Louise Goodfield has only been living in Tottenham a relatively short time, but already she has found connection and acceptance, as well as a community of creatives to pursue her poetry and performance. Rachel Ho chatted to Louise about finding her way to Tottenham.
Photo supplied: Louise Goodfield
Where did you grow up and what did your parents do?
I grew up in East Molesey in Surrey but moved to Suffolk when I was twelve with my Mum. My mum has been a full-time Carer for the elderly for about eight years now. My Dad used to be an Engineer, I never fully understood exactly what he did within that. I did not live with my Dad from the age of twelve and he passed away seven years ago.
Photo supplied: Louise Goodfield at one year old.
Describe your relationship to Tottenham.
I moved in with my partner in January 2018 and since moving here, for the first time in my life I have a safe space to grow roots and find a sense of myself and my surroundings. It feels very special because it is a community that has opened it's heart to me - especially since difficult childhood and life experiences have often left me living without a fixed abode, (I still struggle to say homeless).
With the lack of a stable 'family home' I became used to couch-surfing, being in-between places, even living above a boxing gym. I have never been sure where to place myself on official government forms, feeling painfully transient and ghost-like.
Over the years I have learnt to survive by telling myself a stable home, love and growing roots were 'not for me' and a by-product of being a 'struggling artist' but everybody deserves and needs a stable foundation in which to build on and thrive in. I've finally found that in Tottenham at the age of 28.
Photo Supplied: Louise's partner Simon who I live with and their pup called Chanel.
How did you get into poetry and theatre and what inspires you?
Creativity has always been my soul food. Stories have been such an important companion to me ever since I was young. I was bullied a lot throughout my schooling and at secondary school I met an incredible woman and Drama teacher called Miss Brown - she was my first mentor and advocate and she made me feel like I could do anything. She showed me that I has something of worth to give to myself and to others. It was then that I began purposefully pursuing a career in acting.
I am currently still performing and creating theatre with my theatre company, Say It Again, Sorry? (www.sayitagainsorry.co.uk) - we are just about to embark on a UK festival tour and our new interactive show The Importance of Being...Earnest? will be on at The Pleasance Theatre on 15th July.
Photo supplied: Lousie performing at Nozstock Festival 2018 with her interactive festival show, Easel Peasel. However, I feel that Poetry has marked a shift in my spiritual and creative journey and is taking me to unknown depths both within me and without. My gut instinct is telling my to keep travelling along this path as it has enabled me to deeply connect with such a myriad of different people.
This journey began in May 2018. I had been struggling with mental health issues for a while and it culminated in a difficult doctors appointment that left me feeling frustrated, lost and quite invisible. I arrived at a crossroads between creative expression or submitting to the increasingly debilitating panic attack that was closing in around me. I was struggling to see a way out but I chose to write.
In a moment of serendipity, a fairly new spoken-word night called 'What You Saying?' in Croydon popped up on my facebook, they had an open mic night on the theme of Mental Health.
Photo supplied: Lousie performing her poetry for the first time in May 2018 at 'What You Saying?'
I went up on stage, shaking like a leaf and performed my first ever poem titled Sick. The response I got was heartwarming and terrifying at the same time. The poetry community is SO supportive and little did i know that the need to release such pain and share my experiences after years of suppression would transport me onto an incredible discovery of poetry and of myself. Tell us about your poetry collective SPOKEN.
I first saw SPOKEN hosting a poetry night as part of 'Tottenham Creates' at The Cove on Markfield Road in 2018 and loved their energy and passion! I connected with Haylee Venus, the co-founder of Spoken immediately and had a strong sense that she was my kind of woman! I then began collaborating with SPOKEN on various projects such as the Newcastle / London Poetry Exchange where I shared my experiences of homelessness and 'The Great Fete' at Alexandra Palace.
I now help deliver their monthly Spoken-word events at The Cove, where the community can come together and discuss important issues and engage in freedom of expression. We host the night on the last Thursday of every month with featured artists and an open mic. More info can be found @spokengift1on Facebook and we are very keen to meet emerging poets and artists local to Tottenham!
Photo supplied: SPOKEN at The Cove, Markfield Road As a woman, how do you think Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?
Even living here for a year and a half which is very little time in comparison to some people - I have noticed a lot of development projects. I can see the high-rise apartment block being built near Seven Sisters outside of my living room window and it is a constant reminder for me to be as mindful as I can of my choices as an artist and consumer. It is important to stay open and supportive of those trying to make a living by serving the community in Tottenham. If I would like to see something change - it would be for us as a community to take better care of our streets and our environment. I have a dog and talking her for walks has made me very aware of how much litter and fly tipping issues we have here.
There is always a lot of glass and nitrogen canisters as well as discarded chicken bones on the floor, which are really dangerous to my little pup! Although, I have seen posters going up recently around Tottenham as part of the initiative called www.tidyuptottenham.org and I am planning to get involved with this initiative and help wherever I can!
Whenever I feel like I want to make a change but feel too small to make a difference or don't know where to start - I seek out a tribe of people that feel the same way and who may have found a path or system that works for them - a blueprint which I can learn from and follow. Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?
I'm a big nature fan and I love taking my dog for a walk to Downhills Park and grabbing an Americano from the wonderful ladies at Downhills Park Cafe (run by Neri Gun). They make my coffee just perfect every time and their breakfasts are amazing! I also like the sense of community and vibrancy in there. Neri has done a wonderful job staying true to Tottenham locals but providing an excellent and efficient service to encourage newer residents through her doors, for honest prices. I also love chatting to Tiberiu, who sells the Big Issue every morning at Seven Sisters station as I head to work. He always touches his hand to his heart when he sees me and he lights up my morning. We have gotten to know each other fairly well, even exchanging Birthday's! Please say a hello to him and buy his magazine, it would make such a difference to his day. Anything you would like to add?
I am so happy to announce I have just been awarded a Creative Practice Grant from Arts Council England to develop as a Poet, Creative Facilitator and Community Organiser. Over this next year I will develop my creative practice through mentorship from some wonderful poets based around the UK, training initiatives and community work here in Tottenham that will be supported through SPOKEN and The Selby Centre.
My aim is to set up Poetry in Performance workshops or creative 'drop ins' here in Tottenham that will be offered free of charge to residents of Haringey. The idea is to support early career poets or anyone who would like support in performing their poetry in the beginning stages. Not everyone has access to the performance training I have had but it's mainly about gaining confidence, believing that your words are valuable and that everyone deserves to speak their truth. I would like to help wherever I can - I know what it feels like to live in silence and sacrifice your own peace of mind for the sake of conformity. Any poets or creatives in London who would like to connect and chat over a coffee about this or anything related to the above - please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I would love to meet you!
Find out more about Louise and her work: