A brand new UK tour of poetry & performance – from Lydia Towsey, Shruti Chauhan and Jean Binta Breeze MBE


Audience Ordinance

It’s been several months since the close of 3THW-Part 2 and now the dust has settled a little we’re in quite a reflective mood. As we plot plans for what we hope will be a third instalment (with some new people and ideas for a broader collective with considerable legacy)  we’re looking back on what we loved about the tour in 2015. Here’s just a fraction of what the audience had to say in each of places we visited – which was quite a lot, but there are pictures…

Leicester,  Upstairs at the Western


Ambrose Musiyiwa, guesting. 

‘Great show, really inspirational and thought provoking poetry! Keep up the great work!’

‘It was nice to hear each woman’s experiences through their cultural perspectives. Their performance was both inspirational and informative.’

‘Really, really enjoyed the show – it was funny, interesting and emotional. Well done all 3 – hope to see you back on stage again soon!’

‘Absolutely loved the show, you were all amazing! Keep it all up! Some really engaging and inspiring poetry – much appreciated by the English teacher!’

‘Thank you for letting us into your world of words this evening and broadening our horizons! Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to hearing more in the future.’


Leicester, Night of Festivals

‘We’ve had a wonderful evening.’

‘Wow! Have no words … Just amazing.’

‘Like nothing I’ve ever seen before – I was so moved.’

‘A nice blend of different cultures and styles. A very enjoyable experience. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.’

‘You were all amazing, thank you for sharing your words with us. It was really refreshing to hear different perspectives on the issues covered. I very much enjoyed the evening and good luck for the coming events!’


Bilston, Bilston Town Hall

audience 3

‘Enjoyable, fun, mind provoking and challenging. Keep it up. Three the hard way JA, Asia and UK. One love.’

‘A very enjoyable night – powerful and thought provoking performance by all 3. Thank you for an inspiring evening.’

‘I must say this has been an eye opening and extremely enjoyable experience. Not something I would have ordinarily sought out but that will change from now on. Fantastic performance by all. Well done!’

‘Incredible. Really inspiring. Keep spreading your passion and words.’

‘Once again an evening of enriched poetry, shared by 3 kindred spirits, journeying different times to this point … yet still the similarities in their stories showed the reality. Thank you Jean, Lydia and Shruti. Dearly best wishes’


Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Library.

‘Life affirming, moving, powerful, Thank you so much.’

‘Thought provoking, memories of mocking birds habitat given over to building concrete. The Sanskrit references wonderful and Welsh language and names that could have been; I love it all well done ladies and thank you.’

‘Love the variety between the three, beautiful words, beautiful voices and beautiful singing. Wishing all of you the best. Much love.’

‘Thoroughly enjoyed listening to your stories, how wonderful to see artist across nations, generations, cultures join together in such an inspirational way. Keep doing your ‘stuff’ sharing and inspiring others. Thank you for the experience. Only halfway through and enjoying every minute. I didn’t know what to expect but the words all three of you speak have and will stay with me for a long time. I hope your trio continues for a long time and many more people are able to experience what you have to offer. Keep up the great work.’ ‘Most entertaining and rollercoasting of emotions night ever.’


London, Apples and Snakes, The Free Word Centre.

‘First ever spoken word poetry I’ve been to. I am now a fan! Thank you guys!’

‘Lydia – Such effortless versatility! Amazing talent! Jean – hilarious! Shruti – Rising star!’

‘I just wanted to say that I loved the personal experiences shared and can’t wait to hear more’

‘I really enjoyed the performance. It evoked some poignant themes and was well co-ordinated. I also enjoyed the workshop.’

‘Wonderful – together and singular – women of voice and name – of song and history. Inspirational.’


Brighton, New Writing South, The Writers Place

Alice Denny brighton

Alice Denny, Guesting

‘Loved it! Loved the overlaps and the inventive ways of blending the poems.’

‘You guys were awesome to watch, funny, interesting, inspiring. Can’t wait to see you guys perform again!’

