LOUDSPEAKER Season 1: Ep 1 Mental Health

Check out the first ever LOUDSPEAKER episode, October 2020. Recorded following six months of pandemic Britain and lockdowns, we chose mental health as the topic.

In this first episode we were joined in the studio by amazing Leeds based Bangladeshi spoken word artist, Saju Iqbal. He shared two pieces of poetry and spoke to us about his life and art.

Tracks played and performed on the show included:

  1. 01:17 JJ Bantz: Check on yourself
  2. 17:18 D3: [Live performance] Neurological Disease
  3. 20:55 Gina: Yellow is for black girls
  4. 23:04 Sarah Autumn: [Poetry Reading] Mary Oliver: When I am among the trees
  5. 27:06 In10sive: Inner Peace
  6. 39:44 Saju Iqbal: [Live performance] Human Yet
  7. 50:02 Saju Iqbal: [Live performance] I do this for the culture
  8. 57:04 Mark Thompson: Better

Listen to the show here.

Show Transcript

Sarah Autumn 00:00
Ey up, what’s up you’re listening to LOUDSPEAKER Spoken Word radio show where we are proud to speak it out loud. My name is Sarah Autumn, Media trainer and Speaker, Anti racist and Climate Activist and Co-host of this Spoken Word show. Very, very proud to welcome my amazing talented mate and co-host of the show Denetta, otherwise known as D3.

D3 00:23
Hello, yes, they called me D3. I’m a Spoken Word artist from Leeds. And I’m also the director of D3 creations. I could go on for ages about the things that I get up to. But that’s not why you’re here today. So you can find out more about me though, at www.d3creations.uk. Today, though, I am one of your hosts on this brand new amazing Spoken Word radio show LOUDSPEAKER. It’s going to blow you away.

We’ll be sharing some amazing poets with you, having live performances and conducting interviews before forcing guests to take part in our quickfire questions at the end of the show.

Each week. We’ll also have a theme of the week to help us explore some of the issues of our time through spoken word. And this week, the theme is mental health.

Sarah Autumn 01:09
And before we dive straight into our first track, let’s say a very, very warm welcome to our guest tonight. Mr. Saju Iqbal.

D3 01:17
Hi, thank you. So for our first live performance section and artists interview, we are very honoured and excited to be joined by the Leeds based Bangladesh a Spoken Word artists Saju Iqbal.

First things first, a nice track. It’s is called ‘Check on yourself’. It’s from a friend of mine, and he’s going to give himself a little bio. So I’ll play that now.

JJ Bantz 01:38
You are now listening to the thoughts that exist in the minds of some some around us.

In many ways, I’m one of the lucky ones. I was able to recognise what was happening to me, own it and act on it. But unfortunately, not everybody is quite so lucky. I was always confident that at least I could always appear to be confident. I was one of those guys that could walk into a room terrified about what was in there but feign confidence to mask what was going on inside and to everybody that was looking on. They think I had a confidence of 10 men.

But all of that changed around seven years ago when my dad passed away. Prostate cancer took hold of him and left him a shell of his former self and to witness him take his last breath knowing that he was there to hear my first breath is something that will always haunt me.

And when he died as cliche as it sounds part of me died with him. I slowly but surely felt my confidence and my ability to feign it slipping away when I needed it the most. This didn’t happen straightaway. It was a very slow process that intensified as the years went on. I became withdrawn unable to communicate the thoughts in my head to my friends and family and that’s such a bold things. And as men, that’s what we do right? We don the apparel of masculinity because we see our own thoughts as our weakness so we stood about engulfed in a smokescreen of smiles to mask our self hate and inner turmoil. That’s how I felt anyway.

Now I carried on like this for years slowly becoming a more withdrawn version of myself and worrying those who knew me best I stopped going to the gym I became less committed at work wasn’t that passionate about my own personal appearance? Eating became something that I have to do rather than it being an enjoyable experience. Some days I’d get by on just toast I would cry as well for absolutely no imaginable reason I would just cry I want to say cry you know those ugly snot a can’t quite catch your breath tears. Those those those sorts of cries I’m talking about. Drinking a can of pop one moment and then launching it across the room while screaming like some kind of madman for absolutely no reason. And it was around then I thought you know, maybe I’ve got a bit of a problem.

But one of my many smoke screen enablers exists via the world of social media. So those that know me through social media would totally say I’m quite funny, articulate musically talented, and a bit of an attention seeker but in a positive way. However, the majority of the videos that I shoot are the songs that I make for social media, which I do to make people we’re also laugh because for me, seeing people laugh and enjoy what I was doing made me feel better. And this is one of the reasons now I can understand why some of our celebrity entertainers do suffer a lot from depression and or anxiety, especially comedian.

I’m also a master of ceremonies for sports events around the country. And those who see me at these events can attest as to how energised I am and how much I can get the crowd poppin’ you know regardless of how I feel, I’m able to switch into character and entity and these people get those Pat’s on the back, the handshakes, the adulation and the rest.

But you’d never know that secretly. I was dreading the moment that that show ended, because going back to normality absolutely sucked. I produced a song called ‘Man’s not cold’, which was a parody of the popular song ‘Man’s not hot’, which as expected, made you know everybody that heard it laugh and smile from ear to ear. But it was one of my longtime and very inspirational friends who told me that although the song was funny maybe I should try using my talents for something a little bit more meaningful. She said this at a time where I was wearing every mask that I could find in order to just deflect how I was feeling. But it was those words that really inspired me. And it suddenly dawned on me that you know what, I really am not well, and that it does stem from my dad. And I was deteriorating while playing the clown. And also, if I didn’t do something soon, something could go drastically wrong. So I put pen to paper and began writing a song called ‘Check on yourself’, which is available to listen to on YouTube. While I was writing it, I was able to freely say what was on my mind, I was able to communicate my thoughts through pen and paper, and make people hear my pain without having to talk to them directly about it.

