Nadine Aisha: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much ****

@Just Festival

18th Aug only

Spoken Word often gets overlooked during the Fringe so I wanted to ensure I got at least one review of a spoken word artist this year. Nadine Aisha is a strong rebellious voice for women of colour and feminists everywhere so I was keen to review her show.

There was a bit of a wait getting into the venue as the microphone had decided to stop working minutes before the show started. The lack of a mic didn’t detract from Nadine’s performance, as in spite of being softly spoken usually, she projected her voice very well and the chapel at St John’s church provided the ideal acoustic setting.

She announced at the beginning that she was going to be talking about Islamophobia, misogyny and racism, and said that anyone who struggled with the subject matter would be free to leave, she would understand and wouldn’t take it personally.

That compassion for others comes through in her poems, especially in Established 1978, one of my favourites from her set. Published in her debut collection, Still it is about a victim Nadine came across in her work at the Rape Crisis Centre and is a beautifully touching poem of solidarity, of recognising another’s pain and saying ‘I understand.’

Raheema Sayed, a young poet Nadine is mentoring shared the stage with her, giving her first public readings of her own work. While she is shy and unsure to begin with, her short poems were good especially Mother Tongue. I found myself moved by her final poem which was written in Urdu, Raheema reading a line first in Urdu and Nadine echoing it in English.

Nadine weaves the stories of her experience as a mixed-race woman who has endured hate-speech from a child and blatant racism on the street, tales she tells us in poems Scotmid and Hopscotch. She speaks out about things women are often told to keep quiet. She is rebel poet raising up other women with her words.

Sharon Jones