‘A completely amazing life changing evening. Words with Umami. Thank you’

‘Loved the combination of viewpoints and voices. Excellent workshop – thank you. Greatly, expertly, teasing the words out. Fun as well and so much done in the time. Then your poems. Alice the prelude taking us to unaccustomed places and your different voices – singing, not the same song, nor the same time but together.’

‘Very polished performance and some beautiful poetry.’


Manchester Literature Festival/ Contact Theatre


‘What an inspiring way to give us your poetry – separately, together, overlapping, chorusing, a very good night.’

‘Love the variety between the three, beautiful words, beautiful voices and beautiful singing. Wishing all of you the best. Much love.’

‘Really wonderful show. Beautiful symphony between you three. Confidence, sensitivity and playfulness. Really gorgeous and inspiring. Thanks. Love and all the best for the rest of the tour.’ Shamshad Khan.

‘ACE! So much to it. So much variety. Really starting to love poetry in Manchester.’


Birmingham, The Drum

the drum

‘Blessed is this performance that we have enjoyed so much – to hear the history of England and the rest of the world.’

‘Amazing show today. It was very expressive, serious, political and personal. You guys correlate very well with each other and I hope you share more of your wisdom and poetry nationally. Well done!!! ‘

‘It was an amazing show, it was the first time I have been to a poetry show, but I know I will be coming again. Thank you.’

‘This was my first time experiencing what you ladies expressed today. Not really knowing what to expect, I am feeling very overwhelmed. It has inspired me to get creative. I truly support your movement. God Bless!’

‘Well done. I really enjoyed it. I was the loudest person in the audience clapping and laughing.’


Northampton, The Guildhall

northampton stage shot

‘Was fantastic connecting particularly with the Caribbean roots. The stories were powerfully put across all the continents – our stories are not at all dissimilar – just expressed differently. Thoroughly enjoyed the event – keep it up!’Judith Glashen, Chair, NHFT BME Network

‘My name is Jamie. I would like to say that I am impressed by the dedication, consideration, love and general desire to inspire the hearts of people to do well and educate themselves. I have got from this experience a feeling that everyone wanted to help one another. This was a truly great experience. The intention and the actual work is a great help to people and offers hope. When you give all you can then it shows genuine love.’

‘I came to see the place for the first time and I enjoyed myself so much.’

‘Loved the Caribbean poet – wonderful accent. ‘Blood clat’. Loved the Gujarati poet – Kaka, fua, mami, masi. Loved the Welsh poet – ‘I never said I could sing’

‘Thoroughly enjoyed listening to your stories, how wonderful to see artist across nations, generations, cultures join together in such an inspirational way. Keep doing your ‘stuff’ sharing and inspiring others. Thank you for the experience. Only halfway through and enjoying every minute. I didn’t know what to expect but the words all three of you speak have and will stay with me for a long time. I hope your trio continues for a long time and many more people are able to experience what you have to offer. Keep up the great work.’


Loughborough, LU Arts.

Loughborough Beth Hartshorne

‘Well done to the trio. There was a relationship and harmony and flow and attraction to every single one of your performances. You guys have worked really hard and thank you for doing something different and special.’

A nice blend of different cultures and styles. A very enjoyable experience. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.’

‘This is a great show – really enjoying myself. A unique mix of voices, styles and sounds – lots of smiles and moments to reflect. Great to see so many people around loving the show too. P.S. I used to teach Shruti A level English Lit. PPS update Just heard 2nd half – structure is fantastic. A real political punch!’

‘What beautiful wordsmiths you are! Warm, witty and very clever! Thank you for coming to Loughborough!’

‘I had a great time and your workshop activities helped me to think about writing in a different way. It is so easy to overthink writing and the exercises are definitely ones I’ll use in the future.’



‘Invest in peace, not war’

As the UK joins airstrikes in Syria, our government continues an attempt to normalise war in the public imagination, implementing a plan to increase support for armed solutions in the wake of unpopular conflicts. The strategy, intensified by George Osbourne in July of this year, includes:

  • Investing £50m to aggressively expand cadet forces across state schools (550 by 2020.)
  • Arms companies and the military sponsoring new academies and influencing what they teach.
  • Military personnel being fed into classrooms as speakers, recruiters and teachers.

All of this is taking place with virtually no public debate or wider scrutiny.

