Lisa Parhad talks poetry and the Huddersfield underground arts scene with Chris Arden.
Huddersfield may seem an unlikely refuge for poets, but that misconception is exactly what Lisa Parhad is trying to challenge.
Over the past couple of years, a burgeoning arts scene has emerged in the West Yorkshire town, including up-and-coming musicians and visual artists.
Parhad, a former Rastrick High School pupil, left her home town to continue her studies at the University of Leicester, but the 21-year-old was recently drawn back to Huddersfield.
“It is really exciting at the minute, Huddersfield has its own identity that I’ve never seen anywhere else,” she says. It is against this backdrop that Parhad had the idea for her latest project, HOWL.
Essentially an open-mic night for experienced poetry readers and novices alike, the event will also feature collaborations with visual artists and musicians.
“I want to prove that poetry isn’t just for academics, it’s cool. Poetry can be inspirational and funny,” says Parhad. The poetry slams welcome all performers, whether they are hip-hop lyricists or writers of prose. Parhad first discovered poetry as a child, writing down the thoughts she felt unable to share with her friends and family.
A firm believer in the cathartic powers of poetry, she’s now determined to bring verse to a much wider audience.
Her recently published selection of poems, entitled Down the Rabbit Hole and written under the pseudonym Luxx, shows her personal struggle with her adolescent and university years. “You can become drunk on freedom and lose control,” she says. “The collection largely deals with those feelings that bubble inside a destructive teenage mind – the feeling that your soul is trapped.”
Having discovered poetry as a means of tackling her own emotions, she now hopes to encourage others to do the same.
“Poetry isn’t just about rhyming couplets, it’s about making one’s internal thoughts become external. I suppose people could sit in their bedrooms and scribble down some words, but poetry should be spoken.
“We’ve had some really positive feedback in the past; people have even thanked me for the experience.”
Parhad is also creating a complementing magazine to the HOWL project; one that she does not want to promote by social media. For Parhad, the magazine is at least in part about taking a stand against the digital age. After covering the last issue with suede material, she says: “I want the magazine to be something you can touch. You’ll be able to feel it, like the poetry.”
HOWL: Poetry open-mic night
As well as poetry performance, HOWL will feature an exhibition by Sam Jones, a graduate of the University of Huddersfield and an acoustic set by Steve Ward, from Leeds-based band Tag-Team Preacher.
Howel, The Bluerooms, Byram Arcade, Huddersfield, February 4, £2 or free for performers. 8pm-11pm.