Archive for April, 2009

11I’ll be performing at the launch of the latest Daydream Magazine on Thursday 23rd April at 33 Marshal Street W1 at 7.30pm. The theme of this edition is ‘Back to Basics’, which prompted me to write a poem about candles and power cuts on the island where I grew up. I recently got to perform this poem to torchlight in the Poetry Cafe during Earth Hour. 

The literary side to Daydream, which is also a visual arts mag, is the brainchild of poet and editor Inua Ellams. Other performers include Gemma Weekes, Awet Sarah Yohans and the wonderful Naomi Woddis, who seems to be becoming my performance partner – this is our fourth in a row….

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From 24th April – 4th May 2009 I’ll be taking part in Slow Down London, a brand new festival that urges Londoners to experiment with taking things slowly. 


On 2nd May, I’ll be teaming up with WRITELondon‘s Jasmine Cooray for the London Canal Write – a creative writing workshop that meanders along London’s canals, with time to ponder, write, share and think about our city in new and different ways….I’m feeling summery just thinking about it. I’ve ordered some good weather. The workshop starts at Warwick Avenue Tube Station at 11am. See the Slow Down London website for details.

The other workshop I’m running is something entirely new for me. It’s a Snail Mail Workshop on 25th April, dedicated to the slow art of writing letters. For someone who’s grown up in the age of email, I’ve written a lot of letters – I’ve just never thought of this as something other people would be interested in. But since I decided to run the workshop all sorts of people have started talking to me about it, from friends and family to a journalist from the Evening Standard. It actually seems that people are bothered about letters. Many of the people I’ve spoken to are convinced that we say things in letters that we would never say in an email and are excited about the possibilities of just sitting down to write. This has also made me excited – people are often a bit reluctant to think about writing a poem, but everyone knows they can write a letter. This makes the creative potential of letter writing something well worth experimenting with. The way I see it, because letters have been outdated by email, texting and instant messaging, we can make them into something else. If letters are no longer an essential means of communication (and no one can argue that they are) then what can they be used for?

In the Snail Mail workshop I’ll be exploring these questions and giving everyone a chance to play with new ways of looking at letter writing as something creative. It’s free, and will take place at Foyles, Charing Cross on Saturday 25th April 2pm – 4pm. To book, contact: events@foyles.co.uk.

As well as the workshop, over the next few weeks I’ll be posting some of my thoughts and findings about letters on the blog. Hopefully I can get hold of a scanner and show you some of the letters I’ve received in the past. One of the things I love most about letters is how random and rambling they are. You can’t cut and paste in a handwritten letter. I’ll see if I can pick out some examples of this from my letter stash. I remember my then 13 year-old sister writing me a letter while she was living in Germany that ranged from her thoughts about German school to her teacher’s facial hair and some cookie cutters she wanted to buy.

To see Slow Down London (and some mentions of my letter writing escapades) in the news, take a peek at the Financial Times, The Times and look out for an upcoming letter writing feature in the Evening Standard over the next week or so….

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One of the houses you can see down there was, believe it or not, the house where I lived aged 0-3. It’s on the Isle of Erraid, on the West coast of Scotland, opposite the holy island of Iona, which more people have heard of. It’s a big sadness of mine that I don’t get to go there more often, in fact, I haven’t been back for years now. The truth is, it’s one of the most difficult-to-get-to places in the world.


I often start performances with a poem I wrote about Erraid. Mainly because I know it well and it’s a poem that works well in performance because of the sounds. Hence why it looks a bit out of place on the page:

Morning Milking

Six am: the day

a pale sharp blue

down the track

my hand in my dad’s

everything waking

in frosted outlines

me in my wellies

and bobble hat

walking the morning.

Into the byre

sleepy and deep with dung

mixed with the mist

of breath in the moo

of the morning.

I stand on the gate

watch, as my dad

takes the teats

between fingers

and eases drips

from the udders

sending the shudders

up and down my spine

in time with the milking.

And the droplets of milk

and of mud and of love

cling in the air

of the clean blue morning

stinging the two red dots

of my cheeks

bright as my boots

and bobbling hat.

Silent, I watch

wanting to seal and stamp

this moment in an envelope

addressed to my older self

there, on the mat of a London flat

next to the semi-skimmed pasteurised

saying: you were once

this child of the morning.

You can become her again.

This poem was published in The Freedom of Paper and Ink (Salt), the anthology of the school-based poetry project Write Lines, let by poet Sundra Lawrence. I worked on Write Lines in 2007 as Project Coordinator, which is where I learnt a lot of what I’m doing now on the London Teenage Poetry SLAM.

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Yes. That’s what I hope this will be. I’ve got the ipod plugged into the speakers, the house empty and a blog to create. And I’ve been instructed by Mr. Yemisi Blake, blog guru, to have fun with this. So that’s what I’m doing. Things will unfold, maybe slowly, but they will. Wow. All this space for my own words. Like I said, beautiful 🙂

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