I became aware of the above thanks to The Unseen March – a short film produced by Quakers in Britain, featuring  concerned teachers alongside activists like Mark Thomas and Veterans for Peace campaigner, Ben Griffin. Designed to start a public debate on this issue, for me it’s essential viewing, now more than ever.

Over the next fortnight Jean, Shruti and I will be releasing final ‘3THW-Part 2’ films  – covering  very different themes. To kick us off, here’s mine – with thanks to filmmaker, Andrew Lee – aswell as our credited partners for supporting our tour.  To quote Paul Parker, of the above campaign and organisation, ‘invest in peace, not war.’


If you’re concerned about the militarisation of education, #unseenmarch suggest a number of ways you can get involved, from writing to your MP to approaching your local school; see here for more information: http://old.quaker.org.uk/Take-action#ask

LU Arts / Poems / Babies & Photographs

Two weeks on from our last post and the final part of our latest tour and ‘Three the Hard Way – Part 2’  has drawn to a mighty close. We had such a wonderful time at our last three dates – and across the tour as a whole. It’s amazing to reflect on how much the concept, reach and content of what we’ve been able to share has grown since we first set out  with ‘Three the Hard Way – Part One’; from the way we’ve developed it formally, building up and varying our ensemble performance, to the conversation we’ve been in a position to begin, across three continents and three generations, exploring where we meet and where most comfortable or uncomfortable. We’re currently in the midst of very exciting discussions as we plan our next steps – so watch this website space for more detail and courtesy of Andrew Lee Productions, some on-tour poem trailers . . .

Meanwhile, we of course have more to tell you about this leg of things. Our finale date was in Loughborough, hosted by LU Arts at Loughborough University’s Student Union…

The space was particularly packed out, perhaps a combination of it being our last date and Shruti being a first class honours, English Lit returning hero Alumni! One gentleman was actually seeing the show for a second time, having enjoyed it so much on his first go, in Birmingham. Compering was done by the effortlessly capable, Kerry Featherstone – creative writing lecturer at the university, poet and translator.

It was a really good one for us, for my part (Lydia) with that weird feeling of finale-ism (last time we’ll do this show, in this way) running from one poem to the next. In a strange contrast of endings and beginning, Ruby Rose, my new born, turned 3 months old that night and came as close as ever to seeing it through to the end…if only due to the fact that the back of the space backed out onto a broader set of bars, into which she was able to (pram)rock/loiter-in-arms with my mother-in-law. Of course, generally speaking, we’re certain the show has had a profound effect on her…

Our LU Arts show was opened for us by two exceptionally talented university students, Ralph and Malika – who’d attended our workshop. The standard of workshop writing was all round impressive, so all power to Loughborough Uni and it’s Creative Writing Department. Below are some pieces from just a couple of the attendees.

More again to follow soon – meantime, see here for some lovely on-tour pictures (the professional equivalent of holiday photos and who doesn’t love them, #WhenFacebookisnotEnough) Looking at them again, I can’t help thinking of a lovely piece on photographs by Margaret Atwood, in her wonderful book of tales and essays, The Tent – a book I referred to a couple of times during 3THW workshops – to quote a little:

‘No more photos. Surely there are enough. No more
shadows of myself thrown by light onto pieces of paper,
onto squares of plastic. No more eyes, mouths,
noses, moods, bad angles. No more yawns, teeth, wrinkles
I suffer from my own multiplicity…’

Our teeth and wrinkles, noses and angles await your generous attention.

It has required, may I say, a mythological effort to not smuggle in any baby photographs #WhenFacebookisnotEnough, #IntheFuture, #NoPromises, #It’saDisease.


Now for those wonderful workshop pieces…






Fay Banks/ Lost Synonym

Lost Synonym

Home is my mum filling in a Saturday crossword
Blowing the strands that stray from her fringe
and furrowing her brow
It is watching as she recalls the vast knowledge of her memory
Dragging words from her past to the here and the now
Home is my mum filling in a Saturday crossword
and my dad sat confused with his smartphone again,
Using his finger like a pen on the screen and
Ringing his sister for the eighth time that day
Home is my mum filling in a Saturday crossword
Clutching at words that are trying to hide
Fighting against all those small blank white squares
With an old OED and the dog at her side
Home is my mum filling in a Saturday crossword
and searching for a lost synonym
in the backlog of her memory
It’s in there,
she knows it
But time has erased too much.






