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Poet explores the legacy of sound system culture

DREAM TEAM: Khadijah Ibrahiim, Malika Booker and Vahni Capildeo will be performing at the Leeds event

SUCH phrases as “pull up my selector” may be a key part of the dancehall experience,
but now they could be considered poetry.

That’s thanks to Leeds poet Khadijah Ibrahiim, who has developed a symposium retrac- ing the roots of sound system culture.

Turning the volume up on Caribbean culture in the UK, Khadijah will be breaking sound systems down to their core components to archive their history and social role in the city.

Following on from the British Library’s successful exhibition Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land last year, the inaugural Collections in Verse showcase, funded by Arts Council England, will celebrate the Carib- bean community’s impact on the cultural landscape of Leeds.

Looking at music, fashion and language, this lively takeover event at Leeds Central Library will feature live music, poetry, performance, talks and real-life stories. So, if you ever wanted to know exactly what the roles of the selector, operator and deejay are, the showcase, taking place at the Reginald Centre in Leeds on March 12, is the place to be.

Along with other artists – Maverick, Sparta, Magnum 45, Jungle Warrior and MC KD Ranks – Khadijah will be riffling through the archives for early audio and video footage of sound systems in the UK to see how they evolved and operated.


They will take the audience through everything from white labels to sound clashes. Born and bred in Leeds, Khadijah, below right, is poet and playwright and founder of Leeds Young Authors.

She is currently working with the Reginald Centre in Chapeltown exploring African Caribbean folklore and music traditions and their place in the UK pre and post-Windrush.

As one of three locally commissioned poets for Collections in Verse, she inspired by footage of dub poet Mikey Smith featured in the Windrush exhibition to explore the role of the griot – the person in West African tradition responsible for maintaining an oral record of civic history through music, poetry and storytelling – and how Caribbean folklore and culture has been used to pass on the stories of the Windrush Generation and their children today.

The other poets are Malika Booker, who is currently researching the impact of Win- drush women on fashion and the textiles industry in Yorkshire, and Vahni Capildeo, whose current work at the University of Leeds looks at the concept of migration, the multiple senses of “home”, and how everyone’s life is a tapestry of small and large journeys.

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