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Stars of spoken word coming to ICC

Clondalkin poet Natalya O’Flaherty has performed her spoken word at The National Concert Hall, festivals such as Electric Picnic and The Late Late Show more than once captivating audiences with her hypnotising brand of spoken word.

Natalya has also spoken about issues affecting women in Ireland and next week Natalya comes to the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith when she will take part in their International Women’s Day event.

Next Tuesday Natalya will share the stage with her fellow poet Sasha Terfous.

They will be joined by singer- songwriter and vocal artist Ruby Kearney and singer- songwriter Jeanette Murphy.

The evening will be MC’d by actress Veronica Quilligan.

Natalya told The Irish World: “I’m so excited. I haven’t been to the UK since 2019 before all the madness so I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s a great event or day to be a part of.

“It’s always good to do a gig on International Women’s Day because everyone genuinely believes in what you believe in and cares about what you care about in terms of women and equality and their rights.

“It’s always a really positive day.

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“The best thing about it is just sharing the stage with only women.

“Obviously, I’ve shared the stage with so many people and so many men and women, but there’s just something special about when it’s a group of women together.

“It’s just so wholesome and positive and such a great thing to see.

“I’m sure it’s great for girls and young women as well, to see an all- female line up.

“There is something special about it”

This will be Natalya’s first time on a plane in three years but she has played to London audiences before when she came to the London Irish Centre in Camden to take part in their St. Brigid’s celebrations.

After some lean years due to the pandemic, Natalya has only recently been able to perform again.

“It’s been hard because a lot of a lot of my writing I would do after being social, it’s about people I meet and situations I would have been in.

“And honestly, I don’t think I’ve been in a situation of any kind the last two years, it was hard to be writing.

“In terms of not gigging, I kind of got used to that to the point where when I- eventually just recently- got back in the last few months, it was weird to be on stage and to do a gig after being so comfortable.

“It takes a lot out of you. It takes a lot out of you not performing and then getting back into it was just as draining, but I think I’m ready to go now again, I’m back in the swing of things.

“I wouldn’t do a Covid poem but it’s affected everyone’s lives massively for the last two years and probably will for years to come.

“I can’t say it didn’t affect me. Of course, it did. It affected everybody.

“It already has affected my writing.

“I’m working in a cafe and yesterday was our first day of no mandatory masks.

“I finally saw all these people that I have been serving for the last year, I’ve seen all their faces.

“I don’t think we’re out of the woods in terms of Covid but in terms of just being social and connecting with people again, I feel like we’re getting back to how it was.

“And I think it might even be better.

“It’s made us think more about other people. Or at least I hope it has.”

Having found her voice through poetry, Natalya O’Flaherty has expressed hard hitting criticisms of modern Ireland.

She has also addressed issues facing women in Ireland and the destruction of culture in her native Dublin.

“Someone said once, ‘You said something that I could never put into words, and now I have the words for it’.

“That just meant so much to me.

“I only ever write for myself.

“I don’t really kind of think of who is going to hear it after the fact or what impact it might have on the wider world.

“It’s just for me, and how I feel.

“And it’s all very personal and vulnerable. To be vulnerable like that, especially on national television or even at a gig in front of however many people.

“But when you get a message like that, and it’s just someone relating so strongly.

“What you think is a unique experience is actually shared by way more people than you could ever believe.

“It’s really nice to connect across all kinds of borders and barriers.

“That’s kind of the best part about it, is just knowing someone, even if it’s just one person, took something from it and they had an original thought about it.

“That’s so cool. To me, it’s crazy I can do that.”

Ryan Tubridy has described one of Natalya’s poems as “a manifesto for a generation of young women”.

“I write for myself.

“Definitely it reaches people in a way that I could never imagine or intend.

“I never write with, ‘Oh, they’re gonna love this…

“It doesn’t come into my head.

“Even when I write a new poem and I choose to perform it in front of people, it’s like I’m showing them my diary.

“But at the same time, it’s everyone’s.

“Everyone’s on the same page, especially when I’m talking about the wider topics of Dublin-based issues or Ireland-based issues, of women.

“It’s obviously not me on my own.

“It’s nice to get that back and to feel that reflected back on you, that you’re not the only one the world who is so angry or even so happy about something.

“It’s nice to see, it’s nice to feel that.”

In 2018, Natalya’s piece Not Like Other Girls was commissioned as part of The Big Picture: A Woman’s World.

She would go on to perform it on The Late Late Show when she stunned the nation with its astute, worldly and searing view of life as a woman in Ireland in modern times.

“It kind of came out nowhere. I wasn’t expecting it.

“Obviously, everyone watches the Late Late.

“I had been doing gigs and after a gig, people come up to talk to you but this was like en mass, dozens of people getting on to me. It was crazy.

Sasha Terfous.

“I felt like a celebrity for about two weeks and then I just went back to work, doing my normal thing, but it was great. It was really fun.”

She has since gone onto appear on the show two further times.

“There’s kind of a joke among my friends: ‘Who’s on the Late Late this week? Ah, they’ll probably have Natalya on again..’

“Or, ‘They’ll probably have her up if no one shows up’. It’s a running joke.”

On Tuesday, Natalya will be joined by Sasha Terfous, Ruby Kearney and Jeanette Murphy.

Recently announced as the Poet Laureate for Co. Wexford, Sasha Terfous is also one of the most important figures in Ireland’s spoken word community.

Ruby Kearney is an East London born and bred visual and vocal artist, writer and performer.

Of Nigerian-Irish heritage, singer- songwriter Jeanette Murphy’s style combines jazz, folk, blues and Irish.

Veronica Quilligan, MC for the evening, made her acting debut at the Royal Court Theatre in Edna O’Brien’s A Pagan Place.

She has since worked at the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Abbey Theatre and with many repertory theatres across the UK.

International Women’s Day at the Irish Cultural Centre takes place Tuesday 8 March from 7pm. 

For  more information and to book, click here.

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