And suddenly, it felt like I’d removed a massive weight and a massive boulder from my shoulders. And since then, I’ve been contacted by strangers who will seeking guidance from me. The bad days occur much less often. And I talk more openly to my friends and my family now about what my issues are. And I feel more balanced than happy as a person. Not everybody though, has that gift that they can just tap into. However, I did tap into mine, which then enabled me to write this article and speak to you guys that are listening, and also speak to people face to face, and even offer advice that might make things a little better for them.

And my advice to anybody listening right now is to speak to somebody, get it off your chest, there’s absolutely no shame in it at all. People see speaking as a weakness that is not speaking to speaking by and showing your emotions is a massive strength. And you will feel much better when you do.

So please do listen to my song, as I say is available on YouTube. Check on yourself by JJ Bantz on Youtube It’s called ‘Check on yourself’. And it’s by me JJ bantz, the song itself details my experiences. It’d be great as well, if he could share it.

It’s already helped a lot of people open up about their own feelings. And now playing exclusively on loudspeaker This is JJ Bantz with ‘Check on yourself’. Thank you everybody for listening.

JJ Bantz 07:04
You are now listening to the thoughts that exist in the minds of some around us. You are now listening to the thoughts that exist in the minds of some around us.

Check on your people, check on your friends, check on your neighbours, check on your ends. check on your biceps, check on your gyms, check on your business, check all your spends, check on your Beamer, check on your Benz, check on your jewellery, check on your gems, check on your wealth before your mental health, check on yourself.

Now it’s been approximately six years since my dad died and I’m struggling. And it’s been approximately six years since my depression has been bubbling.

And I was suffering with anxiety, not entirely sure where the world’s trying me. But I’m feeling like even a slightly sick of it for just maybe slip up slip.

Now it sounds easy in theory to say JJ talk to your family. But in reality, my biggest fear of talking to my family is that they might judge me because I’m supposed to be the strong one. Especially now that my dad’s gone. So is that okay Masasa myself even though when I was bad for my health. So here we go again another day put in a smoke screen, open it and blow away pay in on a fake smile brain don’t fade away hoping and praying to God God against him today. Mental health is a holy grail for many people that ship or set sail. Another one of what I’m going to fail unless I can find a way to prevail. So I keep my chin down. Hands up as I walk through life with a swagger and mustard you can tell by looking at me that I must stop unless you get me drunk and then further afield like a kingdom well I’m just gonna switch into character on board. So while you can come in and pitch in on people with anxiety, you’re free to leave the place they live in. Check on your people check on your friends. Check on your Labor’s check on your ends. Check on your biceps, check on your gyms. Check on your business, check all your spends, check on your Beamer, check on your pens, check on your jewellery check on your gems, check on your wealth before your mental health check on yourself. Now it’s been approximately six years since I first found myself stumbling and it’s been approximately six years since suffers from a wealth tumbling. I already know the root cause I wish I could put everything on pause take a step back play all back snap my fingers in a race when he started prostate cancer that’s the culprit that same things got my whole mentality split my dad’s death for me thinking of some sort of sat here imagine in life who by recently and the way exactly how it feels to be desperate for there’s nothing you can do to protect them. And the one Grace selling gets I have faith and stay on this place is your child’s face. That’s why some people self harm justly ever scars on both of my arms. The pain followed by adrenaline kept me calm. You can keep on the COVID some lucky charms and I’m sitting here hopeless staring at my palms. I couldn’t try suicide that raise the alarm. You are now listening to the thoughts that exist in the minds of some around us and that my mom suffers with Alzheimer’s. That Say it’s common in these old timers. I just hope we should pray that the day doesn’t come wish he didn’t remember what my name is. And these people think they know what pain is. I mean term, Seamus is getting where I’m almost faceless walking out, aimless drinking till I’m praying. So what you mentioned, whenever you feel like this, please speak up, they can tell by looking at you. So put aside my friend. Don’t let it get on top of you and build the stress up, start from the bottom and then build yourself up. And if you feel like you’re not listening to somebody who’s qualified to listen and check on your people, check on your friends, check on your neighbours, check on your hands, check on your biceps, check on your gyms, check on your business, check on your Spence check on your Beamer. Check on your friends, check on your juvie check on your Chairman’s check on your wealth before your mental health. Check on yourself.

Sarah Autumn 10:50
Let’s have it for JJ bantz ‘Check on yourself’.

D3 10:52
Aamazing piece to be shared with us. And I’m sure we can all relate to so many aspects of that song. So I’m just so blessed to have heard it. And the fact that you know he’s, he’s taken the time to share it with us. So thank you for that, which actually gets us on to our theme of the week. So I’ll hand over to you, Sarah. So you can talk to us about that a little bit.

Sarah Autumn 11:12
So every single week, we’re going to have a theme of the week just to help us to tie in some different issues speak about things going on in the world. And for this week, we decided to focus on the topic of mental health, given the pandemic, it’s safe to say there’s been people feeling it struggles with mental health. So we wanted to raise that issue today on this show. (Please note since first recording this show we decided on a monthly format).

Saju Iqbal 11:32
I think what has helped is giving people definitions of what different mental health are so that there’s a difference between depression and anxiety, for example, but you know, like I am from Bangladeshi background. So for my parents, to them didn’t understand depression, they didn’t think you have a reason to be depressed or why you’re upset. So you’ve always had to be strong. So as a young man, I didn’t really know what emotions were how do I define being happy? How do I define being sad, defined, being upset and angry? There are completely different feelings and emotions that affect people differently. So my journey was learning about all these different mental health problems and then identifying Oh, that’s how I feel, and realising, oh, I’m not angry. I’m anxious. Yeah, about my surroundings. And I think that’s where it’s getting better.

Sarah Autumn 12:30 better mental health as a society

Saju Iqbal 12:32 better understanding.

