Poet locked in arts center room to write birthday poem


Contact also revealed more details about how it’s marking half a century of arts and culture over the next 12 months.

A Manchester poet has been locked in a room at the city’s Contact cultural center to write a special poem as part of celebrations marking the venue’s 50th anniversary.

Georgie Brooke was voluntarily locked up at the Oxford Road arts center for 50 hours and had to write a 50-word piece of verse during this time.

They were given a bed and were fed and watered throughout the unusual challenge before emerging to read the special work at an internal celebration marking half a century of arts and culture at Contact.

The venue, which stands out with its extraordinary castle-like appearance, also revealed more details about what it will be doing over the next 12 months to celebrate the huge anniversary.

Georgia Brooke

Why was Georgie Brooke locked in a Contact room?

Contact came up with the idea of ​​starting the anniversary celebrations in style by calling out the young poets who were willing to be locked in a room inside the building for 50 hours and tasked with writing a poem during that time.

The room was equipped with a bed and arrangements were made for the chosen writer to be well cared for during his two and a half days in space.

More than 30 writers volunteered for the challenge and submitted short poems called tankas which Contact staff then shortlisted anonymously before voting for their favorite.

The winner was Georgie, who writes poetry about the overlaps between identity, personal growth and homosexuality. They earned an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester and are the founders of Chatback Poetry, a Stockport-based series of poetry workshops and zines that explore how young people can be encouraged to develop their self-expression through poetry funded by The Arts for Recovery Center.

Coincidentally, Georgie is no stranger to Contact’s surroundings as they also work as a sales and communications assistant in the arts venue.

Contact the theater in Manchester

Georgie was locked in the room early Tuesday morning (August 16) for 50 hours and released around noon on Thursday (August 18).

They then read the poem they created at a special party for Contact staff that took place that day, marking the venue’s 50th anniversary. As it was not open to the public, the poem was filmed and uploaded here.

Georgie said, “It’s been a long couple of days, but I’m so excited to share my article with the world. It really captures that Contact is a place that reaches out to people. But I’m also nervous, because I wrote this in complete isolation. Usually a poem is formed over weeks and with other poets, rather than 50 hours alone.

“The hardest part of the process was fitting it into 50 words – there’s so much I want to write about Contact, and it means so much to me, to everyone who works here and to everyone who has contributed to the legacy of 50 years.

“Then I realized that all I was trying to say was that Contact has a way of communicating, and that way of convincing people of something and making them feel held so they can growing up is the message that matters most.”

If not, how is Contact celebrating its 50th anniversary?

Contact has already announced its fall season which marks the start of its 50th anniversary, but has now revealed a number of other things that will be happening to celebrate the half-century milestone.

Contact will celebrate its 50 most renowned alumni, projects, participants and performances on its social media every week throughout the year, while in November Manchester playwright, performer and poet Louise Wallwein MBE, who has a long association with the place, will headline a special edition of the Cocktails and Cinquains evening.

Contact alumnus and actor Fisayo Akinade, who has been seen in Heartstopper and Atlanta, will host a special performance of 50 Things That Shaped Me in March 2023.

Poet, playwright and performer Louise Wallwein MBE

The celebrations will culminate next July when Bafta-winning Contact alumnus Sophie Willan, best known for Alma’s Not Normal, hosts The Big Banquet which will be a spectacular finale to the landmark year.

Contact will also perform a number of generous giveaways through a fun series of stunts over the year, most of them featuring the number 50 in one way or another.

These will include a 50m walk to give away a £50 voucher for the first person seen and 50% off shows for Contact members.

On a November day, anyone who calls Contact at the 50th minute of the hour receives a 50p ticket to a show and on National Hot Chocolate Day a free hot chocolate will be offered to the first 50 people in the building.

As well as looking back and celebrating the present, Contact says it will also use the milestone anniversary to begin shaping its future and defining what the next 50 years of arts and culture will look like at the site. Oxford Road.

What did we say about Contact’s anniversary?

Keisha Thompson, Creative Director and CEO of Contact, said: “Contact has been a huge part of my life for almost two decades, but the incredible history of our organization and its impact on Manchester goes far beyond that.

“For 50 years, Contact has nurtured artists, celebrated curiosity and created a safe space for young people to express themselves creatively. I’m so excited to look back on our accomplishments on our anniversary, but even more excited to set the vision for what the next 50 years of Contact could look like.

Keisha Thompson at the theater at Contact. Photo: Audrey Albert

Junior Akinola, Chairman of the Board of Contact, said: “It is an incredible achievement for Contact to reach its 50th anniversary. This success extends to everyone who has graced our doors in any capacity during this time, and I am proud of Contact’s incredible legacy that has changed many lives.

“In the next 50 years, I see us continuing our tradition of innovators in the arts while keeping inclusion at the heart of our concerns. Here are even more years of inspiring and transformative experiences for the next group of creative leaders, artists and our community. »

The special occasion was also marked by Contact alumnus Lemn Sissay OBE, who has become one of Britain’s best-known literary figures.

He said: “The recent appointment of Keisha Thompson as Artistic Director and CEO feels like a celebratory gift for Contact’s 50th anniversary.

Lemn Sisay. Photo: Hamish Brown

“As Contact it is a gift to Manchester, the North and the country. We are from home, our roots are in Manchester soil, our branches contact the world and our seeds float in the summer air , taking root in all the unexpected places.

“Contact does what its name suggests. All theories about theatre, art and community, whether local, national or international, mean nothing without real contact.

“I love the place. I have seen the work, the lives it has changed, the careers it has made, the love it generates… the more hope the less served. And how they illuminate!


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