For WOWfest’s 2018 finale, Shelique Braithwaite takes in Potent Whisper at Constellations, and sees the themes of this year’s festival come together. 

A diverse crowd gathered at Constellations last week to celebrate the finale of WOWfest 2018.

WoWfest is Liverpool’s longest running literary/writing festival.

Beginning in 2000 as a weekend programme, it is now a month-long extravaganza of radical literature, debate, performance, activism and creative writing, running each May in venues across the city.

This year’s theme was Crossing Boarders, a timely response to recent national and international political, social and cultural developments around various issues to which we can all relate. Throughout the month, the events staged shared these experiences and sent messages of hope, inclusion and togetherness.

There was a plethora of incredible moments throughout the festival, not least Jordan Stephens of Rizzle Kicks and Wildhood discussing mental health with comedian Robert Webb, an inspiring one man show at the Philharmonic Hall from legendary poet Benjamin Zephaniah and Lily Allen heading up a panel discussing the fall-out from the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.

The Grenfell fall-out seems to have been a bit of a running theme. The aftermath of the fire itself has raised social political concerns, including issues of class and race, seeing as Grenfell itself was situated in an ethnically diverse area with many families from Moroccan and Somali backgrounds.

This thread ran through to the finale, with headliner Potent Whisper, a London based rapper, Spoken Word artist and community organiser. His Grenfell Britain video has been viewed over 400,000 times and been referenced twice in parliament as “Gut wrenching prose”.

Potent Whisper was supported by WoW’s very own incredible Spoken Word artists and Poets; Ciarán Hodgers, Alice Mason and Addae G who all delivered amazing pieces.

Potent Whisper covered a wide range of issues surrounding; politics and corruption, gentrification, the abuse of power, Grenfell, the National Health Service and the power of art with his articulate, hard-hitting performances of Estate of War, The Rhyming Guide To NHS Privatisation, Our Brixton and the aforementioned Grenfell Britain, he had the entire room encapsulated by his words.

Using various tones and techniques in his delivery he really got his point across. Raising awareness on current affairs and conveying issues in a lucid and digestible form.

I had the pleasure of meeting Potent Whisper after his performance, sitting down for a couple of drinks and a chat – such a smart, humble guy.

After the performance, we were treated to Stuart Borthwick on the decks setting the tone for the evening, and some refreshing funk, afrobeat and disco from SiSBis.

An overall successful evening and a fantastic way to finish off WOWfest 2018.