Event Review | Happy Mondays – Three the Hard Way: Part Two

Powerful poetry that demands to be heard, by three voices that could halt a tsunami…


Venue: Cognito, Loughborough Students’ Union.

When Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze MBE, Lydia Towsey, and Shruti Chauhan crossed pens to produce a show of poetry and performance, we were promised the voices of three women, spanning three generations, across three continents. What we actually got from Three the Hard Way: Part Two was so much more…

 ‘Three the Hard Way’ is a name derived from Jamaican DJ culture where male DJs would work together across the dance halls, clubs and stages of Jamaica, bouncing-off and responding to each other’s sets in collaboration and competition. The concept went on to be adopted by male dub poets in the UK, led by Linton Kwesi Johnson in the early 80s. On Monday 2nd December 2015, Three the Hard Way: Part Two revived this format and transported it to Cognitos at Loughborough Students’ Union.

The show was opened by poetry performances from Loughborough University students: Malika Singh and Ralph Woods. Themed around ‘home’, their poems poignantly set the tone for a show that would go on to use the poets’ feelings of dislocation and disorientation to explore the notion of ‘home’ in an ephemeral, rather than fixed and tangible sense.

For the performances, Jean Binta Breeze MBE, a Jamaican; Lydia Towsey of Hungarian and Welsh descent, and Shruti Chauhan of Gujarati origin, explored a broad range of topics – from ethnicity to war and poverty – to bring together a collection of work that was as lyrical as it was lurid in style. With the poets sporadically breaking into song throughout their performances, the hard-hitting topics explored, were often obfuscated, sentimentalized and softened by the musical segments of the show.

From unrequited love, to the recent refugee crisis, the three women successfully merged poetic tradition with contemporary culture, to bring to us a show that explores the complexities of life, as well as identity. Ultimately, Three the Hard Way: Part Two successfully managed to transcend the boundaries between generations, gender and geography to celebrate the unity of womanhood.


This article was written by The Student Wordsmith’s General Project Manager, Gita Sarasia. (c) The Student Wordsmith and Gita Sarasia 2015