I am Neal Pike, a poet, performer and theatre maker from Nottingham. I joined the now defunct poetry collective Mouthy Poets in November 2013, after deciding to start writing. Up until that point, I’d never really had the confidence to write, but sometimes life demands you top try new things, and in this case, I had to write.
The artistic director of Mouthy Poets, Debris Stevenson, really helped me to develop my writing and performance, and recommended that I read an anthology of poetry by disabled poets in America called Beauty is a Verb. To back-track a bit: I have dyspraxia and a stutter. I’m not always sure that I’d class myself as a disabled poet though – my disabilities are part of me, but not all of me, and I like to write about all of my life, rather than just thing one section of it. Still, reading the Beauty is a Verb anthology started cogs whirring in my head, and I thought to myself why doesn’t England have a disabled writing collective?
The idea took further shape when I got talking to American poet Adam Falkner at an Arvon retreat in September 2015, and he encouraged me to explore it further. Then I discussed the idea with a very good friend and fellow poet Marisa McKeith, and we started brainstorming ideas about disability and collectives.
Cogs began whirring in my head, and I thought to myself: why doesn’t England have a disabled writing collective?
Then life got in the way, as life does, because its life and it’s like that. But the idea stayed in the back of my mind, and I mentioned it to people when I remembered and everyone I spoke to about it thought it was a great idea. Then, in 2017, I was finally ready to put plans in place. Nottingham Playhouse were keen to come on board as partners, and Nottingham City of Literature also wanted to help. Then, we applied for funding with UNLIMITED, an arts organisation that supports performers and artists with disabilities in the UK. Now, I am happy to announce that Tentacles, a disability writers’ collective based in Nottingham, is launching, with our first workshop due to take place in May 2018. Tentacles is supported by Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Nottingham Playhouse, and funded by the commissioning programme UNLIMITED, which itself is run by Shape Arts and Arts Admin.
Tentacles is a collective for writers, performers and theatre-makers with disabilities. The workshops, which focus on writing poetry and spoken word for performance, will take place on the last Wednesday of every month from 5pm to 7pm, and the first session will be taking place on Wednesday 30th May. We will also be working on a series of podcasts with disabled performers and bi-weekly five-minute youtube writing prompts too. The aim of the workshops is to challenge ourselves creativity, while ensuring that the workshops are as accessible as possible to all those with disabilities. We aim to foster a safe space for disabled writers, poets and performers, and we welcome writers of all ages and abilities.
The workshops themselves will be run by myself and Maresa MacKeith, with the odd guest facilitator too!
If you are interested in being part of the collective, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tentacl00191626 for all the upcoming information on sessions and performances.