HASTINGS WORKSHOP 08/11 On Thursday the 8th of November, I was tired. My nose was filled with more mucus than a thing filled with a lot of mucus and the weekdays before were spent designing for Apples & Snakes and for the Oneatste Festival - clothing, books, desktop wallpapers etc. I was excited about going to Hastings, but my bones acted otherwise. Mind over mattering, I persevered, rolled out of bed, onto a bus, into a Clapham Junction Train Station, into Hastings and into the friendly face of Jennifer, my first contact of the day.
A quick lunch later, I was at The Grove school teaching a group of gifted kids poetry. We only had an hour, so we warmed up with a couple of games, I read a couple of poems and we got into the process of writing. I have a little poem that deals with identity through objects, we broke down its construction and I had the young ‘uns write about themselves. Have to say I was wowed by what was written. A girl wrote about her father tending to her wounds, one of the Daniels wrote about silence, and a girl who asked to be called ‘Dave’ wrote about her family.
After The workshop the teachers told me they were astounded ‘Dave’ wrote in the first place, and could not believe it when she read her work. Poetry Power.
The next day, the workshop was at Hastings Museum, we pretty much sat and talked about ourselves for two hours. The writing exercise was more about generating ideas and using imagination than about writing Poetry specifically.
That Friday night, I walked into the green room of the venue - The Sussex Hall, White Rock Theatre - to a home-cooked meal of rice and peas. (They know how to treat poets in Hastings). I helped myself, and made a set list until I was called to the stage. I read five poems and stepped off to a roaring applause. The audience were warm, friendly and they listened to the surreal metaphysical trips I deal with in my work. I stepped off the stage feeling a lot better about poetry than I have in months.
Linton Kwesi Johnson came on… and was… Linton Kwesi Johnson. The Style, the confidence, the experience, the philosophy, the history and culture flowed effortlessly from him. The Audience at points began applauding at the mere mention of poems like “Sonny’s Letter” and “Five Nights of Bleeding”. I met some ladies who had last seen Linton read thirty years ago. My parents hadn’t even met then. Imagine.
I think one of the successes of the night was the contrast. Me, of Hip Hop and Metaphor, Linton of Reggae and Reality. Afterwards we shared a drink in the hotel bar and Linton told me of Nigerian poets I am ashamed I never knew of. I have been doing my homework since.
Hastings and the people I met there helped me realise that London stifles the nomad in me. This coming year I want to travel, read and teach more outside of London.
I could not resist taking some photos. These are of the Museum, and the sea front. Check 'em out.
Stay Cool. But keep Warm Inua x