Jun Tzu: from East Belfast to Ardoyne (stopping at Bangor and Ards)

Last week I had the great pleasure of setting up poetry and rap workshops with various youth groups and schools for ‘Norn Irish’ rapper, Jun Tzu.  It was a very busy couple of days, but he delighted his old fans and made many new ones.  Watching the young people walk out of the workshops with big smiles on their faces and free signed cds in their pockets was a sight to behold.  Many thanks to Jun Tzu for taking the time out and traveling over from Manchester to do this work.  Below are some of the highlights of the two days:

Tuesday:

Firstly, we met a group from Dundonald High School at the Skainos Centre on the Newtownards Road, organised through Charter NI (see below).  Big thanks to David and Caroline from Charter NI for organising and to the headmaster of Dundonald HS for bringing the pupils out of school at the beginning of term.  During the workshop Jun asked the group to write down everything they associated with their school.  They then wrote their own individual poems about the school and read them aloud to each other.  After this each participant took a line from their own poem and composed a collective poem about their school based on the ‘Save Dundonald High School’ campaign.

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On Tuesday evening we visited North Down Community Assistance in Newtownards.  It was a brilliant evening with some of the local teenagers from the Bowtown estate.  Thanks to Laura and Walter for hosting and organising the group.  Jun Tzu performed some of his own poems and then got the young people to write and perform their own.  Below are two shots of the workshop:

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Wednesday:

On Wednesday morning we visited Holy Cross Boys Primary School in Ardoyne.  While there Jun Tzu performed a rap to the senior classes in the school (see below) and afterwards held a question and answer session with the boys.  The best question of the morning was, ‘Do rappers get taxis or buses?’ The answer, of course (as everyone knows), is buses.  Thanks to the staff of Holy Cross Boys’, especially the headmaster, for making us so welcome.

Later in the afternoon, we visited Bangor Alternatives in Kilcooley.  Thanks to Jim, Jim and Ruth for hosting there.  A special mention must go to Dylan – aka Yland – a 13 yr old rapper who Jun Tzu told was better than he was when he was 13.  Dylan is definitely one to watch for the future!  Below are a couple of photos of some of the particpants with their signed cds and the workshop:

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After the workshop Jun Tzu did a gig in Kilcooley Community Centre for the local community.  Despite some dodgy acoustics he pulled through and put on a great show for his young fans (and a few older ones too).  Thanks to all who helped organise, publicise, and lend equipment to make it happen.

Not finished yet, Jun Tzu then went and performed a gig in the Menagerie which went on late into the night.  Below is a clip from ‘Wee Johnny’, one of the stand out tracks of the night and a firm fans’ favourite (as you will see from the singing along).

A huge thanks to Jun Tzu for all the hard work he put in and to all the individuals and organisations who worked together to make the trip such a success.  A final thank you to Chris Eva for videoing the workshops and for Darren Anderson for taking photographs.

For anyone who still wants more, there is an article about Jun Tzu and a video of him performing on the Newtownabbey Times website here.

Jun Tzu’s album ‘The Troubles’ will be out later this year – in the meantime you can check out his music on Youtube.

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