D3 12:33
Definitely. And that’s what I was gonna say. So do you think is the understanding thing, because we do come from generations who were brought up differently, and, you know, Iron Fist all that kind of thing, and you know, just get on with it, man up all kinds of phrases like that.

Sarah Autumn 12:49
Sometimes it’s circumstantial, you know, like the world right now. Yeah. And sometimes it’s chemical. And it’s inside you.

D3 12:56
I think over time, we’ve been able to, you know, society has generally had more understanding, and more acceptance. I think they’re the two key words and understanding and acceptance. Yeah. Because there was a lot of people that think, Oh, you’re not feeling like that you don’t feel I can’t see it. So it can’t be happening. You look fine. To me. You got the news trainers on. So why, how could you have a mental health issue, and it doesn’t work out that sort of thing, that that’s how we’ve kind of moved on a little bit. And then with pandemic, it kind of knocked on everybody’s door, didn’t it? So everybody had to kind of address the elephant in the room. There’s stuff going on here and the people are struggling, and we need to accept that. Yeah. And

Saju Iqbal 13:34
I think things being taken away from was that help us cope? That’s why I’m realising we don’t really have that many coping mechanisms and just social network.

Sarah Autumn 13:43
Yeah. Which must impact out how our mental health in a positive way.

Saju Iqbal 13:48
And how much different so human touch? Yeah, actually, me,

D3 13:52
Definitely, I was craving a hug there for a minute.

Sarah Autumn 13:56
Oh, my God, I’m such a tactile person as well.

Saju Iqbal 14:01
I feel that so much being controlled. Like it felt like we were controlled so much where I didn’t have a freedom. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I have to sit alone with my thoughts all day. And I think what a lot of people don’t realise that you’re not gonna always have good thoughts. You’re not always going to have bad thoughts. You know, sometimes you might not have any thoughts at all, you know, and it’s coming to that understanding and how we deal with all these thoughts in our heads and without going to play pool or snooker or to the cinemas and having to communicate.

Sarah Autumn 14:37
Especially those people you know, a lot of people spend most of their weekends in in the clubs are in the bars because it’s an escapism from the 90 year. Life other depression. Some ways it helps you get back onto your following week.

D3 14:50
If you’ve had a bit of hair downtime over the weekend.

Saju Iqbal 14:53
Get ready for another week of…

D3 14:56
I would just like to share some key facts. It’s been ripped Started by the NHS, that at the end of March 2020, there were 1,380,240 people in contact with their services. The majority of these were in contact with adult mental health services. There were 237,088 people in contact with children and young people’s mental health services. And 134 4995 in contact with learning disabilities and autism services, there was 297,516 New referrals received into the services during March. And 1,808,355 care contacts were attended them numbers are massive, huge,

Sarah Autumn 15:51
I’ve got some contacts as well that I want to link up two people. One of them is commlinks.co.uk. So that’s c o m, m l i n, k s.co.uk. We’ll link all these things up on social media. Another link for Leeds is Leedscommunityhealthcare.nhs.uk Leeds community health care is kind of the place that you’re gonna go to get a long list of services, depending on what it is that you’re experiencing a feeling. But if you are a young person, or you are worried about young person, there’s also youngminds.org.uk.

D3 16:26
Thank you for sharing that, Sarah. Yep, there will be all them links posted on our social media. So look up loudspeaker on Facebook and Instagram and certain places like that, you know, the drill, you know how it works. What we’ve never told anybody about earlier is that I was going to do a piece.

Yeah, this track is called neurological disease. Because I’ve battled with a brain disease for the past 20 years. I’ve had multiple sclerosis for most of my life, and it affects me physically. And that’s easy to diagnose, but it also affects me mentally and emotionally, which isn’t so easy to see. And we actually are affecting your personality, your behaviour, your mood, and everything. And so that’s why I wrote this track. So I’m gonna do I’m gonna do my PSP. Now it’s called neurological disease, and it’s acapella, so I’m hoping to keep a beat in my head.

Like her new awakening, Dawn breaking in feels on my skin in her lungs until they try to escape from within eyes explore everything mind will stall anything I’ve been here before it’s how it always begins. Don’t think I’m in control just because I know the script I refuse to let go I was born to do this. My thoughts are like string I can’t get a grip try recall the story before the total eclipse creeping by my mind for signs of infiltrators take time to rifle through this round of trade and praise God to grant me another day that rummaging for what I need to hold the fresh system dysfunction then and exhale a breath diagnose how much control a missed in Job effects I know where mess won’t let me go until I’m laid to rest but I just keep on bouncing back to when you least expect sensation is distorted but I’m moving on. Everybody has reported that I’m standing strong. I tried to explain the run the stand and wrong and then the strengths I have shown before was almost gone. Conclusion I’m my own worst enemy confusion said and then with no apologies. You see my policies said there’s no guarantee because I don’t own this body. I’m just a licensee. So here we go again, messing with my brain on the brink of saying it’s the new edition demolition of veins. There’s no competition life is lost in chains. I tried to gain admission but it’s hard to attain. So I’m floating on the edge of consciousness and jumping off the latest death consequence and walking in the abyss keep searching for my bliss. Don’t tell the secret because I speak this in confidence. Ticking bombs a row was telling me the time reminded me that I’ll forever be in twined confined to exist within this paradigm designed to self destruct here’s what I’ve been assigned a numbness in my fingers premised on my spine. I see you in my resection. So you leave me blind sometimes I can’t even find the strength to climb. You’re done in all my senses. When I’m destined to shine, This little light of mine that’s when I tilt my head to the sky. Please give me aside I’m searching for some kind of intervention device for this wall but I’m not one to stay in line in this community of lesions I am undermined leading me through all the seasons I follow behind keep depleting me your freedom like I’ve done a crime. I hear you breathing from the corners of my mind. Day three. Thank you very much. What I started to do is live online writing workshops. So knowing or anticipating that everybody’s going through a difficult time mentally Nope. Now anxious, confused, scared. So I created a programme it’s called ‘Express Yourself for Mental Health‘. And it’s designed to help organise your thoughts and feelings that you have about current affairs. Because writing is therapeutic and I’ve used it as therapy for years. I’m trying to teach other people how to do that.

