First a big welcome. Please update your links to me on your blogrolls, though of course I have left a link at Blogspot redirecting people here.
There’s a whole ‘scene’ in London which as far as I know is pretty unique, although I can’t be sure. It used to be known as ‘Survivor’s Poetry’, but that also seemed to cover music. It is a sort of blend of politicised madness as in Mad Pride and Survivors [of the psychiatric system] Speak Out and a kind of bohemian underground scene which could really only thrive in an enormous city like London.
There are regular gigs at various venues around the city, where you usually get some headlining acts plus a lot of ‘spot’ performances from various poets and other artists. I would have to say honestly that the results can be a bit patchy and shambolic at times but then your patience will be rewarded by hearing an absolute gem.
The whole ethos is quite ‘punk’ I guess…the emphasis being that pretty much everyone who has been through the mental health system has something valuable to say. Audiences consisting largely of ‘the converted’ (and other performers) tend to be quite supportive and give everyone a clap regardless of how intelligible they were, just for having the bottle to get up there! And maybe that’s about right. It does take bottle! More than I’ve got for sure!
If it’s a shambles sometimes maybe that’s a part of it’s charm. We’re all too used to slick professionalism. Anyway I think these gigs and the Bonkersfest definitely contribute something to the sum of human happiness and do very little harm. I’m aware that sounds a little patronising. Put it this way, I want to support them but my sceptical mind tends to get in the way.
Anyway it was an enjoyable day on Camberwell Green ‘celebrating madness, creativity and eccentricity’. According to the programme, after last year’s event MindFreedom International acknowledged Bonkersfest as ‘the biggest grassroots mad-run public arts event in the world’, so I guess that is an achievement. I wanted to visit the ‘Denormalisation Tent’ which sounded like a great concept but was disappointed on that score as so did everyone else including a couple of film crews!
One last quote: ‘Bonkersfest is a celebration of the creativity of mad people, and pride in our unique way of looking at life, our internal world externalised and shared with others without shame, as a valid way of life. Bonkersfest is challenging the idea that madness is something to be hidden; it realises that visibility counts in order to break the stigma that has a stranglehold over every single mad person alive today. Bonkersfest is saying ‘yes,yes’ to life even if it embarrasses the ‘normals’.’
Anyway what do you think? Love, Zoe.