As a lover of live poetry readings as an audience member, I love to hear individual voices. You can give a chef a chicken and they can season and cook it 100 different ways. It’s the same with poetry, I like different seasonings in my poets.
Describe yourself in 3 words…
Playful, Serious, determined
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by curiosity and wonder and how we can maintain them. We live in a time where the imagination muscle is needed to flex and imagine a world that is sustainable, fair and interesting.
Tell us about your worst ever gig?
I don’t really have a worst ever. I have gigs that challenged me to toughen up, stretch and recognise that there’s a difference between me as the writer who writes for myself and the writer who is a product. The gigs where I wasn’t aware of this distinction were the hardest because you could make yourself vulnerable in less supportive spaces.
What’s your number one poetry pet peeve?
Poets who sound the same. As a lover of live poetry readings as an audience member, I love to hear individual voices. You can give a chef a chicken and they can season and cook it 100 different ways. It’s the same with poetry, I like different seasonings in my poets.
Whose words do you love at the moment?
Integrity. Aqualine. Witchery.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Care less what people think about what you want to say and how you say it. Your background is a lush bed of knowledge, insight and perceptiveness. Trust that. You’ll thank yourself later.
What’s a trip that changed you, and why?’
1994 going to South Africa with a 17 strong artist arts project. We were doing a massive storytelling, dance, drumming and drama project in townships and schools in Durban and Johannesburg. It was the first time for me, being a woman of African Descent seeing myself in the majority, and I was completely inspired by the way South Africans lived their lives passionately to the fullest. The song, dance and storytelling was incredible. It was a real culture shock. I came back to the UK and decided to go back to school, to University, and give my writer performer self her best shot. It paid off.
Zena is currently an artistic consultant for Apples and Snakes and has written a beautiful blog piece for us before entitled Comfortable with the uncomfortable. She has had significant input into Cece’s Speakeasy as a Producer and throughout 2021 has been able to seamlessly deliver the programme in London, Bristol and Nottingham – bringing together music, poetry and protest and nurturing emerging talent to showcase pieces around chocolate, coffee and climate change.
Zena features on episode 3, part 1 of our Apples and Snakes: The Podcast where she speaks about blending storytelling and music. Head to the ‘listen‘ section on our website or tune in on your ususal podcast streaming services.