We’re proud to support Tasting Colour, the new book by A Blind Bit of Difference, an organisation seeking to broaden accessibility within spoken word, with particular focus on visual impairment. Tasting Colour launches on 17 October with a multi-sensory event. Miss Jacqui talks to us about being an artist, who happens to have a disability, and her experience of the project. 

A Blind Bit of Difference

My name is Miss Jacqui, I’m a Spoken Word Artist and songwriter (amongst other things) and I just so happen to have a disability. However, I’ve never let that stand in the way of my talents shining through. My love for music developed from recording the radio onto cassettes when I was really young, to wanting to know everything about how it all worked. And my love for Spoken Word/Poetry only came to light in October 2011, when I joined ‘Poets Platform’ led by poetry legend Kat Francois. Amy Neilson Smith, this project’s Sensory Poetry Educator and Creative Director got inspiration for this entire project from finding an old cassette tape in her family home. It included her 7 year old poetry-rants against the death sentence in foreign countries. Deep!

Zara Jayne, a deafblind poet, facilitator and actress from ‘A Blind Bit of Difference’ was also blown away by the audio nature in live workshop sessions with Amy, that allows creative flow free by rejecting writing or scribing and in this case…the Braille machine itself! Zara: “It’s amazing to see young minds at work, improvising Spoken Word, out loud, free of their Braille machines, whilst stepping into the new found confidence of life changing performance!”

I also love mixing it up! I’m fascinated by many different artforms. Theatre and music has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve been on the poetry circuit for about ten years now and I’ve been merging poetry with music for about five! Collectivity brings empowerment. I’m proud to say, as a disabled artist I am breaking boundaries and throwing my voice forward! I’ve performed at the 2012 Paralympics Team-Welcoming Ceremonies and Opening Ceremony and also am the youngest member of Gaeae Theatre’s Board. I splinter those boards!

I had an incredible workshop at Joseph Clarke School with some amazing young student-poets who just so happen to be vision impaired. The day started with the students taking me through ‘Tasting Colour’ – by the title alone I was intrigued and it already got me thinking. It was a concept that I’d never thought of, I mean like actually tasting colours and having to articulate what colour I’m tasting. I quickly learnt that my favorite colour (red) is always an intense flavor, whether it’s sweet, savoury or even extremely juicy! Zara Jayne also said “Being in-between the two worlds of disabled and none-disabled I have been exculded by both sides. With projects like tasting colour everyone’s included as we all eat and can experience the different ways our sense communicate and cross over. It’s an exciting way to experiment with synaesthesia that everyone for on different backgrounds can enjoy.’

As the students got more comfortable with me, they started to ask me questions that I may have been asked before… but this was different! This space prompted a raw honest about why I write and perform, what it means to be different and how to keep trying to change the world one poem at a time! I then performed my poems from ‘A Blind Bit of Difference’ to the growing group, who were now filling the classroom. Their faces lit up! Their questions and realisations about the fact it’s possible to perform professionally and have a disability made their smiles grow wider! I realised that this is what Spoken Word is all about – connecting all kinds of people. And I feel I am here to challenge perceptions of who can and should be allowed to create art and their platforms. The day was filled with deep thought and the kind of laughter from your belly – the talent is amazing!! They are unashamed of talking about things that might make others uncomfortable! Seriously, come see these wizards in action!

They reminded me of why I push for opportunities in the arts when it comes to artists that just so happen to identify as disabled. I honestly believe that creativity is a universal language!

Tasting Colour launches on Wednesday 17 October, 5.30pm at The Albany, Deptford. More info & booking