Sarah Autumn 20:03
And I’ve actually been on your writing workshop actually has I attended your writing workshop. And it really did force me actually to write and put words to some of the things I was feeling at that moment in time and just to make the space and time for it.

D3 20:19
Well, I think you’ve thrown yourself under the bus there, aren’t you, Sarah? Because you’ve just told everybody that you’ve got pieces of poetry and a piece on on air. So maybe next week, next week?

Saju Iqbal 20:30
Yeah, definitely. Share it with the world.

D3 20:33
Yeah, so it doesn’t matter of your age or writing ability. Please come along. If you want to join in on the live workshops on a Monday night, go to my website, www dot d3 creations.uk and book now I’m also available for private bookings. (Please note since recording, Sarah and D3 have launched the social enterprise Between The Lines and D3 now delivers this workshop and others as under BTL. Check them out on btlleeds.com/worshops)

Sarah Autumn 20:50
Fantastic. It’s a next up a woman by the name of Gina. Gina is a lead based spoken word artists have Angolan and half Cape Verdean. She’s also part of a youth activist organisation, as I said, save our generation. And she performed recently at the love poetry here racism event. You can find Gina on Instagram at @Morikoyosei_ and we look forward to having her on the show as an interviewee very, very soon. Today she’s going to read an original piece called Yellow is for black girls.

Gina 21:23
Yellow is for black girls. The way it complements her oil skin on that girls. This highlights her features. Her Afro in the high puff tide with the yellow scarf. Her mustard coloured jumpsuit accentuating her curves. That beauty her African mother gave her peanut shaped eyes her father blessed her with the supple lips with a strong dip in the middle comes from great grandmother. Her hair texture from grandma. Her curls forming different patterns. Yellow is for black girls. The way her mahogany skin shines against the sunlight. Rays dancing on her cheeks twinkles in her eyes. She is beautiful. Naturally, she picks up a yellow tulip and holds it to her nose. She runs to lay in a grassy meadow and from bird’s eye view. She looks like a sunflower. Her hair fanning her face. That’s perfect. Well, Gina,

Sarah Autumn 22:38
Give it up for Gina. Yellow is for black girls, and you can find over poetry and more about Gina on her Instagram. As we said we’ll link it up.

Sarah Autumn 22:46
Our next feature is that introduce a poet feature. So each week we’re going to be researching people or just talking about people that we actually already know about that we just wanted to, you know, share with you. And this week, we are going to introduce poet Mary Oliver, so I’ll take it away Sarah.

Sarah Autumn 23:04
So Mary Oliver was an award winning American poet passed away last year at the age of 83. She was a prolific poet with more than 20 volumes under her belt when she passed away. So to read and enjoy one of Mary Oliver’s poems, is the kind of dive into a whole lot of goodness and find yourself down a rabbit hole. One of the reasons that I love Mary Oliver so much is that she often talks about nature. So where many, many poets and spoken words have an amazing way of talking about the human condition. She has a really fantastic way of talking about the Earth and the environment. And so that’s how I came to Mary Oliver and why I’ve chosen for today, when we’re talking about mental health. I’m sure I won’t be the only one here who feels that being outdoors being in nature, going for a walk has a really positive impact on mental health mental well being. And in full lockdown, it’s about one of the only things we can do.

D3 24:02
Oh yeah. It was amazing. How many people was walking dogs outside my house? YI didn’t know they had a dog.

Sarah Autumn 24:08
I know. Those wonderful, quiet woodlands that I normally go to are a little bit busier now but I’m glad so that’s what brings us on to Mary Oliver the talk of nature and how we can utilise that to get rid of the stress of modern life, especially city life.

D3 24:26
It’s getting back to nature, isn’t it?

Sarah Autumn 24:28
I’m going to read one of her poems today called when I am among the trees and I will stand for this one. So give me one serious everybody she’s standing when I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honeylocust. Equally the beach, the oaks and the pines. They give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me daily. I’m so distant from the whole put myself in which I have goodness and discernment. And never hurry through the world but walk slowly and bow often around me the trees in their leaves they stir and call out stay a while the light flows from their branches. And they call again, it’s simple, they say, and you too have come here to do this to go easy to be filled with light and to shine.

D3 25:36
Well, I love that piece. Is very beautiful. So well done Sarah for recites in it. And thank you very much, Mary Oliver.

Sarah Autumn 25:46 Thank you, Mary Oliver. Mary.

D3 25:49
So she has amazing range of poetry. Yeah, that we definitely recommend you dive into sort of find out more about Mary Oliver, you can go to And I would also recommend starting with her book devotions, It’s about 200 poems curated by Mary herself in 2015 definitely do that. They do that definitely do that. Now next, we have intensive

Sarah Autumn 26:19
In10nsive is a Sheffield based rapper, he began writing short stories about his childhood early on, which soon developed into songwriting. He’s brutally honest and self depreciating words keep his audience a front row seat into his life thoughts and Outlook you can find him on facebook.com/in10nsive with two V’s and you’re about to hear inner peace (Please note In10sive’s Facebook link has changed since broadcasting)