Naomi Riley-Dudley Friend / i/you / home







they should be there for you when something’s

not how it used to be, not push you into

doing things that are sad and nostalgic


in front of them everything changed


but don’t be afraid, even if

you have both good and bad memories

not in the ways you hoped








i expect too much from myself

you are not to be regarded as an object of thought or action


i like baking

you think things made are separate parts put together


i wish i could sleep better

you are fundamentally clear and pure


i write poetry

you don’t like trusting our memories or trusting the mind to act on its own


i find it hard to make decisions

you are more like the thought process.








home is where I eat my dinner late at night

my silver knife and fork scraping on

the square plate, contemplating the day

I’ve had wondering what to do next


home is where I eat my dinner late at night

the place where all my thoughts have grown

opening the front door and wiping my feet

on the grey mat


home is where I eat my dinner late at night

when the room is quiet and I can hear the buzz

from the glass light above my head

home is where I eat my dinner late at night


and peak behind velvet curtains to look

at the moon in the sky, and down the street

at the dimly lit houses


home is where I eat my dinner late at night.



Last Three, Three…

Tomorrow, October 29th we come to the Drum in Birmingham – a theatre we’ve both been to and performed at before individually, so know to be wonderful.

The next day, on October 30th we’re in Northampton – working with the wonderful BMR SRP.

Then on Monday, November 2nd we have our last date with Loughborough University in association with LU Arts.

How can this second part of our tour be nearly at an end?!

Knee deep in some very exciting developments with the show, we’ll post again soon but for now really wanted to share a small sample of work arising from the workshops we’ve been taking round the country too.

If you are considering coming to any of our remaining dates, it might interest you to know that each of the shows will be accompanied by a such a workshop. To book a place, free in all cases, contact the respective venue (see tour dates, linked to above). Now for those amazing pieces, with great thanks to three talented writers who produced them…


BRIGHTON/ Neighbour/ Patricia Childerhouse

I move into a quiet street.
Each night at 3am your dog
barks for (what feels like) hours
outside my bedroom window.
I put a politely worded note
through your door. You write
a complaint about my clematis
that’s rampant over your wall.
(Your backyard shows a love
of bricks and concrete slabs
no plants at all.)

Each night the dog barks
and I lie awake, and so I try
another note. You ring my bell,
introduce Queenie who wags her tail.
“She’s a rescue dog,” you say,
“not young. She can’t get through
the night without a pee.”
(I know that condition well.)
“She has to have a dog-flap,”
you say, “then cats upset her.”
I stroke Queenie’s willing nose,
sleep deep that night, and
in the morning trim the clematis.


SHREWSBURY/ Home / Penelope Simpson.

is where we open hands
no need to close up doors or fists,
unlock, unwind, unravel.
Holding hands together
on the sofa, passing
love from hand to hand.

Home is kitchen heat and water,
chop and cook it, plate and clatter,
hands pass salt
around a table.

Home is sleeping
soft together, now and now
and tomorrow,
falling gentle always

is waking in the morning
sun in window,
love is sunshine
morning breaking darkness,
waking hearts.


LONDON/ Home is/ Charmaine Brown

Home is my body wrapped tightly in my arms as I embrace my spirituality. My body is a temple so sacred that it gives me great comfort.

Home is the blissful feeling of being at one with myself and God.

Home is the joy of being with my Riah ‘Boom Boom’ and Gasi ‘Goo Goo’, two cherubs with infectious smiles, mischievous and entertaining, whilst at the same time full of fun.

Home is being in the comfort of my bed, wrapped in an exquisite duvet, lying on my nugabest heated infrared mattress.

Home is living in peace and quiet as I watch the crazy world go by.

Home is…

Three the Hard Way: Workshop and Manchester Literature Festival Performance

Thanks to the talented Charlotte Maxwell for this fabulous reflection.

