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'Biscuit Poets' group from brain injury charity Headway set to perform live poetry
OLLY CHESTER leans into the microphone and performs a passionate rap poem – about ginger nuts.
It follows an examination of whether the Jaffa Cake is, indeed, a cake or a biscuit, a deadpan piece about Wagon Wheels (which addresses the eternal question: ‘Are they smaller now?’), and odes to Garibaldis, fig rolls and other biscuit treats.
It is a rehearsal for The Biscuit Poets’ first evening of performance poetry, being held on Friday at Colbury Memorial Hall and features the collaborative work of the group of service users at Totton Headway, all of whom have suffered brain injuries.
The group came about when volunteer Jo Hillier brought a packet of biscuits in for a morning coffee session at the brain injury charity, and a few people started making up rhymes about them.
The next week she bought a different pack of biscuits and the group wrote another poem.
Soon the group was writing a poem a week, sometimes specifically about the biscuit in question, sometimes inspired by it. And of course, they were having plenty of tea and biscuits while they were at it.
This developed into a weekly blog featuring the latest poem, and now the show.
Olly has been coming to Headway for seven years, having sustained a serious brain injury in 1999 in a road traffic accident. He spent a year and a half in hospital and a further two and a half years in a care home.
He says that he has made massive improvements since his accident, most of which he attributes to his own will to get better, and greatly enjoys going to Headway once a week.
“There are so many activities to do that you wouldn’t normally do and the social side is really good too,” says the 45-year-old from Southampton.
“Headway has definitely helped my recovery.
The social interaction is so important. It offers so much and gives you continuous support.
“I hope the poetry night helps raise some funds for Headway because it’s so important.”
Shan Mohammed also suffered a head injury in a road traffic accident, in 1995.
He agrees that Headway has played an important role in his recovery and says that he likes being creative with the Biscuit Poets.
“I’m a bit nervous about the performance but I’ll also be excited,” he said.
Karl Nuttall, 26, has been attending Headway regularly since he suffered a brain haemorrhage aged 15.
As well as providing him with rehabilitation and friendship the charity has also helped him find voluntary work.
“Before I was the least social person ever,” he says.
“I would never go up to someone and chat to them before but I’m not even nervous about getting up on stage.”
Volunteer Jo hopes that as well as being a fun event for the Biscuit Poets the evening will help raise some funds for the charity and the profile of the blog, which also has a Just Giving charity donation link.
“Some of the Biscuit Poets are incredibly talented, creative, funny and bright,” she adds.
“Everyone needs a creative outlet and it can be an incredible force in rehabilitation. It’s amazing to see how creativity enriches people’s lives.”
- ‘An evening of Biscuit Poetry’ is on Friday March 15, 7pm at Colbury Memorial Hall. Tickets £8 on the door including buffet.
- Read the Biscuit Poets’ work at http://biscuitpoetry.blogspot.co.uk.
- For more information about Headway visit headway-southampton.org.uk or call 023 8086 2948.
Jaffa Cake or Biscuit?
It’s easy to make the mistake
Of thinking that this is a cake,
For years it has been debated
Ever since this biscuit/cake was created.
The Jaffa’s appearance will mislead
All those so keen to feed.
It’s a schizoid snack
That takes us aback,
In two minds about its status
It causes a taste hiatus.
Dark chocolate leaves us reeling
Whilst the orange centre is most a-peeling.
We’re glad it has no VAT
And almost zero fat,
The court ruled it’s a cake
But we still think it’s a biscuit fake.
Ginger Nut Hard Rap
Ginger nut respect to you,
Struttin’ wid me gang and crew,
Your spicy tang comes tricklin’ thru.
You is hard but not as hard as me,
And you’ll go soft as I dip you in my tea.
East-side, west-side whatever neighbourhood,
You’re so sic coz you taste so good.
Man you're fam an’ you raise my mood,
You is phat but not in size.
I is a hard nut, look into my eyes.