Kass Man: musical poet & event organiser

Estimated reading time:8 minutes, 26 seconds

Everyone has a story. On Saturday 24 September you are invited to join a fundraising event to assist with raising funds for Da Global Link Up host, Kass Man, so he can have revolutionary stem cell therapy that could help improve his health. Interview by Nicola Baird

Kass Man - poet, performer and sober raver - needs fundraising help for stem cell therapy so he's organising an Open Mic event in September. (c) Islington Faces

Kass Man – poet, performer and sober raver – needs fundraising help for revoloutionary stem cell therapy so he’s organising an Open Mic event in September. And you’re invited! (c) Islington Faces

Kass Man is an Islington-based performer and event organiser with a passion for positivity raving. At weekends likes to go sober raveing,  enjoying listening to house music at clubs where alcohol isn’t served.

“Last month I went to three raves in one day – I enjoy it because the music is bumping, I experience genuine love and I drink a lot of water and cacao (raw chocolate) to keep going,” says Kass. He especially likes Morning Gloryville which runs on Saturday and Wednesday mornings (9.30am-1.30pm) with a no-alcohol or drugs policy for the raves at the Oval Space in Hackney and Portobello Road in west London.

Recently Kass performed at one of the raves – in a Michael Jackson outfit and wig, surrounded by fellow sober ravers.

Harvist Estate (c) Islington Faces

Harvist Estate was built in 1967 (c) Islington Faces

Early life
Kass, 30, was born at the Whittington Hospital and grew up on the Harvist Estate where his mum and dad still live. He went to Grafton Primary School, George Orwell (now IAMs) and then Robert Blair pupil referral unit, followed by three years at a Somerset boarding school. He went on to take A levels at City & Islington College and followed this up by studying psychologyat South Bank University, and then studied digital media and creative writing at London Metropolitan University until “I found that I’m much better at doing what I’m doing without a diploma.”

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Kass has multiple sclerosis (MS), which affects 100,000 people in the UK. His left side has become so weak that he now has to use a wheelchair or an electric mobility scooter. It’s the scooter he’s used to meet Islington Faces at Costa Coffee near Holloway tube (top speed 8mph) to talk about his fundraising bid over a honey-sweetened mint tea with three ice cubes. https://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms

“I’m fundraising to have revolutionary stem cell therapy. The main centre is Switzerland but there is also an in-patient clinic in Serbia. I’ve raised £3,500 (4000 euros) but I need £19,000 (25,000 euros) by my appointment date in November,” says Kass who is hoping to travel with his sister, Selwa, and good friend Sharmin. “Sharmin has been supporting me for a number of years – I really appreciate her efforts.”

Kass’ fundraising story is on video here

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One of London Metropolitan University buildings along Holloway Road. (c) Islington Faces

One of London Metropolitan University buildings along Holloway Road. (c) Islington Faces

4 places Kass Man likes in Islington

  • Islington’s my home! I used to like going down Seven Sisters Road, on the Holloway Side a lot. I used to go to the barbers there. Last Friday I went all round Highbury to find an accessible barbers’ shop. The problems are narrow doors and steps as I can’t get in. The search for accessibility continues.
  • I started a creative writing and English Literature course at London Metropolitan University and I still like going to the university library. It sometimes feels like a home away from home. Places to relax, go sleep, watch videos on YouTube and charge my phone!
  • I love being at home because I’ve started building a studio with posters of flyers of all my shows. I live on my own and love my independence.”
  • On a bus a wheelchair is sectioned into a designated area – but I’m a free spirit and I like to be free so I enjoy watching the journey from the window of the bus.

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As well as hosting at the 24 November fundraiser, Kass looks set to perform his brilliant poem, Falling.

FALLING
(falls)
Fuck
Here I am again
And my focus is on getting up
Because when I’m on the floor
All I’m thinking is “what the fuck”
“Why am I on the floor?”
“Why is my body feeling sore?”
Why is it that when I’m down
Getting up feels like a chore?
It’s all inside my mind is what I want to tell myself
But when I look round myself I see myself in
“Fucking hell”
So I go to breathe out
As well as calm myself down
It’s better when I’ve calmed down
Because then I can turn it around
And when I say it
I’m talking about the situation
Because I know that I’m tired of feeling frustration
As well as perspiration
So I go for restoration
But it all begins with me, so I’m learning to be patient.
It’s all in conjunction
With developing a function
Of seeing what’s around
Instead of making up assumption
I’m getting out the junction
of where I feel like I’m jumping
So I put myself in a place where
I only focus on one thing

(Here I go again
Hnnn…
[falls]
Breathes out)

The cycle starts again
“When’s this shit gonna end?”
Because I’m back on the floor
And I’m thinking “Not again”
This cycle only happens when I’m feeling really weak
But people only see how I really wanna be
To them I’m a courageous and strong individual
Indoor there’s a battle
Where only I see the visuals
I experience the effects
And battle with the emotions
In my head it’s all mixed up like a crazy kind of potion.
I’m fiercely independent
So I deal with it alone
And I only call for help when pain is all I know
For me it’s like “shit I can’t deal with this no more”
So I’m looking for peeps to call for help
Because I’m feeling really sore
While I wait for police to come
I try and be calm but at the same time
I’m thinking, “What the fuck have I done?”
I’m like my independence
Because I don’t like being dependent
But when people help me up
My mind starts second-guessing

“OK grab my arm.
Let’s go. 1-2-3”

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

I’m thankful to the people that always want to help me –
Truthfully it’s like my faith has been restored in humanity
First it is my family, then it is my friends
Then it’s different people from different ends
It’s like they knew my worth
And they’re afraid of causing hurt
So they play it safe and I can see how that works
Over time I’ve met a lot of people when
I’ve been in this situation
It’s not the ideal way but hey it feels amazing
But friendship is formed during that short space of time
And when I tell them what I do
They’re amazed at how I live my life
They call it inspirational
My speech is motivational
I’m just being me, and that’s all I can say to you
I love what I do but only few know about this
Some people think I’m refusing to acknowledge it
Yeah I hate falling over
But I love being tough
Because when I’m falling down
I’m only thinking about getting up.
(falls)

“I don’t usually let people in,” says Kass telling me that he’s been surprised by people’s reaction to this excellent poem. “One girl started crying! I was just portraying an insight of what it’s like. There are people who take my kindness for weakness so what do you do? I’m a poet, so I do a poem.”

Kass still has a large sum to raise – more than £15,000 in just three months. But as his friend Sandy points out on his fundraising video if everyone gives a little he can do it, “You know this man: he is your brother, he is part of your community. Please donate.”

“Anyone can come to the fundraiser – that’s why the seats are there. Perform or enjoy the show,” says Kass who’s really friendly. Entry is £5, but if you can’t make it and would still like to donate to help Kass get the medical treatment he wants then please visit his fundraising page .

Here’s looking forward to the show, the third he’s run, and wishing Kass the best of luck – both for this event and sorting out his health. You can get a taste of what the show will be like if you watch

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Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola