The Ripple Effect: Introducing Issa Loyaan Farrah-Kelly

The Ripple Effect: The Third Orchestra is presented by Turner Sims in association with Orchestras Live.  This pioneering project sees three Southampton music creatives join co-composition and writing days in London and Southampton under the guidance of the director of the orchestra, composer and music leader, Peter Wiegold. The Ripple Effect will draw on their heritage, tradition and identity to generate experimental new works to be shared with audiences in Turner Sims’ award-winning performance space.

Following their successful applications, we introduce the three Southampton artists to become part of The Ripple Effect. Meet poet Issa Loyaan Farrah-Kelly.

© Keeley Dickinson

Working with The Third Orchestra attracted me because…philosophically, and artistically…their ethos and output resonates deeply.

‘In the grand scheme of things, words are ultimately inadequate to describe… at best they are a signpost or symbol, at worst they confuse and make complex what can be made simple.

Ironic or funny as it may seem for a poet to say this, I am a poet and I do say this…but I do try to describe what I feel and think merits attention.

My name is Issa Loyaan Farrah-Kelly, I’m a poet, born and raised in St Mary’s, Southampton, now living in Winchester, with a bit of life in London in-between.

I have been trying to describe, more or less since I could first read, speak and write…following my birth in 1987. I am 35 y/o and I have been on the Southampton poetry scene since 2012, following a break from gig-land…I got back on the scene in 2016 and since then I have:

  • Performed at various festivals, including Bestival, How the Light Gets In, Common People, One Love and Wilkeswood Reggae Festival, as a solo poet and with affiliations such as The People’s Front Room, The Uplifter, and Sombrero Fallout
  • Received commissions, including for the British Art Show 8, and most recently for the Southampton 2025 City of Culture bid and City of Culture Legacy Trust.
  • Started, and run, 3 poetry open mics – Write a Note (Southampton) 2016-2018, Words at Whiskey (Southampton) 2022- and Mo’s Forte (Winchester) 2023-
  • Worked/working as a creative mentor in various contexts
  • Appeared/featured on various media, such as ITV, BBCs One, Solent, Radio 4
  • I host, periodically, extended radio shows on Riverside Radio (London)

My work has been described as psychedelic / percussive / mantric / beat – which I quite like, and I think is fair – basically, most of my poems can be put to a beat quite easily, and my favourite way, by far, to work is with musicians.’

© Joanna Ross

Why did you apply to be a part of The Ripple Effect?

The Ripple Effect attracted me because my favourite way to work is with musicians. Working with The Third Orchestra attracted me because…philosophically, and artistically…their ethos and output resonates deeply.

For sake of argument/ease of description, I am Black British (IC3), of African (Somalian) and English blood, with Black-American blood and Irish connections…hence ‘Kelly’

I have often questioned ‘Who Am I?’, in the context of my various lineages and experiences. I now consider myself from Earth.

I think The Third Orchestra is on board with the idea that ‘I am of Earth, have ties to specific places…but am ultimately of Earth’

What are you hoping to get out of the project?

It is my quiet hope to gain some nice experience of working with nice artistic peers, of disciplines different to my own. Along the way, I would like to increase my understanding of music/music theory, because whilst I am a muso, I am not a musician, and I admire musicians for their ability to ‘speak another language’.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to the process of working, without pre-script/from a blank canvas, alongside peers.

The Ripple Effect: Introducing Anna Durance

The Ripple Effect: Introducing Matt Brombley

Find out more about The Third Orchestra performance at Turner Sims on Thursday 30 March

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