We are The Lab! – Chelsi-Bouher

The Poem: Part 1

This is a poem I had written before joining the Lab, originally intended to be a poem standing on it’s own.

Unappealing to the sight,

Rough to the touch,

Not the kind of guy,

That gets much love.

Yet he persists,

To exist,

In the cracks and creases,

Growing large in some places,


But the living never lasts long,

Before he is once again,


From that spot.

Portrait by TEN Photography

A little about me

Hi, I’m Chelsi, I’m 19, I’m from Northampton and am currently studying English here. In May, I was finishing up my first year of university, while working in a warehouse part- time. Despite finally being on the course I had always dreamed of; I was not happy. I’d never had an amazing time socialising. After lockdown I was so desperate trying to make up the time that I began to lose myself in trying to fit in with different groups of people. The lab saved me from that. It was the first place I didn’t have to try to fit in, to fit in. Not just a different group of people, but also a group of different people.

What drew me to The Lab?

The creative spirit enticed me, drawing me in for the bardic open mic nights- which truly are bardic. As a child I loved creativity and play, I almost lost the passion until I became surrounded by like- minded people at just the right time. Creativity breeds creativity and I find my connections at The Lab inspiring, enabling me to reconnect with myself. Meeting the bards of Northamptonshire reminded me why I loved writing poetry, the value to creativity, but most importantly the fun and magic of it. Knowing that what The Lab offered me was so crucial, I wanted more involvement, stars aligned and I’ve been working there for a few months now. Being an employee hasn’t tainted my experience as a member of the lab, I feel just as at home on either side of the bar. 

The Community

The community at The Lab acts like a kind of Doctor Who’s Tardis, one aspect of it unfolds seamlessly into another, opportunities for involvement are constantly appearing. I never dreamed that I would roam beyond the borders of written poetry, reading and writing it was pretty much my entire creative focus. Diversity of the expressions around me pushed me towards other aspects of art, expanding my perspective.  I can now see and enjoy the creativity in everything. Enjoying the play of creativity for me is linked to enjoying the play of everyday life, it’s something I’m passionate about everyone having access to.

The neighbours new puppy escaped and I took him in for cuddles

As a result, getting more people involved in the community is really important to me as a walking example of what it can offer to you (much like all the members)! Spaces that encourage play and creativity also build strong communities of diverse, expressive, supportive voices. Now, more than ever, I see a need for those voices. Those voices are in everyone when given the space and compassion needed to develop, which is why the Lab welcomes everyone. Events are significantly varied from burlesque nights to family art jams. If you have a creative passion the Lab likely offer an event for it and if not they’re always happy to chat about organising one!

The Poem: Part 2

The poor little sod,

Who kept on being,

Plucked from that spot.

He learned to grow fast,

Learned to grow strong,

Learned to grow in tune with,

The hum of his own song.

While others hardly survive,

Through mighty storms he thrives.

Standing stoic,

Through hail and snow,

A palace of a man,

With legs for a throne,

In himself,

He forged a home.

A crack in the pavement,

Where others still go,

But tread ever so politely,

Around the space he owns.

I thought the way this poem developed was a perfect example to reflect the importance of the space and growth The Lab offers individuals on their journeys.