Performing for the first time with us is Desree, 13:05-13:30 Friday; 16:05-16:30 Saturday . If she’s new to you/ you’d like a reminder, read on:
In her own words:
“Desree is a spoken word artist, writer and facilitator based in both London and Slough.
“Having graduated with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Drama Studies from De Montfort University, Desree is no stranger to the stage. An advocate for community arts and youth projects, Desree began a night called #OMN in 2014 in her home town of Slough. It was started with the aim of giving individuals of all ages and skills, opportunities and essentially encouragement. It was at #OMN that Desree performed spoken word on stage for the first time.
“Currently Artist in Residence for poetry collective EMPOWORD, and an Ambassador for MQ; Mental Health Research Charity, Desree explores intersectionality, justice and social commentary, occasionally throwing in a f*ckboy poem.
“In January 2018, Desree earned the honour of competing at the prestigious Hammer and Tongue National Finals at the one and only Royal Albert Hall. Having missed out on first place with a 9.6 compared to the winner’s 9.7, Desree is proud to have represented women of colour as one of the only two in the competition, with her poems highlighting the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Black Girl Magic.
“Desree has featured at events all over the UK and internationally, including Bowery Poetry Club, Bestival, WOMAD, Heaux Noire, Word On The Street, Sofar Sounds, Folked Up, Sunday Assembly and Greenbelt Festival alongside World Poetry Slam Champion Harry Baker, Young People’s Laureate for London Caleb Femi, award winning British poet and playwright Toby Campion and habitual slam winner Vanessa Kissuule, and supported rapper, poet, and political activist Akala at It’s In Your Head in September 2017, to name a few.
“Desree has regularly appeared as a guest alongside Bridgitte Tetteh on BBC Radio Berkshire to discuss current affairs and had her work published in Spoken Word London Anti-Hate Anthology, Mindful Seasoning Magazine and broadcasted on the television channel London Live.
“Desree has delivered a TEDx talk at Bath University titled Poetry and Self-Esteem; Finding Truth with Words, and is also, a spoken word educator and facilitator. She uses her art to engage with young people and adults in schools, youth groups, offices and organisations – anywhere with people who have a story.
“Having been commissioned alongside two other spoken word artists, to develop and write a new show with Apples & Snakes, Desree, Laura Rae and The Slam Poet, will be touring the show CROWDED, across London as part of the SPINE Festival 2019.
Following a max-capacity launch night, Desree’s self-published collection, titled I Find My Strength In Simple Things, was released in 2017 and she has her sights set on a second collection to be released in 2019 alongside a few music based projects.”
As with Toby, the first time I saw Desree perform was at Edinburgh Fringe, where she qualified (in the exact same dingy, rowdy, haunted space as where I first saw him!) in 2017 for the 2018 Hammer & Tongue National Final, much to her surprise (I got the strong impression that her triumphantly grinning friend prodded her into it!). She was streets ahead of the rest of the competitors that night, and it was really exciting to watch her rise rapidly through the two day competition of the National Final to be beaten in the very final round by only 0.1 by the eventual National Slam Champion. Every time I’ve seen her perform – either as a slammer or a featured artist at Hammer & Tongue Cambridge, she’s devastated me with her words and stage presence. She combines accessibility and gorgeous language with a strong political voice about some very important topics, and manages also to be hilariously funny when necessary. I’m really looking forward to seeing her and the blast of energy she’ll bring with her to the Festival this year.