Too Young Too Loud Too Different
edited by Maisie Lawrence and Rishi Dastidar
Few collectives have had a profound impact on the contemporary poetry landscape in recent years than Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. And this anthology, edited by members Maisie Lawrence and Rishi Dastidar, is a testament to the enduring ethos of craft, community and care that sits at the kitchen table. Too Young Too Loud Too Different marks the 20th anniversary of ‘Kitchen’ and arrives as an acknowledgment of all the writers who have been a part of this innovative and evolving collective and a statement of intent going forward. It’s an anthology that lives up to its title, showcasing the multiplicity of the human experience and celebrating the diverse range of people who have found themselves, literally or digitally, in Malika Booker’s kitchen. For those who have a keen interest in the recent history of poetry in London and beyond then look no further than Daniel Kramb’s introduction, which documents some of the most seminal moments in poetry through the lens of Kitchen. Roger Robinson’s T.S. Elliot Prize win, Spread the Word, Apples and Snakes, The Complete Works program, Barbican Young Poets- there is one thing that connects them all. Kitchen.
Suffice to say, credit to Malika Booker, Roger Robinson, Peter Kahn and Jill Abram is long overdue and the poems in Too Loud Too Young Too Different recognise every writer who has found community in Kitchen. In the anthology, poems reach back in time, live in the margins, they showcase new forms and subvert long established ones. Nothing is off the table. The anthology is a free space where language is used to trace lineage, to claim space, to mourn, to give hope, to break free from verse and to play in its own revelry. The range of voice is what is most striking about this anthology- there is irony and sarcasm, meta commentary, earnest reflection, contemplation, whimsy; you may find yourself crying on one page and laughing in hysterics on the next. For a collective, there are no two poets that sound alike. Every poem has its own unique identity, carved from its own point of view and worked on meticulously. If there is anything that unites them, it is a respect for craft and a desire to give voice to people, ideas and conversations that have been otherwise ignored or suppressed. There is no specific order to the work, it is simply laid out in alphabetical order of the author’s names with no privilege or favouritism afforded to the more notable members. This is the spirit of Kitchen.
The anthology, and Kitchen in general, is a reminder of the power of community work and collectivised collaboration. This is a collective that prides itself on its ethos of ‘give and take’ and one that is surely an exemplary case of what writers can achieve when they have the space and time to develop their craft in a dedicated environment. Too Young Too Loud Too Different is the culmination of a lot of hard work, a tangible marker of a quiet revolution in the London poetry world. Now is the time to enjoy. Reminisce. This is the celebration. The Victory Lap.
Link to the website can be found here: https://malikaspoetrykitchen.com
Fahad Al-Amoudi is the outgoing editing intern for Ink Sweat & Tears and a proud member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen.