Paula Varjack

Paula Varjack is a writer, filmmaker and theatre maker. Her work explores identity, the unsaid, and making the invisible visible. She makes work across disciplines: performance, theatre, documentary and spoken word. Her most recent show, Show Me The Money, explores the reality of making a living as an artist in the UK, based on interviews with artists across the country, and her new book is Letters I Never Sent to You (Burning Eye, 2016). Varjack is the creator of the Anti-Slam, a satirical take on poetry slams in which the lowest score wins. She also facilitates workshops, using writing prompts and drama games to unblock creativity. Born in Washington D.C. to a Ghanaian mother and a British father, of the many places she has lived she considers east London to be “home”.

Photo: Nikolas Louka


Poetry Café: Paula Varjack »

Spice up your lunch with poetry from Paula Varjack

Sat 4 March | 13:00 - 13:50 | £6.50/£5.00 | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Studio Theatre

The StAnza Slam »

With MC Paula Varjack

Sat 4 March | 22:15 - 23:55 | £4.00/£3.00 | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium


Not even worth stealing

In the insurrection
when teenagers took to the streets
stealing sportswear
hijacking HD TVs
cornering corner shops as they
filled their pockets with packages of cigarettes
and wine coolers
before the revolution was televised
news of it spread swiftly
through BlackBerry Messenger
long before those convicted
were imprisoned for stealing
bottles of water
In the insurrection
when teenagers took the streets and took over
when H&M towers toppled
thousands of pounds
of high street fashions
rapidly ripped down from their rails, 
amongst the mass of stolen
jeans and jewellery and perfume
and laptops and flatscreen TVs

in this abyss
of shattered glass and ash and smoke
every bookstore was…
If rioting is the voice of the unheard
I hear this message clearly…
in that moment when
you’re in mob mentality
long before later
(when you may think better of what you’ve done)
in that moment
when you can take,
when no one can stop you,
when you deserve to take yours,
when the bankers have been taking theirs, haven’t they?
and everyone’s in on it, aren’t they?
and the group is goading you on to
take take take
when you think
I can take anything
What do I want?

ranked up alongside
the sportswear and electronics a book
isn’t worth so much 
This isn’t a revolution;
this is consumerist warfare.
What am I talking about?
Why am I even questioning?
Who would ever steal…
a book?
A book!
It’s just paper, some ink.
Some words, some stories, some images,
some heart some sweat some nerves
What is a book worth, anyway?
You can’t quickly sell it
from the back of a car.
What’s a book when compared to
a track suit, an iPad, a laptop
In the insurrection, when teenagers took to the streets,
taking anything and everything they wanted,
not a single book was stolen.
All the books remained


Paula Varjack

From Letters I never sent to you (Burning Eye Books, 2016)