pmYvonne Battle-Felton will be leading a free creative writing workshop for those who want to come together, in an intimate, creative and communal space, to make sense of, explore and (re)imagine our relationship with home in this strange and turbulent time.

To take part in this special event, please sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/writing-home-creative-writing-workshop-with-yvonne-battle-felton-tickets-110757861746

8pm – We will be joined by the exceptionally talented and insightful artists Awate and Suhaiymah Mazoor-Khan to discuss our individual concepts of home, our personal relationship to home (including whether it has changed during lockdown), and our thoughts on the social/political structures that condition them. Check it out live at Youtube.com/OtisMensah

Event 4: Rap Poetics

22nd June. Youtube.com/Otis Mensah.

4pm: A Rap Poetics Seminar
9pm: Art Rap Discussion with Open Mike Eagle

The presiding logic of many academic institutions and art organisations is that there is a fundamental difference between rap and poetry. More specifically and problematically, it is often held that rap music does not have the same inherent richness, depth and value ascribed to works that are conventionally identified as poetry. This has had a massively detrimental impact on the mainstream perception and framing of rap music, as well as the artists who produce it and the people who identify with it. It is our view that the logics underpinning institutional and organisational attitudes towards rap are both racist and classist in nature. There is no concrete distinction to be made with poetry, with rap being every bit as thoughtful, complex and moving.

Rather than spending time “proving” this assertion, the Rap Poetics event assumes the inherent value of rap and explores its full capacity as a form of art and educational tool.

4pm – In the Rap Poetics Seminar we will be joined by Seth Mehl and Loma Jones (School of English, University of Sheffield) to present an alternative approach to a literary seminar; one that embraces rap as an art form and includes elements of Hip Hop culture that are typically left outside of the classroom. After a performance from Otis, we will proceed to analyse the formal features of his lyrics (rhythm, word choice etc), discuss the major themes emerging from the song and ask Otis about the writing process behind it. This will be a pre-recorded session that is broadcast on this website at 4pm.

9pm – In the discussion on Art Rap we will be joined by a very special guest – Open Mike Eagle – as we explore the mainstream framing of rap music, the role that racist and classist systems play in this framing, and also – most importantly – the capacity of rap and Hip Hop more generally to educate and enrich our lives as a rich and relevant piece of art. This conversation will be live-streamed on Otis’s YouTube channel at 9pm.


Event 3: Safe Metamorphosis

15th June. Youtube Live Stream. 7.30pm – 9.30pm https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXxGjdL2szGIKb-Xl1LDSkQ/featured

Safe Metamorphosis is an exploration of the radical possibilities and power of transformation; a particularly important and timely conversation for us to consider during lockdown and amidst the urgent calls for change by Black Lives Matter and other activist organisations fighting for social justice.

Join Otis and special guests Johny Pitts and Warda Yassin (award winning writers of Afropean and Tea with Cardamom respectively) as we help launch Otis’s debut poetry collection: Safe Metamorphosis. After a reading and 1-1 interview with Otis, where we will discuss the major themes of the collection and the inspiration/process behind it, Johny and Warda will join us as we muse over metamorphosis and its relationship with language, home, art, writing, city spaces, education and journeying.


Event 2: Days Over Damson [Nostalgia]

6th March. The Diamond Foyer. 10am-4pm

The inevitable bittersweet. Relishing in shadows of fruitful times past is an experience of remnants. Though there is a joy and meaning in reminiscence, we are above and beyond the improv theatre piece of yesterday and no such rendition can recreate the feeling identical. The future is waiting and it all begins with those Days over Damson but finding balance between letting go and holding on can be wearying

Otis Mensah, Days over Damson

Days Over Damson is an exploration of the individual and social significance of nostalgia. We invite you to share memories of special albums, spin some vinyl and critically reflect on the emotional and material implications of fixating on the past.  

Join us at 2pm as we discuss this and more with special guest Danaë Wellington, an incredible poet, singer and co-creator of Nyara Creator Collective.

Check out Nyara’s interview with Exposed, which came through her work with Otis on a literary showcase for up-and-coming artists: https://www.exposedmagazine.co.uk/culture/wordplay-danae-wellington/


Event 1: Computers Outside [Technology]

13th February . The Diamond Foyer . 10am-4pm

What are the long term implications of the internet age? Does social media extend, sever or distort human connection? How does technology impact our sense of identity and shift social geography? Where does art fit in all this? Should artists embrace streaming and other online platforms or seek a return to analog? What ultimately is the desired relationship for art and technology in the future?

Come and reflect on, discuss and creatively express answers to these and other questions through music videos, Twitter poems and vinyl records presented by Otis.