Review: YFL Presents

Dear Damsels reviews YFL:Presents 03/04

On a sunny Sunday, Team DD made the pilgrimage to East London and the St George’s Tavern to experience a Young Feminists London event. Long story short; we loved it. 

At the end of our afternoon spent with YFL, Jamie, the long-suffering (suffering in the sense of supplying feminists with alcohol for hours on end) bartender of the sadly under threat St George’s Tavern, said that pubs should be places “to share ideas and feelings” in an open, accepting space.

This acceptance is exactly the vibe that we got when we experienced a YFLPresents event for the first time. Speakers (of which there were many) got up, shared a part of themselves, with the audience – and were met with positivity and acknowledgement each time.

The main thing that we left thinking about on the DLR home was how the speakers we listened to were trying – be it through activism, work or performance – to change the conversation surrounded something unbalanced or amiss in our society. We don’t want to ramble on too much, but here are a few speakers that stuck with us.

photo credit: Young Feminists London

Vinay Patel is the scriptwriter of the BBC3 show Murdered By My Father. In researching for the show, which focuses on honour killings, Patel found himself having conversations with prominent women in his life – most specifically, his matriarch grandmother – that opened up doors of silence and assumed acceptance of how women are treated in his family, and in his culture as a whole. Patel recalled recognising his own privilege, and the need for communication between generations of family.

YFL features loads of brilliant spoken word poets and performers who utilised language and literature to leave us laughing and applauding. Emily Harrison performed pieces from her collection “I Can’t Sleep ’cause My Bed’s On Fire” – it was playful, truthful and so relatable. Particular favourites included “For The Man Who used To Have A Girlfriend Who Was Bi – Not Knowing She Meant Polar”, and the poems that she created around existing, problematic female literary characters – Ophelia and Lolita were referenced and mentioned as troubling tropes that are still seen in our modern day.

Belinda Zhawi’s poetry had a strong linguistic connection to and exploration of her heritage from Zimbabwe – as well as the slang and culture surrounding her upbringing in London. A co-founder of BORN::FREE , Zhawi was unashamed, confident and funny. In response to a question about if, as a woman of colour, she felt held back in poetry, she responded that “as I got older, I just cared less”, earning whoops and applauding.

Maria Ferguson  completely blew our minds with a performance from her upcoming show Fat Girl’s Don’t Dance. What started with singing “I Could Have Danced All Night” that then exploded into a nostalgia-filled, garage tune referencing framing of a standard teenage night out, Ferguson used rhythm, language, repetition and her presence in an electric personal piece on dreams, growing up, eating disorders and mental health. It was fantastic and we cannot wait for the previews.

We felt wired, creative and full after leaving YFL – full on other peoples talent, ambition and voices. Which is exactly the sort of response you want and would expect after spending time in such a pub, in such a place, with such bright young things.

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