You can listen to 'Where Are You From?' here.
This is a spoken word piece made in response to the question that anyone visibly ‘Other’ has probably gotten at one point in their life. The poetry is pretty well composed, Harry Alimo moves from clever line to clever line as he asserts his identity as someone from Birmingham. James Cresswell's music also enters the picture and gives the poetry a sense of grandiose that adds to the empowering feeling. However, the element that somewhat deflates the experience is Alimo’s delivery. Despite the poem being written from his perspective and the lines feeling personal, it’s almost as if there’s a strange disconnect between his voice and the page.
The piece isn’t just about his experience though, it provides a sweet and powerful portrait of Birmingham, with the subtle soundscape placing us in the vibrant environment which he describes. But crucially, as much as Birmingham is Alimo’s city and the focus is placed on that, there’s also an importance placed on the universality of the experience he describes. This could happen in any city to any visibly ‘foreign person’ so there’s a great amount of power to be found in such an effective poetic answer to the question at hand.
Where are you from? feels like the smart and effective response you’ve always wanted to give, but never could find the words for.
New Creatives is a talent development scheme supported by Arts Council England and BBC Arts, delivered in the Midlands by Rural Media. Check out our New Creatives coverage in the New Creatives Voicebox.