Exploring Gratitude with the Great Annotate

The evolution of Annotate as a creative has been a heartwarming experience for his fellow creatives and audiences to witness over the years. We have the pleasure of getting to know how that evolution began as he graces the cover of our latest Flow Feature 2022 digital series. Captivating audiences with incredibly intense performances each and every time, we explore the multiple layers that make Annotate one of the best wordsmiths contributing to modern arts and culture in London today.

What are some of the key inspirations behind your writings?

As a creative, whether it be a musician, poet, or artist, we all create from within. Hardship can be a key source of inspiration when it comes to writing and this was the case with Annotate’s early works. Pen to paper became his way of expressing how he felt during a time where life was weighing heavy but also required him to be at his best. His conversion to Islam further laid the foundations for his love for writing which swiftly developed into a love for performing his work. It wasn’t long before his diverse delivery and depth of content became highly recognised and he began headlining shows across London. In 2018, Annotate was selected by Natalie Stewart to join the Flo Poet collective which is an initiative he is honoured to be a part of.

My first pieces conveyed the messages that I wanted them to at first, but I later realised that it wasn’t working for me.

Annotate

After a string of successful performances and opportunities, Annotate decided to take a time out from poetry to reflect on the feedback he had received. Modern poetry and spoken word is still considered a niche sector within arts and culture, but the effect that it has had on areas such as mental health, education, and more cannot be denied. It’s an art that can often be misunderstood but can also be related to in the same way. It wasn’t too long before his love for poetry re-emerged and after finding a deeper belief in gratitude he began to release new work and enjoy the process along the way. One of the first new pieces that he released was called Gratitude, and it was the piece that gave him the following and recognition he deserved.

Gratitude [2016]:  https://youtu.be/L_YXjSxiPf0

Things were falling into the right places for the wordsmith, but his new approach to poetry and performing wasn’t about simply conveying the messages that he wanted anymore. It was about breaking boundaries and not limiting himself as an artist. He wanted to expand his creative focus whilst staying true to who he was, and it was this attitude that birthed what came to be known as Just Rhyme.

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What inspired you to launch Just Rhyme?

It’s very hard for new poets to shine and Just Rhyme provided a safe space for all poets to do that without judgement.

Annotate

Just Rhymes launched in 2018 with the help of the Revert to Reality charity with the aim of creating a safe space for Muslim poets to share freely. The event launch almost never happened after Annotate’s phone was stolen just before the first event with all his plans, poems, and notes gone with it. It was a very demotivating time and he contemplated whether to go ahead or cancel all together, but the wheels were already in motion and there was no turning back. The first Just Rhyme event was a huge success with over 100 people coming out to support the new poetry initiative. Although he was unsure how he would be received as a poet launching an event that he was so personally connected to, Just Rhyme proved that being a poet is all that mattered. The event quickly progressed to become inclusive of all poets from all walks of life despite being based on the ethos of Islam.

I took pride in being able to unite two communities through poetry.

Annotate

Street Tales [2018]: https://youtu.be/edm6cdbu17s

Running a poetry event is far from easy. Just like launching any event it comes with its challenges, and as the poetry community grows so does those challenges. What was once launched with love and unity in mind can quickly turn into a competitive space where favouritism comes before the art. Over time the Just Rhyme team began to experience the pressure of trying to make everyone happy when it wasn’t possible. Just Rhyme was based on being inclusive in addition to focusing on the writer that graced their stage to perform. Once managing the event became physically and emotionally taxing the Just Rhyme team decided to go out with the bang they started with. They launched their last show in collaboration with Barclays bank which was a final success in their run of uniting two communities through poetry and more.

I miss it but I don’t regret it. For me, it’s always been about the individual’s writing ability and what they have to offer.

Annotate

What can we expect to see of Annotate before the end of 2022?

Poetry will always be a branch of Annotate’s creative life. He will always love writing and performing, but for the amount of time and effort that he invests in his art as a creative, he has at times felt as if that investment has often been overlooked. With so many poets elevating at the same time, it’s easy for some to feel like their work has been lost in a saturated scene despite the constant and consistent energy that goes into writing and performing at headline levels. Annotate has more than proven he is one of the most memorable spoken word poets of today, and we here at Wordplay & Flow know first hand he is a brilliant writer outside of the art. Not only has he contributed some amazing content to our very own platform, but he has written for other notable platforms including Comic Book Resources which you can check out here. His work ethic is unmatched and hasn’t gone unnoticed by those that appreciate what goes into being a creative and taking a leap of faith to support the creatives around them.

Confessions [2019]: https://youtu.be/yo_aGD5fLok 

I get more appreciation from the people I don’t know which motivates me to continue. When my work truly resonates with someone, that, for me, is the best thing about performing poetry.

Annotate

You know we love to get the inside scoop on what our features have in store for us to look forward to and it’s great to know that Annotate is back to doing what he does best. He recently took part in the BT Sport ‘Sports in Words’ show on the 4th September which is to be released on the 1st October. He’s also working on a six-track EP to be released at the end of 2022, and he will continue to contribute his brilliant work here at Wordplay & Flow that our audiences love so much. We can’t wait to see what’s next but in the meantime keep an eye out for the new work and catch him on a London stage near you.

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Creative Director & Writer: Tannika Taylor [@tannikataylor]

Photographer: Matthias [@mattys.gallery]

Cover Design: Simplexity Creative Council [@simplexitycc]

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