WONDERZOO'S ALL DAY MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS EVENT
@ A-TASHKINA [Union St] 12/10/19 Review by Pete Golding and live Recording by Hippie

It was Marcus Aurelius who said we exist for one another. This Saturday WonderZoo gathered at the exotic Portuguese restaurant, A-tashkina, to create a free all-day drop-in event to raise awareness of mental health issues that seem to dog so many of us. However what made this such a unique event was that WonderZoo sought to offer some solutions to some mental health conditions & if you read on, you'll see some listed. We have to give massive thanks to Pete DAVEY who seems never to stop making things happen in this city. Big thanks also to Gabi Marcellus-Temple, Jackie Wacha Helen Moore Donna Maughan & Sally Brær Taylor and the staff at A-Tashkina for arranging this great day as well as all the performers for contributing and HIPPY for doing the sound expertly.

Anairda Artivista played & sang seven scintillating songs usually [but not exclusively] with a graceful guitar accompaniment. Bilingual Adairda sings with power & passion, opening with Good Day moving onto Matarile & Canis Lupus before singing Martha Tilston's Good World. Adairda usually sings her own compositions like Stubborn Enough or El Trabajador but she concluded her magnificent set with Idle No More in the style of the Ulali or Native American, a capella style. A magnificent performance. ADAIRDA also spoke about & behalf of Feminist Fusion Feminist Fusion a community-arts project that runs primarily as a bi-monthly community event, showcasing the work of female artists in all disciplines (music, theatre, visual, poetry, etc.) while enabling public conversation (via speeches, discussions and games) to explore patriarchal oppression and feminism. After all, we exist for one another.

Ŧhom Boulton [Plymouth's Poet Laureate] read out ten poems from his latest collection, Prima Materia, as well as some, so recently completed, they remain untitled. TOM claims that writing poetry is therapeutic for his mental health and listening to it, feels sort of therapeutic, too. It is his gift to make art out of despair and depression but here was living proof it is possible, as poems like Dragonfly or Black Dragon or Venting demonstrate that mental anguish can be a source of inspiration and a catalyst toward change & growth. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us, TOM

Grunge Davey GRUNGE PETE began by speaking of some dreadful experiences he underwent as a youngster, before embarking on 10 compositions that he shared with everybody in the room. Some were tender pieces about [say] his Mum's passing but others bordered on PETE's signature raucous rants about pain, rejection, depression, war or wanton violence. Once again, a tour-de-force by Plymouth's leading performance poet.

Tam Martin Fowles appealed to those assembled for help and the need for volunteers to assist with delivering a Compassionate Plymouth [an organisation that seeks to unite disparate communities and individuals in these divisive times of turmoil] Check-out their website https://compassionateplymouth.com/ join or maybe just sign their charter to help put compassion at the beating heart of our city and our globe. We exist for each other don't we Plymouth?

TOMMY RAY ISAAC, a young student from the Red School for Creative Arts, bravely stepped up to the mike to read out a couple of his own compositions including an anti-war protest entitled War Cries. Everyone is welcome at WonderZoo, young or old, and I do hope that we get to see more of Tommy Ray Isaac in the future, as his prodigious talent blossoms and grow, he is welcome at WonderZoo.

Matt Thomas read just a couple of his own compositions including this haiku:
It's Thursday, Again. How Many Times, Is This Gonna Happen? Excellent. Spot on. If you get it, you get it. If you don't get it, you're lucky. MATT never fails to hit the spot.

Robin Oliver read two poems from the OUTCRY collection. The first was entitled Day-By-Day the second Emergence which concluded with these lines “ The way it is, isn't the way it has to be” How very poignant on a day like to today. ROBIN is a sensitive writer and poet and I commend ROBIN's collection OUTCRY to you, unreservedly.

Hel Bee. sat & spoke to us pianissimo on the several distressing mental health conditions that have and are still afflicting her. She proceeded to provide a backstory to some of the seven poems she recited including compulsive apologizing in Sorry, self-harming [Scar & Sharp Edges] imposter syndrome in Fake, school-bullying in Sticks & Stones and darkest depression in This Is Not A Suicide Note. She wears her heart on her sleeve and such honesty is disarming and inspiring.

We were lucky to have DANNY present and the opportunity for him to read out a couple of poems he happened to have handy on the topic of Insomnia and Acting Out. Thank you Danny. You added something special to our day. Insomnia is a distressing condition as you illustrated isn't it.

Jonathan Spurling [guitar & vocals] Sarah Adams [percussion] serenaded us with eight very different songs from the satirical OCD Blues to lost-love in Sunset In Your Eyes, from Bob Marley's Three Birds to Fred Neil's Everybody's Talking At Me, I Don't Hear A Word They're Saying. Lush. Together JONATHAN & SARAH are an expressive combination who engage, entertain and enthral. Terrific.

PETE “GRUNGE” DAVEY exploded and disrupted proceedings with his part-scripted and part-improvised invective Boogadesh & a Mystery. I confess I'm not sure what the former is and by definition the latter was [of course] mysterious but what was important was it provided a fitting crescendo to a compelling day-long exploration into the effects of mental & emotional distress.

That said WonderZoo arranged for a panel of experts to conclude the event who sought to offer some of the organisations, charities and counselling services available to those in distress in Plymouth & thereabouts. I assume we have PETE “Grunge” DAVEY to thank for this thoughtfulness. Excellent idea Well done Helen

The panel included HELEN MOORE Client Culture [chairing] Neil Pick [Devon Mind] Mansel Nott and HANNAH WILCOX [Kintsugi Project] Laura Happy-Everafter [Skoodhyans Trust] * NEIL PICK spoke about the Recovery College in Greenbank which offers courses, counselling, support groups & volunteering opportunities without a GP referral! If you're interested you can ring them 01752- 512298 or email admin@devonmind.com
MANSELL NOTT & Hannah Wilcox spoke about the Kintsugi Project which is aimed mainly at disability including mental health & aims to provide workshops, music studios, radio facilities and therapy rooms as well as offering the chance to do a spot of garden, should you feel so inclined. They are contact-able by emailing info@kintsugiporoject.org.
LAURA ASHENFORD was representing the Intercom Trust, a supportive LGBT+ organisation which offers counselling, courses information & support groups. Their confidential helpline is 0800-612- 3010 * LAURA also mentioned the launch of the Skoodhyans Trust, a charity that aims to support, counsel and therapy to vulnerable people in Plymouth. Check them out on Facebook .com /skoodyhanstrust.
HELEN MOORE spoke of the therapeutic value of gardening and the opportunities afforded by the St. Mathias Community Garden project to socialise, meet and rejoice in greening our urban spaces. HELEN contends gardening is absorbing, therapeutic and constructive. Check out at https://www.facebook.com/StMatthiasCommunityGarden

So last all big thanks to brave souls that read Today they were Hero’s PETE “GRUNGE” DAVEY - HEL B and TOM BOULTON [Plymouth's Poet Laureate] The Three Heroes of the day well Done .