Living in a society where most second and third generation children of immigrant
struggle with finding a place to call home, we find our solitude sharing our truths in
communities of ‘home’ that we’ve had to create in spaces where a few decades ago we
had no voices in.
Lola Oh, is a Brit(ish) poet and writer, born to a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father. She often uses her work as a way of exploring identity, home, and the ideas of black
Timestamp, a poem by Lola Oh, explores the mistreatment of the black body over
different periods in time and its impact on the younger generation. Written at a time,
when black bodies were shown nearly weekly on the news and social media outlets
being abused, maimed and killed by the establishment, this poem is a dark reminder
that this trend did not start with the birth of videophones and social media, but a trend
that was in fact publicly celebrated by the establishment.
What inspired the poem?
“The poem came out of a need for it to be written. The policing of the black body is not
a new issue, but the rising use of social media means that we [black people] are now
able to document these moments of injustice. At the time of writing the poem, I had
been witnessing countless news stories of police brutality in the US, and levels of knife
crime in the capital had started to rise drastically. Alongside this, I had been researching
the history of the black (female) body for my dissertation, and was horrified by the
stories I read – particularly that of Sarah Bartman, who features in the first stanza of the
poem. What frustrated me most was the media’s depiction of these tragic events, and
how most stories dehumanised the black body. I wanted to focus not only on these
issues, and how they affect us as a community, but to also try and tell these stories from
a different perspective – to give a voice to those who are so easily denied it in society.”
– Lola Oh
Since her first performance of the poem, Lola’s growth has been immense with her
taking part in Apples & Snake’s Writer’s Room sessions & showcase, and she has co-
written and will be starring in ‘Women Must’ – a show directed by Kat Francois, as part of The Roundhouse’s Last Word Festival 2019.
You can watch Timestamp by clicking here > https://youtu.be/2kzwqY-IFfU <
More of Lola’s work can be found at www.instagram.com/damilolaoh
Ironically, Director and poet, Abu B. Yillah, first crossed paths with Lola at The
Roundhouse a year ago, where they had both been attending BoxedIN Clash, a spin-off
of one of London’s many safe spaces for emerging and established writers. Abu had
seen the video of Lola’s performance and had already been a fan of her vivid use of
imagery and themes. With his extensive background in turning poems into motion
pictures, the masterpiece poetry film Timestamp was conceived.
What inspired the film?
“When I first heard timestamp, I knew then that it deserved more than just the audience
of these safe spaces disguised as poetry events. During the filming process, I especially
opted for mainly moving shots to signify that as much as the world tries to knock as
down, we continue moving.” – Abu B. Yillah
Prior to filming timestamp, Abu had worked with a plethora of artists and organizations
both in the UK and overseas immortalizing poems and more. His most notable film to
date is a poem by Rueben Braithwaite called ‘Young London’ which explores the life
of the young people growing up in London trying not to be lured down the wrong path,
commissioned by Safer London.
He has also been commissioned by Museum of London, Spread the Word – one of the
UK’s largest poetry organizations, the Separated Child Foundation, and most recently
was the lead cinematographer for Africa Young Voices (AYV) Media Empire’s week-
long coverage of the Sierra Leone’s delegates at the world’s leading travel trade show,
More of Abu’s work can be found at www.Yillah.co.uk