Whispermaze has known Amen Noir for quite some time, more so such a talented individual’s performance at Whispermaze’s first public event, and watching him emerge as a leading interpreter of poetic brilliance on the performance scene, has been without doubt, to watch and see; the inspirational evolvement of an artist. From the humble beginnings of South London, enthused and inspired by the happenings of everyday life, as a poet he has become a nationally and internationally recognised artist, bringing a dynamism and impact unlike the likes rarely seen in the arena. And Amen Noir does not shy from his roots, as they facilitate the passion for the ‘Word’, #This Afrikan warrior of words, in Oct '03 Amen Noir [as part of *B.K.S] presented & hosted the legendary David Nelson of the Last Poets, with support from the 'First Poets'. B.K.S performed an hour plus set to introduce the legends and set the platform, upon which his translation of spoken word resonates a feeling for the people, by the ‘peoples’, a form of expression that has given Amen Noir the passion his undoubted form of articulation requires.
...It is, a diverse world, embracing of difference is all important to that world, if anything that principle is the most important because it enables you to engage, with that world...
WM: I guess you have added reason to be, after telling me you’re about to become a father again, anytime now, I can see just how happy you are, in relation to that, what for the future for Amen Noir?
AN: For the past twelve years, amongst other projects, I’ve been working on establishing an institution of learning, this institution geared to training staff who in turn pass on their skills to the next generation, I firmly believe the generation of 35-45 year olds has an important role to play with reference to this, it’s about educating the next generation in terms of their talents as well as the social skills needed to even coexist in this world, an institution that keeps influencing the social necessities enabling individuals to realise their aspirations.
WM: So do tell, what advice, if any, do you have for those treading the same expressional/educated path as you?
AN: I grew up with the understanding that to ‘know thyself’; was what was needed, what it essentially means, taken away the colloquial and culture affiliations, ultimately it means to know your history, your family your skills your body, all these things and granted many others, in essence stay true to yourself is the one piece of advice I’d give.
WM: Well I thank you for your words of wisdom, Amen Noir it has indeed been a pleasure.
AN: Most welcome.
WM: Not sure if you remember, but some seven years ago we collaborated on an event I hosted, back at the Bernie Grants Arts Centre, just to say it’s good to see you in good spirits and good health. In saying that, clearly you still have a passion for what you do, what are those passions still?
AN: An expansive question, I guess my passions can be best described as education being a fundamental element, using my passion for poetry, for expression, intertwining the two is what makes Amen Noir tick. I have a passion for teaching and most of the time teaching young people in need of; frankly speaking guidance they otherwise are not getting. How I teach, the methods I use to get the lesson over to the student, impacting on their lives in a positive manner is where I know my passion lies, and to then see students evolve, grow up as they do, knowing the lessons in a sense set them ready for the progression of which is life, there I guess is where the passion is at.
WM: So, in keeping with these passions you have, what are your objectives, or better still, what are the principles that best guide your objectives in relation to your passions?
AN: A lot of my work now is geared to young people, I always found that when I first started performing poetry; the underlying reason my poetry evolved was underpinned by my drive for freedom of expression, my work, my poems, my collaborations with Best Kept Secrets, the docu-film I done entitled Underworld, which looked at the history and culture of spoken word in the UK, everything done is done with freedom of expression being the most important element of my career, regarding the performances or the educational initiatives I undertake. It is, a diverse world, embracing of difference is all important to that world, if anything that principle is the most important because it enables you to engage, with that world, and through my teaching, taking on the creative nature of expression, freedom of speech is essentially the ability to be heard.
WM: And what an ability, you have staying power as well, I say this because I know you have been in the industry for as long as you have been, and with the teaching that you do, and the performances you give on the subject matters they are, how important is it that what you do, you still enjoy?
AN: You’ve got to enjoy what you do, that is where the passion gets its strength from, there’s always a chance you can have too much knowledge, and when I say too much that same knowledge can cloud your expression of things, granted a lot of the time things are as unkind as they are but you have to stay calm, allow yourself to be enjoyed, to enjoy what your expression chooses to express, a bit like Dave Chapelle, this guy funny but he also very smart, you go to one of his shows you’ve laughed a lot but you also learnt something, using his humour, always a good idea to moderate that from time to time, and I’m happy, look at this smile.
I guess my passions can be best described as education being a fundamental element, using my passion for poetry, for expression, intertwining the two is what makes Amen Noir tick.