Leah Thorn is a spoken word poet, activist and lecturer based in Folkestone, Kent. Her ‘Older Women Rock Festival,’  financed through crowdfunding platform indiegogo, kicks off on 18th February – 12th March.

HOW OLD ARE YOU?

67

WHERE DO YOU LIVE?

Folkestone, Kent

WHAT DO YOU DO?

At the moment I’m developing a project, ‘Older Women Rock!’.

I am a spoken word poet, activist and lecturer, published through performance, film, anthologies and magazines in England and the United States. At the heart of my poetry is the autobiographical exploration of identity and issues of liberation.

I collaborate with filmmakers to create poetryfilms. With Ewan Golder, I made ‘watch’, an award-winning film using Super 8 film, poetry, storytelling and photography to reveal the impact of dementia on a father/daughter relationship. I have made two poetryfilms with filmmaker Clare Unsworth, ‘count’ about everyday sexism and ‘shhh!’ about the systematic silencing of women. Both have been selected for screening at international feminist film festivals.

Much of my work is with women, including –
Folkestone WOW Festival, 2015 and 2016;
Residencies at Drayton Park Women’s Mental Health Crisis House, London 1996 to the present;
Women’s prisons including York Correctional Institution, USA; HMP Bronzefield; HMP Holloway; HMP Peterborough and HMP East Sutton Park.

I am an International Fellow at The England Centre for Practice Development at Canterbury Christ Church University and for the past ten years I have led poetry workshops in prisons nationally. In 2012 I was awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship, visiting women’s prisons across the United States with dance and theatre companies. In 2013 I received a Royal Society for Public Health Special Commendation Award for my contribution to Creative Arts and the Criminal Justice System.
To view my TEDxWomen talk about the use of poetry as provocation and witness with women  in prison visit
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yySZ3p4XnDY

To see examples of my performance and facilitation work, visit www.leahthorn.com

TELL US WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE YOUR AGE?

It’s wonderful, I have more influence in the world than ever before.

At the very same time it feels hard to be invisible and underestimated as an older woman.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HAVE AT 25?

A confidence in my own thinking and a wealth of diverse experiences

WHAT ABOUT SEX?

Not an important part of my life

AND RELATIONSHIPS?

I am in a committed 30-year relationship with a man who is very different to me in terms of race and class. I love the way we work together to sustain our connection

HOW FREE DO YOU FEEL?

In terms of how I live my life, I feel free to make decisions but I’m aware that it is impossible to be free in a society that values profit over people

WHAT ARE YOU PROUD OF?

One thing I’m proud of is how I had the idea for ‘Older Women Rock!’ and went on to make it happen – in a way that is a unique synthesis of all I know and all I do

WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED?

Acts of resistance and a refusal to be quiet and compliant, like the Women’s Marchesowr-1

WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?

When I’m dancing. Zumba Gold. Exploring places with my partner.

AND WHERE DOES YOUR CREATIVITY GO?

Into projects like ‘Older Women Rock!’, into making poetry, films, writing and performing poetry

WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING?

To live full-out and politically aware and engaged until the moment I’m no longer alive.

AND DYING?

Having seen my parents’ end-of-life, I decided to stay as emotionally and physically fit as possible. I use limited finances to enlist the support of a homeopath, osteopath and masseuse

ARE YOU STILL DREAMING?

Envisioning rather than dreaming, as for me the term dreaming doesn’t contain action and commitment to change.

WHAT WAS A RECENT OUTRAGEOUS ACTION OF YOURS?

Upcoming – a Zumba Gold flashmob outside Primark and Asda in Folkestone on 11 February. I’m enjoying gathering older women together and encouraging them to ‘strut their stuff’ in public!

Older Women Rock kicks off 18 February, 7.30 – 10pm at the Space Gallery, Folkstone. For more info, click

For more info, click here.