In10sive 27:06
I don’t believe in God but I pray sometimes this all my face was brand new and ever since smile because fee because mine with a no Britain now turn a wave goodbye and we need to live on a today issue there’s been times when I’ve prayed for mine made some mistakes I can’t pay for mine they got me on a bike trying to stabilise come rain or shine I’m gonna need you to speak to things that I’ve been through all that is paying combat are really good to see you it’s easy to

see who stays inside when you’re waiting around doc told me to take my time I won’t let patients take my time. I’ve spent too many late nights just thinking about those days gone by in a piece what I need I’ve been windswept quarterbacks on my guys because I’ve been burst when you speak Philip piquing my interest looking back for the texts which have been sent but the blurb of the past gets clearer as the dawn of the day gets nearer time don’t stop and laugh goes on in the house we buy only makes things weird I wrote you a script but the mood and clear my intention was not to be too sincere and say is Hi I’m tuned in fear trying to rewrite words that was the smear ad from dreams which I used to pursue learn how to lie as a pupil a truth to come rescue didn’t pull the trigger too quick and the bullet hit home and this wound is the proof clean cook saw with a piece that stout and aware my heart but the sleeve stretched out got to involve and I should have kept out two and a bit Amanda McCain sketch will still keep headstrong trying to work on the flaws that I slept on. Hoping to see where it went wrong praying that I thought was the chance for get one in a piece what I need of Him windswept are the bags on my guys because I’ve been impressed when you speak Philip piquing my interest looking back through the text which had been sent but the blur with the past gets clearer as the dawn of day gets near 10 Don’t stop unless goes on in our heads we buy only makes things weird.

D3 28:46
Wow intensive and what a beautiful says that was bobbing his head in the thing right? Yeah, you got sad. You still have a brewer I’m really excited because because Scheffer intensive
Sarah Autumn 29:00 facebook.com/in10nsive

D3 29:04
That was amazing. I really like that I’m really enjoying this show. I just think it’s totally what we need in life.

D3 29:09
So next up, we’ve got an interview with Saju Iqbal. Hi Saju. All right. I’m not so bad. It’s nice to see you.

Saju Iqbal 29:20 Nice to see you too.

D3 29:22
First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with spoken word?

Saju Iqbal 29:26
I was introduced to spoken with by my mentor in high school, Allen Grinch, Mr. Norman Francis, aka too tall to pick up too tall for him. I’ll be here right now. But he brought the call Khadija Ibrahim, who became my mentor. And she did some portrait workshops with us told us about Leeds Young Authors where d3 was also a mentor. And it showed the footage from 2005 of the team going to San Francisco to come So the team from Leeds went to compete in America and approach Islam. I’ve watched this and I recognise Louis, unless you went silent and grinned as well. Yeah. And to see him on the stage out there in America. It just inspired me so much and to see the whole Leeds people and they were the only team that was not from America. And they saw d3. Oh, what really?

Sarah Autumn 30:23
Yeah, we need represented with all of the UK and international.

Saju Iqbal 30:29
That was outside of America. And it was the first team and that’s why that competition Brave New Voices became international. Yes.

D3 30:37
Because of us. Not London, not London, leasing office from host Media Centre, but multiple time road.

Saju Iqbal 30:44
So I watched that, and I was buzzing, I was like, if they can go, then I can go. So it was did you go, I went in 2006. So I got a bit confused because I thought the school will get to go. So once we entered this poetry competition, it was in Italy, so all the schools from need to compete in so it was six to a team. And you did group pieces and individual pieces. And it was five rounds, wow. And top three, etc. So top six would go through and then it’d be the final round where the top three will be announced. We came far off. But seeing young people doing the spoken word, encouraged me to pursue it more. So then I thought I can’t go to America. It’s going to be one of these three teams. And then I remember Michelle Skelly Clark, pilot, Morris and Khadija pulled me aside out of the group and said come down on Tuesday, host me this for Legion office. So I’ve gotten down. And I still remember waiting outside for an hour. I didn’t want to go in that I popped my head. And I popped it back out and d3 came running back in. You’re not going anywhere. He’s sitting down and you’re writing

D3 32:06
You gave you came to the door, walk through it

Saju Iqbal 32:10
there and then as I did, because it was so intimidating. Because you saw people because that time I think YouTube was just about coming out. So you saw the local MCs that you heard on the mp3 from Ella seven battlers from roofless saw dialect was definitely shut the time. So I reached paddy so I should dawn. So you saw quite a big few big names baby T. Yeah. So it was quite intimidated to step into a room with all these lyricists at that time. You know, I got a bit scared that we even lie. But we’ll be back in and I sat next to Claire Austin.

D3 32:49
I was gonna say cloud Ruby as she’s like,

Saju Iqbal 32:53
I still remember. It was Hakeem that was teaching a workshop. Yeah. And you had to use Latin roots, in your words in your poem. So that just blew my mind. How am I going to use Latin roots in the poem? Latin root? Office 2005.

D3 33:12
It wasn’t a joke. It was very serious, serious thing.

Saju Iqbal 33:15
So I wrote mine and put away and then Claire, but it’d be like, No, he has to read his new he has a different introduced himself. Yeah, this that. So you have to be confident straightaway. I was so scared. And they all loved Nepal. And that encouraged me to come back as a writer because I originally started as a rapper with a finger. Yeah, MC silver finger. We were in geography year. 10. Yeah, GCSE is right, in a way in his book, was he writing and then he’s read it to me and then I start writing with him and then met Khadija went into Legion golfers and then 2006 February was the slump, the individual slump. So this is where now you can meet the team to go America. Yeah, there was 30 poets. Top three go through and Mike and the other three get picked on merit. Oh, I got through to the final body met top three brought me out but it was a very emotional night because padded the pole on my brother’s a soldier. Yeah. And that that night is showing me how emotional poach can get passed away. And she started crying in the poem, and it added so much to it that I thought no, this is the real, real deal. And I started focusing on poetry from then made the team in 2006. And then when went to America, that blew my mind even more, because you’re sat with people from Queens, New York, from Bronx, New York, from Los Angeles, kompetenz, who are Bloods and Crips and the SAT there writing poetry with you and then you’re listening to their lives and what they’ve been through and it makes you realise how important And

Sarah Autumn 35:00
I mean just to have that exposure at such an early stage in your life and in your career as we spoke about artists,

Saju Iqbal 35:06
six months of my me writing poetry, I was on a flight to New York City. Yeah. And I’ve never left the country leaving

Sarah Autumn 35:14 on a jet plane.