Only My Shelf to Blame


As I have mentioned previously, I’m a writer at all times of the day and night. I’d always enjoyed writing as a child, but my writing journey started back when I was at sixth form (around 6 years ago). After being published in a couple of anthologies and competing in the Wordsmith poetry slam, I joined Young Identity.
And with a small proportion of Young Identity, I had the pleasure of being the curtain raising act for Three the Hard Way: a collective made up of Lydia Towsey, Shruti Chauhan and one of my favourite poets, Jean Binta Breeze. The performance was part of Manchester Literature Festival 2015.
Three the Hard Way is a poetic and song filled journey that explores women’s experiences and different cultures across three generations and three continents. All of these women are experienced and talented poets, in their own right.


Prior to the evening event…

View original post 260 more words

Free Word, London

Another update from the road. Last night was lovely, gadding it as we were down Free Word way in sunny London. Sunny we say as though it is October we are in England and Leicester, in our absence (we are led to believe) was significantly colder. My mother-in-law (this is Lydia writing) tells us that her grey coat was “black with rain”. So there. Everything is relative and we fortunate in our geography.

We had a lovely time. Around 80 people packed the beautiful space and the show was a sell out. The curtain raiser, featuring local artists: Kes Gill-Martin, Sharon Whyte, Elise Harris, Charmaine Brown and Maxine Skervin (whose work was read for her in her unavoidable absence) was really, really good. Many things were said and books and postcards bought. Ruby Rose (my 10 week old cherub) beamed at everyone she could lock eyes with – if I didn’t know better I would call it smiling with intent. Obviously, she stole the show without saying a word. She’ll be available for workshops in the near future.

Thanks to wonderful Apples and Snakes for booking us, Free Word for having us, managing our many bags in their stylish closets and crowd controlling us and our fabulous audience at the end.

Here are two pictures:london pic 2

Tomorrow we come to The Writers Place (9 Jew Street, Brighton) leaving early-ish to make a late afternoon workshop, 4-6pm and evening show, kicking off at 7. More info here.

Meanwhile here’s our third trailer. One of Shruti to follow soon…

On the Road

Two weeks on and four shows in we’re well and truly now on tour, which in part explains our turn for the quiet on here. We’ve got several more shows this week kicking off with one at Free Word tomorrow, then in Brighton on Saturday and Manchester on Tuesday – so we’ll do a proper update with pictures and thoughts and stuff after that and before heading on to the rest – but meanwhile, here are a couple of trailers. More to follow from Shruti and I (Lydia that is.) It would be super unicorn cool to see you at one of this week’s show – come and say hello if you can make it. Thanks to filmmaker, Andrew Lee for these lovely things…

QUOTAS / LYDIA TOWSEY / #WhosYourNeighbour?

In response to the UN refugee agency’s recent suggestion that Britain will take a further 4,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East.

If you’d like to get involved, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to a responding work as text and/or as a recorded reading. For full details on the campaign see here.



If it is to be four thousand of the most deserving,
four thousand of the most deserving
of the four million currently displaced;
a thousand in a million
of the four million currently camping
in Jordan and in Lebanon –
so, one in a thousand;
one in a thousand
of the four million Syrians –
though not the Afghans or Iraqis
and not the Africans, none of them.
If it’s to be these and only them;
these most deserving of the all deserving
filling up the camps – though not the ones
drowning in the sea or suffocating in the trucks;
not the ones crushed on the railroads;
not those babies carried through the night
or held at the stations, dehydrated, close to death.
If just these few – how shall we pick?
Will it be this woman who has lost her home?
Or this man who has lost his legs?
This child orphaned and frightened?
Or this elder, sightless and bent?
If we are to choose,
and make of our fences
a new and sturdy pearly gate,
who shall stand watch
at our new beginning?
Who will be Peter
manning a cannon?
Who will record
the ones not taken?
The children washed up
on the beaches
with flotsam.
Who will record them
as undeserving?
Who will save us
when history


Lydia Towsey

Poems for People: an Anthology in Solidarity with Refugees

poets in solidary pic

Poems for People: an Anthology in Solidarity with Refugees


To publish and promote an anthology of poems to raise awareness of issues faced by refugees and show solidarity. Funds raised over and above the anthology’s costs will go to charities supporting refugees. The anthology will be produced by an experienced editorial committee, typesetter and Five Leaves Publications who will not charge for their time and will be available in print and as an ebook. Proceeds from sales will go to registered charities supporting refugees both in the East Midlands and abroad.


