The spell of slam poetry and compulsion of art

“Prepare to be Varjacked!” This is how fellow artists in the performance scene describes or, more appropriately, warns the audience of writer and contemporary performer Paula Varjack. It refers to the idea of being hit with real and immediate impact with a certain act. “I’d like to kind of leave with something that I think has either a message or creates a certain feeling or makes you think afterwards.”

For more than 6 years now, this British-American performer has been working as a full-time artist and her works has taken a variety and hybrid of forms ranging from spoken words, monologues, devised performance, videography, audio-visual pieces, stories and poems. Mostly in London, Berlin and Washington DC, she has also been touring in different cities not only in the UK but also around Europe. 

Paula’s disposition of being from all the places and prancing around practically everywhere inspired the title of her latest two-month tour Always Back From Somewhere, which sees her performing in England, Belgium, Scotland, Germany and Denmark. The tour started on the 7th of October with the whole month spent guesting in events around London and eventually the rest of the UK. With half of the tour remaining, she’ll be spending most of November outside the country culminating to her last performance on the 21st of the month at South Bank Centre in London as part of the celebration of Polari’s (multi award-winning LGBT literary salon) fourth birthday.

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Stephenie Meyer’s ‘biggest fan’ queued for almost 13 hours to meet the author

A horde of eager fans flocked to Waterstones Piccadilly and waited in line from dawn to twilight for a chance to meet bestselling author Stephenie Meyer. Out of the hundreds of people who willingly sat in one of London’s busiest pavement, 23 year-old Sinead Tobin Belmont claimed the place at the top end of the line.

Faithful fan, Sinead, arrived outside Europe’s biggest bookstore way before it was even open, sat at the foot of the door and patiently waited for the event to start. She said: “I arrived at 5:30 am and was waiting for twelve and a half hours before the event started at 6pm.” Now, that’s what I call dedication! Thankfully, for her, the day turned out to be England’s rare, dry and even sunny kind of day.

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Thriving through the ‘tension between certainty and ambiguity’

The banner in front of the Unity Church in Upper Street is sure to catch every passer-by’s attention. “Heathens and heretics welcome!”, it says in big bold letters. This phrase is not something normally associated with a church, if at all. But then, churches don’t normally have an atheist minister.

Rev. Andrew Pakula is from America and he came here six years ago to head the Unitarian churches in Upper Street and Newington Green. He earned a PhD in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and joined the biotechnology industry. Eventually, he left his career as a scientist to pursue a ministerial vocation. Nonetheless, he remained an atheist and even anti-religious in some ways.

A common way of dividing the world is into the religious and the atheist. Here arises the conflict between Rev. Andy’s stance about faith and religion and his job. It is intriguing or rather confusing because of the whole baggage of stereotypes associated with religion. On the contrary, he said that the word religion can mean a bunch of different things and “Depending on how you use that and what you consider to be a religion, it can be quite different.”

When you look at the fundamental core of Unitarianism the fog of confusion starts to evaporate. Rev. Andy said, “I call it a ‘way’. Let’s call it a way.

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