Saju Iqbal 35:15
So for me, I didn’t sleep the night before. Because I couldn’t I was so excited. And then I fall asleep on the plane. I didn’t know I didn’t sleep the first two nights I was there, initially, just to Bozhena excited. I remember, there was a freestyle Cypher. I still remember Skrill, which has lyrics about Blackwoods if you want to check him out. Skrill Skrill. Lyric writer. Yeah, there, it’s about backwards. There was about six of them. Rapping outside, were in Amsterdam Avenue, between two project buildings. So it’s New York as it gets off the telly real long, and these loads are wrapping away, wrapping away. freestyling back and forth back and I went to bed at midnight. I come back downstairs at six in the morning, the next day, they still they’re wrapping away. Same clothes, haven’t anything. And that’s how I knew the day life depended on it. And that pushed me to write even more where the net told me Are you American because I used to rap in American accent. And she made me focus on who I who I am more on my Yorkshire I love

Sarah Autumn 36:31
to hear the the Yorkshire accent in the in the poetry. Yeah. I’m glad they did. I’m glad they pushed you on that. That young age.

Saju Iqbal 36:40
It’s about being honest and real to yourself. And yeah, yeah. So that’s how I got into I got thrown into the deep end. Really? I think you jumped I did jump. I took the leap.

D3 36:51
And yeah, and you swam. So it worked out? Well. Can you tell us because I mean, you’re going to do a couple of pieces for us live in the studio. So can you tell us a little bit about your first piece, and the inspiration behind it?

Saju Iqbal 37:06
First piece is called human yet? It’s based on Winston Churchill quote. If you just smile like, yeah.

Sarah Autumn 37:19
It’s just like a cheeky smile, for those who can’t see.

Saju Iqbal 37:24
So I’m familiar as the net will always tell you, I’ve always haven’t been afraid to talk about injustice in the world. And what we don’t talk about, I will talk about it because it’s affected me, it affected my family history. Like my granddad was born in British India. But my dad was born in East Pakistan. But if I was there, I would have been born in Bangladesh. And that’s the same place. Yeah, that changed so many times. And so many things have been lost and, and then also feel, you know, I do talk about my background. But I also know that white people were affected in England by that the poor white people, the miners and low income families that are overlooked as well. So when I talk about myself, I also in talking about them, because I truly believed as the economy crashed, like so it’s all based on money for capitalism. Yeah, before anything. Like Sure, rich, you’re rich. If you’re poor, you’re poor, like, it doesn’t matter. And if you’re struggling like me, then this applies to you. And history has affected your family as much as this affected mine. And that’s what it’s based on. It’s also inspired by when we did the theatre show footprints.

D3 38:46
Okay, tell us a bit about that

Saju Iqbal 38:48
footprints was a Leeds Young Authors production. We were looking at how our families migrated to Britain, from the poets of Legion offers, and we looked at historic content as well. And we all took a bit of history and decided to write a piece and did a whole dance and theatre based upon we worked with George and Camille from Trinidad and Tobago, and David Hamilton. So we got to work with some great artists and put to learn how to put together theatre. And one of the standards is from there, as well. So I’ve taken that, and I’ve moulded it into this poem, and this whole poem came out of my one freestyle line of Ironman, like Ironman. Ironman,

D3 39:38
great. Are you ready to share it with us? Please feel free to stand up and take it away.

Saju Iqbal 39:44
Beastly people with a beastly religion who are breeding like rabbits, Churchill, do you see me as human yet?

The fading Empire put dreams in our heads. Some took boats, others flew over to the golden land. The truth was, it was a bogus plant they got folded man, integration wasn’t easy like holding hands, intercepted by bald heads, sharp tools and blunt statements cut our culture like circumcision. Now there is still some reason why certain races should be treated like fur off season. Sorry, no coloured people allowed at this table only on the front lines and in the minds with the minors and those poorer white people. Do you see me as human yet? Cos I am man. Like Iron Man, I keep an eye on man cuz in the past you’ve pulled an iron on man made from melanin. Originators of medicine, you made many think that the skin carries many sin. You have many men attending prayers and singing hymns pretending things didn’t happen like slashing skin to cashing in to flashy things. History is awful, like fake bling that rashes skin. Do you see me as human yet? Your liability regarding your liabilities for liberty of humankind was for finance and not for peace. If you was born before 94 you was alive during the South African apartheid, old enough to see Stephen Lawrence alive, old enough to remember Saddam and damn sad to see who is saying you helped put puppets in power and made them the enemy of the states, old enough to remember the weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. old enough to remember Kosovo and Bosnia cos we didn’t give a, did you see me as human yet? Because you keep calling me a Terrorist,Illegal immigrant, Gangster, Thug, Raghead M bomb Paki? Pikey, Bomber Taliban, King Kong, Ching chong, Muzzie Appu, everything filthy under the sun. Do you see me as human yet? Because until then, I don’t see you as equal.

D3 42:26
This is what I’m talking about. That’s what was such who gave it up. This is why it took him six months of walking into Legion garters to beat on a plane to America.

Sarah Autumn 42:36
really hard to stay completely silent then because I was like, oh, oh. Hold it.

Saju Iqbal 42:44
That’s my favourite bit. Just the reaction

Sarah Autumn 42:45
that feeling? Sad. Yes. Thank you so much for sharing that piece with us. What’s up? He’s

Saju Iqbal 42:53 called human yet,

D3 42:55
human yet. So have you told us what your links are? Let’s do. Let’s do a few of your link before you do your next piece.

Saju Iqbal 43:02
My first book is Saju. Well, Ahmed does sh JUIQ B et al. H M Ed. And I think my instance Saju underscore LDS I think but just type my full name.

D3 43:17
If you want to know. You can get found on YouTube.

Sarah Autumn 43:21
I’ve searched him, he’s findable.

Saju Iqbal 43:23
Yeah, pictures will come up. Yeah.