At the suggestion of Ambrose Musiyiwa, we plan an East Midlands anthology of a hundred poems and pieces of micro-fiction in solidarity with the refugees who are currently receiving so little welcome as they take to boats and rafts to cross the Mediterranean, make their way with difficulty through Europe and, in a small number of cases, arrive in Calais with the hope of reaching the U.K. The aim of the anthology is to enable readers to take a view of the situation which is not governed by the fear and hatred whipped up by the language of media and many politicians. The anthology will be produced by an editorial committee, typesetter and publisher who will work free of charge. The anthology will be published by Five Leaves Publications in Nottingham, and will be available both in print and as an ebook.

Submission Guidelines:

Please submit no more than three pieces of work. If you submit work which has previously been published, please give details of where it has appeared. The editors would particularly welcome writing which sheds a new light on the refugee experience in some way, writing which is specific rather than general, and writing which is not unremittingly gloomy, harrowing or preachy. We hope for a variety of work and an anthology which will interest, engage and surprise readers.

Poems should be no more than 42 lines (and much shorter work is welcome). Micro fictions should be no more than 100 words. All work should be single-spaced. Please include a biography of 50 – 100 words.

All submitted work should be in English. In the case of translated work, it is the translator’s responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright-holder of the original work.

Please send your submissions, preferably by email to poetsinsolidarity101@gmail.com by midnight on 28 September 2015. Send all material in a single word attachment AND in the body of the email. If you do not have access to email, you may submit by sending two copies of each piece of work by mail to: Poets in Solidarity with Refugees, 36 Leybury Way, Scraptoft, Leicestershire LE7 9UB. In either case, remember to include your contact details.


Poets in Solidarity with Refugees is a group of writers, artists and literature promoters mostly based in the East Midlands who want to share and welcome stories from refugees fleeing war-torn countries. Poems and fiction for the anthology will be selected by an experienced editorial panel and backed by a promotional campaign.

AS IT WAS, STILL IT IS / MELLOW BAKU / #WhosYourNeighbour?

Many thanks to Mellow Baku for this #WhosYourNeighbour, Three the Hard Way contribution.

Mellow wrote the below piece in response to a photograph of World War Two, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu servicemen, shared on an anti ‘Britain First’ facebook forum with the caption: ‘Bloody Sikh, Hindu, Muslim Servicemen, coming over here, flying our spitfires, winning our wars… [sic]’. The picture, and Mellow’s posted poem in response were both subsequently removed by facebook for contravening their ‘community standards’. We’re very pleased to share the poem part here.

If you’d like to get involved by contributing a piece, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to a responding work as text and/or as a recorded reading. For full details on the campaign see here.


As it was, still it is

Swarms of spongers
taking the piss?
While britain still plunders
As it was, it still is.

History forgotten
facts changed and normalised
In a land that is rotten
with blood of the colonised

For peace and wealth they come
For things the Empire took
from their foremothers and sons
(But you won’t read that in a book)

Sons of oppressors still complain
while enjoying what they can afford.
Beneficiaries of material gain
Spoils of making a mess abroad.

Swarms of spongers
taking the piss?
Sounds like the Empire
As it was, it still is.


Mellow Baku is a highly experienced singer-songwriter, jazz vocalist and vocal tutor, working across genres and performing internationally, including at: The Barbican and Southbank (London), The Knitting Factory (New York), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), BBC Live Events, Kings Place London & more. Jazz Saxophonist, Courtney Pine OBE hails her as ‘A new voice in British music, with an original blend of reggae soul and jazz. Superb voice, brilliant music, a must for all.’

Recent spoken word projects include touring alongside Zena Edwards, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze and SureShot (London Liming, Nottingham and Sheffield for TILT/Renaissance One/Melanie Abrahams, who also produced her recent show of spoken word and song ‘Music of My Mind’, Curve Theatre Leicester.)