Once upon a time a break dancer and rapper, now the founder of Urban Word Collective – a platform for aspiring urban poets. Shaun Clarke is part of our Bristol Voices series, making moves in Bristol as he brings together creatives from diverse, cultural and artistic backgrounds.
Where in Bristol are you based?
Tell us what you’re currently involved in and how you hope it can impact upon Bristol.
Working with a small team, I’ve created Urban Word Collective, a platform for aspiring urban poets. I’m also the compiler of Lyrically Justified, the poetry collection with a cross section of writers from diverse, cultural and artistic backgrounds.
Most recently, Urban Word Collective has launched a Crowd Funding Campaign for Lyrically Justified volume 2. The poetry anthology promotes some of the best underexposed UK talent of our time with 7% of book proceeds donated to young authors. Due to be published in September by Bristol’s Arkbound and with support from Ujima Radio, writers will get the exposure they deserve. The artists involved provide a unique and creative voice that adds to our UK city narratives.
What are the current issues and opportunities facing your area of Bristol?
I am new to Bristol, having moved from Leeds two years ago. In that time, I’ve come across a host of issues that affect various communities. Culturally there’s the lack of St Paul’s Carnival.
Other issues include homelessness, rubbish and rats, talked of prevalent drug problems, hate crime and institutional bias with racism at work, lack of freedom of speech, social exclusion, mental illness, politics, pollution and burglary. Urban Word Collective poets cover all such themes.
What do you like about Bristol?
The city is diverse and progressive in some ways. Opportunities can be created if we’re prepared to work hard and collaborate with others. Other assets include local libraries, community centres and it’s good that churches and Sikh temples are open to all. The fact that the city embraces local talent and promotes Banksy tours is also great.
How could Bristol be better?
Bristol’s diverse voices could be better represented across mainstream media outlets. Oh, and some dog owners need training.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I have two small daughters, and was a break dancer, then a rapper back in the day. Over 10 years ago my brother was shot by alleged gangsters, but the killers were never officially caught. I’ve channeled any dissatisfaction or negativity into music and words.
Do you have a piece of information or advice that you’d like to share with others?
I believe we can achieve almost anything conceivable, but to do that you need a good team.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
The crowdfunding campaign for Lyrically Justified volume 2 runs until the end of June 2017, and we need your support. Following in the footsteps of the first book, diversity is essential to this second instalment of the poetry anthology.
While all 25 plus poets are UK based, this is writing from a variety of perspectives. Bristol based writers include Miles Chambers, Splitz P, Charmain Lawrence, Lawrence Hoo, Sukina Owen Douglas, Yung Rhodsie, Solomon OB, Kabbo Ferdinand, Dareece James, Caroline Teague, Alexia Lindsay, Anndeloris Chacon, Tom Burgess and Koel Mukherjee.
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Read more Bristol Voices: Cheryl Morgan