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Monday, 1 October 2012

October... BHM again! Guernsey again! And more...

When they say this is Black History
Do they mean this is history without the whitewash
Without the grey areas or red herrings – just one big old black hole
For school kids to sink kissing teeth into?

from 'Black History Revisited 2012'

It's the 1st of October and Black History Month is upon us. As I put in a poem I wrote for last Friday's event for Lewisham libraries, "black is infinite and history is never over". Incidentally, it was a really enjoyable night and I feel I learnt a lot and shared a lot with all those present.

The idea of a month to celebrate and learn about black history is at best a temporary solution to the fact that so-called mainstream history has been quick to omit much of what needs to be learnt about the nations and peoples who all too often end up in the chapter about slavery and Empire (turn to your GCSE textbooks and highlight page 364). At worst, it's a way to build up resentment on one side ("Where's our white history month then?") and a quota-filling culture on the other ("Let's pencil you in for October when we have a budget for your sort of thing...") I do, however, like to look on this month in its best light and take it for what it is: one of the only months when local councils and schools like to employ poets for added cultural value (don't worry - I'm pulling my best cheeky face as I write!)

I've a feeling I've said all this before though, so I won't go on much more except to say that I'll be using the month to read as much history as I can, via the stacks of fiction and poetry I have waiting to be opened on my bookshelf. Also, seeing as this summer marked the 50th anniversary of Independence for both Jamaica and Trinidad, there are a couple of events celebrating the two which look very interesting to me, and I'll keep you posted here.

Spoken Word Educators Programme 

The most exciting thing for me this month, from this week onwards, is that I begin my course at Goldsmiths in earnest and I also start teaching Spoken Word at a school in East London. This is all for a new programme that will see six of us trained as full-time Spoken Word Educators; the scheme will hopefully soon be rolled out across London and beyond but this is the pioneering year and I expect we'll all learn a lot along the way.

The people I'm on the programme with read are real gems who I'm glad to know: Raymond Antrobus, Dean Atta, Catherine Brogan, Pete the Temp and Indigo Williams. And I see that Ray's posted something up about it, so I'll not say much more!

I shall be doubly busy, however, which means I've had to ask for extra patience from friends... and to forgive any emails not replied to - resending usually helps ;)

Other things...

Guernsey - So yes, being part of the Guernsey Literary Festival was great; yes, I promised pictures ages ago and yes, I have some right here:


Before - and perhaps during - the trip, I imagined my camera would return full of pictures of cows and farms or at least the outsides of the venues where we did workshops, went to festival events and set up the Slam on the final Sunday. But no, thanks to having people with better cameras snapping the juicy stuff from the Festival, I have tonnes of pictures taken near the sea, looking towards the sea, above the sea, in the sea... There seems to be a theme.


John Paul and Katie

I was lucky enough to travel with Katie Bonna and John Paul O'Neill, who runs the Slam. This is actually a standard snapshot of how we spent the day. We got to work with some enthusiastic people, and some really great kids, who were brave enough to suspend both their misgivings on poetry and their public performance nerves and work on wildly-varying and imaginative poems based around this year's National Poetry Day theme, Stars.

A brief summary of what went down at the Slam - the final event of the Festival - can be found here.  

scary propeller plane going back
The book - Having not had time to do any work on the novel for a month but wishing it complete, I'm redoubling my efforts this week and am aiming for another 5,000 words by Saturday. Doable, yes?

The poetry - I've also been writing loads and I expect to be putting a first pamphlet together over Christmas

The gigs - 3 out of my 5 weekday eves are guaranteed busy these days so I have less time to go to gigs. Which means I'll be a bit more picky about where I go. Which can't always be a bad thing.

The rest - Will update here again soon... Next gig is the launch of RTJ's Big Heart at The Albany, Deptford, next week.

Good times! 

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