#FridayFeature – Troy Cabida Q&A

Troy Cabida (b. 1995) is a London-based Filipino poet and editor whose poems have appeared on Bukambibig, Cha and Eastlit. He is a Barbican Young Poet alumnus, an editor for The Murmur House and producer for open mic night Poetry and Shaah.

With his first ever headline show, “Overture: An Evening with Troy Cabida”, Troy has answered a few questions for The Student Wordsmith readers about his journey as a spoken word poet, his writing process, poetry inspirations and his headline show!


Firstly, introduce yourself and your work to our TSW readers!

Hi, TSW! My name is Troy Cabida, I am a poet, editor and producer. I was born in the Philippines, specifically in Cavite and then grew up in Manila before moving to the UK in 2007. I’m now a South West Londoner at heart but East has adopted me.

To give a short overview of my journey as a poet, I’ve had poems published in journals such as Bukambibig, Rambutan, Voice & Verse and The Ofi Press. I’ve done editing work for Siblíní Journal, The Murmur House and Thought Collection Publishing, as well.

I am an alumnus of the Barbican Young Poets, a program that enriches and widens the horizons of emerging poets in London under the guidance of Jacob Sam-La Rose. I like to call the community the poetry version of The Avengers (minus the finger snap). During the day I work as a library assistant for Wandsworth Libraries and at night I’m a producer for London open mic night Poetry and Shaah, a night that we’ve been running since April of 2017.


Q. When did you first realise you wanted to be a poet?

I first started writing poetry when I was fifteen when my GCSE English Literature class first taught us Carol Ann Duffy and Derek Walcott. From their poems I developed an interest in what I can do myself with the art form but before then I wrote a lot of prose. The less articulate version of the story is that while studying my GCSEs I thought I was experiencing my first ever heartbreak and ran to poetry for solace, which ended me up in a beautiful place, after all.


Q. What attracted you towards poetry, particularly spoken poetry?

You get to say so much with poetry without having to use a lot of space or words, and there’s so much you can express even if you’re not so direct. Through poetry I’m constantly learning a lot about the world, the many layers that consist within yourself and the people around you and the way the brain and the heart functions and how they affect everyday life.

I first started performing at an open mic night in Shoreditch called BoxedIn in late 2016 and I came in knowing absolutely nothing. My friend and now founder of Poetry and Shaah Neimo Askar took me there and read my first poem and thought that was quite interesting and something I’d like to work on. Shout outs to Yomi Sode, Sean Mahoney and Amina Jama!


Q. In what ways do you think prose and poetry differ from (or are similar to) each other?

I think both prose and poetry can have such a strong emotional grasp on the reader when done correctly. Editing has taught me that there’s no such thing as a bad story but there is bad writing, unfortunately. You need to know whether the piece of writing you’re creating will deliver better either as a poem or as prose because both have pros and cons that are exclusive only to that genre and I think it’s important to be familiar and respectful of them.


Q. And how does performance influence this?

Performing has been very helpful when it comes to editing the poem. There’s something very useful about getting to hear your work come out of your mouth and into an audience. The sensation of chewing your poem and seeing how that feels gives you an indication of where you need to take it afterwards.


Photo Credit: Camilla Greenwell, Barbican 2018


Q. How would you describe your writing process?

I find it so funny that I write my best in the least convenient of situations, like when I’ve got about five minutes before I have to leave the house for work, if I’m suffering a hangover and have to be doing a lot of chores or something like that.

Through BYP I’ve learnt how to free-write and to basically write everything that’s on my mind within a time frame and treat that chunk of writing as if it were a piece of clay, and then from there find the poem by cutting and putting words and lines together and apart until you have a semblance of a poem. I find making a mess and then cleaning it all up and leaving the most useful parts of that mess the best process for me right now.


Q. Do you find yourself writing about particular themes, ideas, thoughts?

I often write about the people in my life and their effect on me. I like to write about London and how it tries to kill me every day. I try to tackle the political side of being Filipino in London and how society treats and views us as members of its world because there’s so much to uncover and unfortunately, a lot that we need to acknowledge, accept and work with as Filipinos.


Q. Who are some of your favourite poets?

I’m a big Ocean Vuong fan. I find inspiration from Terrence Hayes, Warsan Shire, Romalyn Ante, R.A. Villanueva, Toby Campion and Neimo Askar. Almost every single member of the Barbican Young Poets but mostly Ruth Sutoyé, Amina Jama, Jeremiah Brown, Malakaï Sargeant, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Kareem Parkins Brown, Omar Bynon and Laurie Ogden to name a few.

Marilyn Monroe wrote poetry in private throughout her life and was published posthumously in 2012 titled Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters. I admire her ability to translate her emotions, her doubts and sensuality onto the page. Her third husband Arthur Miller said that she had authenticity but not the discipline and honestly, technique is something that can be learnt, but the emotional intelligence that she had is something that only she had and that’s beautiful.


Q. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading a few things right now. The Girl: Marilyn Monroe and the Unlikely Feminist by Michelle Morgan, the first Scarlet Witch graphic novel (her MCU counterpart really got me hooked) and Andrew McMillan’s second collection Playtime.


Q. Finally, tell us about “Overture: An Evening with Troy Cabida”!

Overture: An Evening with Troy Cabida is my first ever headline show which serves to introduce myself to the world as a poet, performer and producer. It will be held at DIY Space for London on Saturday, the 11th of August 2018 from 7pm and is produced and hosted by Ruth Sutoyé.

I’ll be reading poems I’ve written on love, friendship, masculinity, poems that I’ve written under the Barbican Young Poets, poems from those I really admire and have drawn influence from and I’ll also do a few to the beat of Gabriel Jones’ music aka Bump Kin which should be tons of fun. All the while I’ll be talking through my journey as a poet, a person and where I’ll take this journey onto next. My supporting acts are Amina Jama, Malakaï Sargeant and Neimo Askar and from what I’ve been hearing, they all have something unique to offer so I can’t wait for that.

Tickets are available for you on the link above for £10 and at the door for £12. See you then!

You can find out more about Troy and his work on his Facebook, Twitter (@troycabida), Instagram (@troycabida) and website! Plus, if you just can’t wait until the 11th, check out two of his poetry readings here: Angels and Sadistic!