Antonia Jade King

Devon born London based poet Antonia King has featured at events such as ‘Poetry and Shaah’, ‘Heaux Noire’ 'RAP Party’, and is a recent Hammer and Tongue finalist. She currently hosts Boomerang Club in Hammersmith and when she isn’t 'poet-ing’ she is tackling her Masters, researching the role of Black Women in Civil Rights Organisations

The Venue Is Being Hunted

2014 and my and my friend and I are dancing to a new reggae band under rainbow lights and disco balls 
they tell us it is their first gig and they thank the venue for giving them a chance to perform
the audience cheer them on and paint the walls with voices and applause
my friend is drunk but safe 
I am sober but happy
and the singer of the band is trying to dance as well as sing 
and he is failing
my friend is screaming in my ear “I really love this place”
I reply “yeh, me too”
2015 I am now sharing poetry upstairs the audience are sat on rugs under rainbow lights and disco balls
taking the weight of their feet
and I am nervous but safe
the bartender is trying to listen whilst also getting people sugary cocktails 
and he is also failing, but he tried 
I get a hug and cheers as I leave the stage
we paint the walls with our voices and applause
then I hear there were noise complaints
the sounds of our voices are apparently offensive
some people who moved to the area don’t like the sound of the joy
so they tell us to take down our voices and rainbow lights and disco balls
to stay quiet
like the hunter telling the prey not to scream because it hurts his ears
they want to kill us quietly 
2014 and my friend and I are still dancing
safely
under rainbow lights and disco balls
the band is still thankful for a chance to perform
but we didn’t know that a predator was watching and calling us noisy
we hear that the venue has closed
that the land was bought, that the building was seized 
that jobs were lost and that our microphones were taken
by people who call themselves property developers 
by hunters who call themselves hungry
did they not own enough of Hackney?
did they not own enough?
I hear there were many noise complaints
but does the hunter even know why the prey screams?
it’s a survival instinct
vocal chords are the preys defence
and if they dislike noise, destruction is so much louder than joy anyway
have they ever heard bulldozers and screams before?
they say we are noisy 
I say that we removed silence from out vocabulary when you took our stages and dance floors and rainbow lights and microphones
it’s 2014 and a reggae band is still thanking the venue for giving them a chance to perform
the singer leaves the stage to applause and hugs
he is smiling like he’s just come home
and my friend and I decide that we love this place
a year later I share poetry upstairs
I thank the venue for giving me a chance to perform
we raise money for charity and I leave the stage to hugs
I smile like I’ve just come home and the bartender says 
“good job”
my friend tells me that she still loves this place
“yeh, me too” 
we are drunk sober and happy
2016 we hear that passing clouds has closed
we hear of hunters and their noise complaints
of the property developers and their hunger
we cry, for hackney and for all stolen buildings
we cry for bands and poets with no venue to thank

a documentary tells me hunters work in teams to surround their prey
before going in for the kill
apparently surrounding prey in their home is most effective
and a statement on passing clouds website confirmed that this is indeed how evil works,
by taking homes and voices. Hackney is not safe, the hunter always wins, I suppose.

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