D3 43:26
Yeah. And I mean, when you’re listening to the show, you’re probably best off having a pen and paper somewhere about yourself. You know, you can write down these things that you want to look up yourself. But equally, you could go to our social media pages and check them out where they will all be posted there.

Sarah Autumn 43:38
We’ve heard about your spoken word start and weight and where you got going. So tell us a little bit about what you are up to now are planning for the future.

Saju Iqbal 43:47
Well, I am working on a collection. The book is called The thought of a Bengali spy because I’m doing Gaulish and Bengali, Irish

D3 44:01 Bengali.

Saju Iqbal 44:05
Since you know you can’t be in this if you know. So the guest is from the British. But it is a collection that I’ve been working on for my polar shift. journey since the start because Khadija always said you need to have your book, a body of work. And still slacking. But with me I’m very picky and choosey about poems and outright loads but then if I don’t like it, if I don’t feel it, disregard it, which you shouldn’t do. That’s one of my OCD is I guess. But every poem is not a finished poem. So you can always change it. I do regret it but I did lose a lot of USB pens where I’ve had over hundreds of poems on where I had to start again.

Sarah Autumn 44:57
Oh gosh, I wonder how many times Ready?

Saju Iqbal 45:01
Is that first strike down, honestly just write it down. Don’t rely on electronics because they can die. People will always be there unless you get wet or something. And then also because I’m a rapper, I love music. I love doing it to live bands. So I want with my book I want to CD of my 10 favourite poems to a live band. And then also,

Sarah Autumn 45:27
do you know who you’re going to work with on that? Or is it still open?

Saju Iqbal 45:31
There’s, I’m very lucky and blessed to have so many people that evolved in the music industry. Like rapping wise, I never want my face on it. I’m just one of them. I’d love it to be animation based. Yeah. Because I like to integrate all the arts and stuff.

Sarah Autumn 45:56 Mixed Media.

Saju Iqbal 45:57
Yeah, I’m not I’m not really bothered about being famous or, like, I’d rather just be able to be left alone to get along my normal life and just do it as I normally do. Just enjoy it. Be myself do how you do.

Sarah Autumn 46:09
You’ve been doing it for some time you’ve set yourself since he was 16 years old, just a young lad. And we want to talk to over young inspiring artists are out there listening in as well. What advice would you give them?

Saju Iqbal 46:22
Never shy away from opportunity. You’re always gonna be nervous. When you hit in the stage. I always get nervous still to this day. But that just means you care. Be honest. Don’t talk about shooting somebody. Unless you’ve done it.

Sarah Autumn 46:42
Yeah. Talk about what so like anything goes if it’s real, yeah,

Saju Iqbal 46:46
everything goes if it’s real, like when I first started slam poetry, you don’t you don’t realise how deep it goes, some people have been raised. And then you hear about poems about their experience and what they did to make themselves feel better. You hear some stories about seeing someone being murdered, then you hear stories about love. So there’s share your story, honestly, because there’s someone out there that needs that one line that will change their mind from hurting themselves. Anything you write, just put it out, because it can save a life honestly, like don’t be scared, your voice needs to be heard to like

D3 47:30
we had JJ bantz talking about that earlier as well how when he pulled his truck out, and you know, he’s a big strapping black guy. And to so many people in look like he’s got it all together. But he’s just telling me his truth. Today doesn’t matter your outside appearance. And you know, and to be able to have people relate to you, you’ve got to share your story.

Saju Iqbal 47:51
Yeah, and the most important thing is it doesn’t need to ramp. It really doesn’t need to rhyme. Poetry is the expression and expression is more than rhyme. The what I tell kids when I go to the schools, is they’ll ask who writes No, everyone’s saying no, I go, Okay, who sent an emotional text message to their best friend, bitching about somebody yesterday, and they’ll put the hand up, I will read that text message out to me, please. And then a black tech a bit in between that. I suppose you’re expressing yourself and how you’re doing even as minimum six words, write a story in six words. You smiled. It made my day. You know, Santa supple

D3 48:37
news was doing my writing workshop, express yourself a mental health check out on D3 creations.

Sarah Autumn 48:37 Highly recommended. Sarah,

D3 48:38
you said to me at 1.0. I don’t really think this is a poem. Because I think we broke it down. And we didn’t we did a writing workshop exercise. And then I said, you know, no, read your honour. I haven’t done my like that I don’t like, well, because I rise low is have you got four lines? Is it what you want to say? Then it’s dude, if you’ve expressed something,

Saju Iqbal 49:06
everyone sounded the same. It’d be boring.

Sarah Autumn 49:10
Because I’ve read a lot of poems. I’ve never thought of it as a spoken. I’ve never thought of speaking the poems but I just do little things. And then I’m like, oh, it’s like half a poem, or it’s a little bit of a poem. Oh, that’s a line for later. So it’s hard. I know. Exactly. Well, I owe haikus. I mean, they’re intentionally teeny, right.

Saju Iqbal 49:27
From Saul Williams is the oral tradition is older than the written. So people spoke poetry before the written down.

D3 49:37
I introduced it to Saul Williams the other day did not

Saju Iqbal 49:39
miss it. Yes. Such a humble person as well. Yeah. Such a humble person. Now we’ve got to meet him. How many times in America? Yeah,

D3 49:47
I did his writing workshop

Sarah Autumn 49:48
in America. So are you ready? Saju to give us our Peace. Peace. Oh, I’m so excited. Okay, oh, okay. Okay.

