Thank you for supporting our Insta sessions

Last night, I was joined by Jonathan Kinsman for the 50th and final Insta session. It still hasn’t properly sunk in that there won’t be any more. And as I’ve said a few times, these sessions have been a real crutch for me since the pandemic struck.

Like most people, I disappeared into a bit of a shell when Lockdown 1.0 was first announced towards the end of March 2020. I wasn’t sure how to respond as a human being, let alone as a record label boss. But during April, I decided that we’d combine our first-ever virtual event with the label’s 5th birthday – seeing all of the acts performing on the same bill for the very first time.

The event took place on 29 April, which was supposed to be the date of our LIVEwire Colchester event. It felt so good that I decided to start a regular event off the back of it, and dreamt up the format for relaxed 30-minute weekly ‘Insta sessions’. I approached Nafeesa Hamid to do the first session, she agreed, and we were off.

Our 50 Insta sessions from May 2020 – July 2021

One immediate and obvious benefit was the removal of geographical barriers. From a one-bed flat in London, I was chatting to poets in Birmingham, Glasgow, and Bristol. By the summer, that’d become international, when Joshua Idehen joined from Sweden.

In the end, I managed to feature guests from Nigeria, Pakistan, Germany and Palestine as well as all corners of the UK. I’m immensely humbled that these 50 diverse and exciting poets were all willing to give up their time and do a session. It goes against my nature to ask people to perform for free, but everybody was really supportive and happy to be involved.

From both a poetic perspective and a mental wellbeing perspective, these sessions have been invaluable to me. I’m incredibly privileged to have experienced them so directly and to have had these conversations (sort of) face-to-face. It’s taught me a lot, opened up a shit-tonne of doors, and will hopefully lead to a couple of real-life friendships down the line.

Insta sessions #50: Jonathan Kinsman

I don’t think anybody will ever argue that virtual events are as good as in-person events. But I do think there’s a place for them on the poetry scene. And something about the one-on-one Instagram format feels a lot more engaging to me than a Zoom gig, for example.

Anyway, this ended-up being a fairly mammoth project entirely by accident. And when I look back on the clusterfuck that is COVID-19, these Insta sessions will be a defining memory. I want to say a special thanks to Louise Fazackerley and Toria Garbutt for hosting a couple of sessions when I was unable to – they were absolutely brilliant every time.

48 out of the 50 sessions are available to stream back in full on our IGTV, YouTube and Facebook channels. Every now and again, the signal might drop in and out, but in general, they’re all good quality. Also, there are easily another 50 poets that I would have loved to have featured, and for whatever reason, it just didn’t fall into place…so, if you’re a poet reading this and you’re secretly miffed that I didn’t invite you to do a session…sorry!

Thank you to all of my guests, to Louise and Toria, to everybody who watched, everybody who commented, everybody who shared, and everybody who messaged me to tell me how much they were enjoying them. And also, thank you to my wife Maria, for accommodating me doing most of the 50…Tuesday nights won’t quite feel the same for a while…

That’s all for now. Take care, stay safe, and we’ll see you on the other side (hopefully).

Matt x

The 50 Insta sessions guests

  1. Nafeesa Hamid
  2. The Repeat Beat Poet
  3. Iona Lee
  4. Stephen Lightbown
  5. Kamil Mahmood
  6. Emily Harrison
  7. Saili Katebe
  8. Genevieve Carver
  9. Casey Bailey
  10. Camille McCawley
  11. Victoria McNulty
  12. Mary Dickins
  13. Sharena Lee Satti
  14. Joshua Idehen
  15. Jasmine Gardosi
  16. Louise Fazackerley
  17. Madelaine Kinsella
  18. Carla Mellor
  19. Rick Dove
  20. Riwa Saab
  21. Gabriel Àkámọ́
  22. Chris Redmond
  23. Elise Hadgraft
  24. Antonia Jade King
  25. Hannah Hodgson
  26. Ella Dorman-Gajic
  27. Nabeela Ahmed
  28. James McDermott
  29. Luke Wright
  30. Maria Ferguson
  31. Iftikhar Latif
  32. Rushika Wick
  33. Haris Ahmed
  34. Sophie Sparham
  35. Jamie Thrasivoulou
  36. Tobi Abiodun
  37. Leilah Jane King
  38. Mariam Saaed Khan
  39. Charlotte Lunn
  40. Penny Pepper
  41. Liam Xavier
  42. Cat Hepburn
  43. Patrizia Longhitano
  44. Otis Mensah
  45. Roy
  46. Joe Williams
  47. Romina Ramos
  48. Rory Aaron
  49. Mohammed Moussa
  50. Jonathan Kinsman