Fortnightly Highlight 6: Poetic Imaginaries

Dear Friends,

This Fortnightly Highlight comes a little belatedly after four weeks. We have, like many, been overwhelmed by recent events. The ongoing fight for racial justice, the pandemic, the economic situation, the unknowing. Closer to home, the strangeness of working at a distance from our building and each other.

After the initial process of moving online, reviewing changes, pushing forward with equal and opposite forces, for some of us the furlough, the emergency stop, the slow consideration of where we are going next… Our mood recently has been contemplative. We have been taking time for reflection, research and regaining strength for the new challenges ahead.

In this Fortnightly Highlight we are thus turning towards the radical power of the poetic in imagining new possibilities. Contemplation experienced as a journey to amplification and action.

Below is a selection of poems, conversations, projects and workshops from The Showroom’s recent history that reflect ideas of belonging and change through deep reflection. We invite you to read and listen to work by writer and sound artist Belinda Zhawi, explore the 2019 exhibition 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy by philosopher Denise Ferreira da Silva and filmmaker Arjuna Neuman, and engage with its accompanying poetry workshop Preservation and Formlessness led by poet James Goodwin – all projects exploring deep contemplation as poetics of resistance.

Next month will have a new, exciting and timely programme to share with you.

Seema & Katherine

Seema Manchanda, Managing Director
Katherine Finerty, Assistant Curator and Communications & Development Manager, The Showroom

Image: Belinda Zhawi, Photo by: Theo Ndlovu.


Belinda Zhawi combines poetry and sound to explore the emotional landscape of youth migration whilst interrogating what it means to forge identities based on geographies. For the Collective Intimacy live programme last year at The Showroom and 180 the Strand, Zhawi as MA.MOYO presented SOUTH X SOUTH EAST, addressing what it means to have more than one home and further exploration of what home means.

The aim of the project is to explore the emotional landscape of these seismic shifts and how they can affect a person in their later life when thinking about identity. SXSE aims to explore loss and mourning of home or geographies through the use of poetry, vocalisation and music. The sounds featured in this project are field recordings and original works with musical contributions from harpist, Marysia Osuchowska and Caleb Azumah Nelson.

LISTEN: Belinda Zhawi’s performance at The Showroom from 21 November 2019 followed by a conversation with the artist and The Showroom Director Elvira Dyangani Ose



Image: Denise Ferreira da Silva & Arjuna Neuman, 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy, film still, 2019.

Denise Ferreira da Silva & Arjuna Neuman – 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy

For this exhibition last year, a philosopher and a filmmaker came together to imagine the possibilities of a world without time, measurement, accrual or notions of value – a world free from the destructive consequences of the Western mind. 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy is an immersive film installation by Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman, which considered urgent global issues including migration, displacement, legacies of colonialism and ecological devastation, asking what is possible if ethical thinking is stripped of value?

Presenting a reimagined cosmos – an alternative to the violent, segregated world we have inherited – the film seeks a primordial moment of entanglement prior to the separation of matter evolving into the planet we know, a time that Ferreira da Silva describes as ‘Deep Implicancy’. Engaging our whole being and embodied modes of consciousness – the visual and aural are combined to produce a polyrhythmic entanglement, displacing colonial hierarchies of conceptual and rational experience. An accompanying archive expanded the work in the Studio providing cognitive knowledge, research and contextualisation for the film.

READ: Arjuna Neuman and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s email correspondence between from 2017–2018 giving insight into their project research and process – now online in The Library

Image: James Goodwin, Poetry & Poetics Workshop: Preservation & Formlessness, 2019.

James Goodwin – Poetry and Poetics Workshop: Preservation & Formlessness

Accompanying the 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy exhibition, poet James Goodwin led a workshop responding to and activating the project’s research archive. Goodwin is a poet and PhD student (Department of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London) whose research is focused on blacksociopoetics, an approach to reading applied to a poetic, philosophical, theoretical, critical and ethical understanding of the social life of poetry.

The workshop considered four floating concepts – intuition, content, composition and form – in relation to the materials on display in The Showroom Studio. It involved reflexive and practical engagement with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman’s thinking through a guided discussion of selected readings set in advance of the workshop, a viewing of the film 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy, some time to read, look at and listen to the archive material, and individual and group writing exercises. Together participants contributed to and enacted the preservation and formlessness of the archive by thinking, writing, reading, sharing and studying the poetry written during the workshop.

EXPLORE: The full Bibliography from Preservation and Formlessness: A Poetry and Poetics Workshop

Selected readings:

Gwendolyn Brooks, We Real Cool, 1960
Etheridge Knight, Haiku, 1986
Fred Moten, Poetics of The Undercommons, 2016
Denise Ferreira da Silva, On Difference Without Separability, 2016

Belinda Zhawi: SXSE – Home Is, 2019

Home is of my mother’s village,
after the divorce - my village

  • of red dust hot days,
    of rattlesnakes, of small huts,
    of wild fruit, swollen wells
    & mountains, of empty wells,

of maize - fields,
porridge, pudding and harvests,
Of storms, rainbows, of locusts,
of herding goats, digging for water,
of naked swims, of streams, pools
and homesickness.

Of one letter from mother,
of small birds, of catapults,
forest shits and ghosts, of stars,
moons ago, since i last saw my mother

Of church, proverbs, and tales
Of lies, spirits, and ancestors
Of love, romance, and incestors,
of grass traps, bracelets, and hats,
of dry grass roof thatch, of

stars, moons ago, since i last saw my mother

in all this thickness i almost forgot
my mother’s name
said it like my mouth was a calabash
full of turned milk
Mother who left for a country that met
her like a wet slap
to the face. When i see her again,her face
is a stranger to me
and her hands are still hot and cold

Home is a cocoon
of warm water
that we left for ice and worn feet. x2

After a full frozen decade,
I’m surprised I still remember how it feels
to float in a cocoon of warm water

Home is the skin I’m in

A flower bloomed out
of my biro; spread itself into a corner
of a page - jagged pretty & ghetto
like the skin I’m in; like the skin I live in

Home is the skin I’m in


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