Saju Iqbal 50:02
I do this for the culture. For the diaspora that died before us, for the tribes that triumph over nature with nurture, whose hot hands can form fire. Cave carvings are in the Nubian kingdom of Cush 6000 years before Christ. I do this for the culture, for the garments that guard us, from the Dashiki to the Kaftan, Cansu from the Canga, Madiba shirts, Saris and Longhis, Salwar kameez’, Tracksuits and Hoodies, Turban Skull caps and head wraps, yes, we’ve done that and does this a adorned by silk, this is more than a business. I do this for the culture. For the elders that held us that went through hell first, went from being dragged on to slave ships to being dragged off from Delta, Dealt hands, keep your hands up, and don’t move. They want you to watch the world spin. Don’t get dizzy fam, or you miss where the world turns on you. I do this for the culture, for the children, for the My G’s, for the Famalams, and Our kids. For the writers that are righteous that do right by us, for the dreamers, for the 3am window gazes for the body that only remains a memory. I do this for the culture, for my mother, for my sisters, and my brother, for my father, for my cousins that are introduced as my siblings for the old school for the stay over, four to a bed for conversations of what if? I do this for the culture, for the words, for every moment of silence that was forced upon us for a reminder to remain calm. For tin roofs of villages, to story blocks, and stories in mother tongues. Glories stored in drums, I do this for me. The only thing that they can’t control fam. My tongue. My thoughts or my pen.

Sarah Autumn 52:14 Wow. Oh, there he goes. Again.

D3 52:16
You see? All right, we’ve we’ve set the benchmark to find out to find more, you know, live performances and interviews as good as Saju.

Sarah Autumn 52:30
Well, it sounds as though you’ve got a whole crew of them on the leeds, you’ll know. You’ve got some great people you can you can get into the studio.

D3 52:40
I walked in there one day, I didn’t leave for 12 years. But now, this is where I forced you to take part in my quickfire questions where we get to have a little bit of questions round. Yes, yes. Okay. So do it. Well, my show real estate’s roasted tomato sauce fridge, our cupboard. nightwear on their kid, their kids, three O’s every sweet Gecko or guinea pig. Yeah, we need to write these answers down.

Sarah Autumn 53:12 we’re gonna be having a

D3 53:14database of who said what.

Sarah Autumn 53:16
So unfortunately, we’re drawing nearer to the end of the first

Sarah Autumn 53:25
So it’s been fantastic. As I’ve loved hearing from everyone, we’re gonna have one more piece planners out by a chap called Mark Mr. T. Thompson. But before that, I thought we could just wrap up tell you you’ve heard from so far, give you the links, and then we’ll play you out with Mark Thompson. So I’ll just share a couple of links again with you now. So you’ve got young minds.org.uk for young people and parents of young people. You’ve got Leeds community healthcare.nhs.uk. And you’ve got comlinks.co.uk didn’t want to give you any more than that because Leeds community healthcare.nhs.uk will have pretty much all the local services and links that you need. On the show tonight. We’ve had day three performing her very own piece and we have the absolute privilege and luxury that we’re going to have that every single week.

D3 54:16
I’m not performing every single

Sarah Autumn 54:20
Oh, okay. All right. I might, I might brave it at

D3 54:28
some point myself, because I know for a fact she’s got poetry.

Sarah Autumn 54:33
And we also had Gina from save our generation leads born poet also, we had JJ banse, who gave an amazing piece at the start of the show as well as a really, really nice.

D3 54:47
time on YouTube. JJ bantz and that’s BT bounce with a Zed because he’s cool. responds with a Z.

Sarah Autumn 54:54
bantz with a Zed we also had intensive from Sheffield we hoped to get intensive on the show at some point soon also, as well as Gina and JJ bands. In fact, I will go and get them all on at some point. And that’s it, isn’t it in terms of the players pieces that yeah, it’d

D3 55:12
be sure makes you know, you visit our social media pages if you want to get any of that information, you haven’t managed to write it down Tonight Show and you know, if there’s anything that you want to share with us, you know, set up a dialogue on the page, you want to if you’ve got anything to say to us about our theme of the week, obviously being mental health today, you know, share,

Sarah Autumn 55:30
we will get back to you and you know, we can we can talk to each other the name of the game is talk. And we do want the radio show to be, you know, an outlet for performers, an outlet for listeners, and maybe an opportunity to inspire to write down some of your own pieces as well. Yeah. So we’ve got Mark, Mr. T. Thompson. Mark is a South London actor, teacher, and poet, facilitator, and poet. Mark is involved with stand up to racism as I am. And that’s how I first got to meet Mark, but he’s in South London. And he has a whole library of stuff on SoundCloud that you can check out, Mark, Mr. T. Thompson, on SoundCloud, and today’s pays d3. And I chose together because we listened to a few of his tracks. And we felt that this would really end the show well, and tie in beautifully with thinking about mental health and maybe thinking about how to how to think about yourself when you’re thinking about pressure. When you’re thinking about perfectionism, when you’re thinking about what other people do. And when you’re thinking about you’re not enough, we just want you to listen into Mark Mr. T Thompson’s better.

D3 56:41
So thank you Saju for coming in and sharing everything with us. Thank you so much, Sarah. I had a great first loudspeaker. Sure. Thank you for being here. d3. I really hope all you guys out there, really enjoy it. We’re gonna sign off now with this piece from Mark, Mr. C. Thompson. It’s called better.

Mark Mr T Thompson 57:04
Is it better to be surrounded by virtuous people, then be the most virtuous person around to listen to the greatest singer. And to make the sweetest sound better to paint the greatest picture then just find the time to look to be the greatest author then to read the greatest book, better to be the winner of every argument than it is to just be right. Better to be just by yourself than it is to be alone at night. Better to strive toward prevention, and to find some brand new cure to be completely certain instead of simply fairly sure. Better to have more than you need than it is to have enough. Would you prefer to be super fly instead of just a little buff? Is it better to roll with a fist of iron than a hand in a kid glove? Would it be better to be loved truly than it is to truly be in love? Is it better to have loved and lost than not have loved at all. If your love is as deep as mine, that one’s too tough to call. You can add more water to the sea, but you won’t make it much wetter. So shall we aim to be the best each day or just a little better.

Thank you so much to Saju Iqbal and all the artists on featured on this episode!

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