News from Inua Ellams. 08/05/08 Cannot believe Boris won! I'll have to start watching my back now. With this, we enter the 5th Month of the Year... and the 5th use of the formula: four news items & something good from YouTube: MiD / PROSPECT / FREE WORD / LIVE REC / YOUTUBE:
MUSEUM in DOCKLANDS - On April 3rd, I was invited as a speaker to a seminar at the Museum in Docklands. The conference was called 'London Sugar & Slavery'. Essentially, it was a gathering of Museum curators, academics, managers and consultants speaking on their experiences last year, creating projects around the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. My role as a speaker was to read poems around the theme. I read four poems over the day: 'Neverself', 'Clubbing', 'Dustbin Diaries' and 'For the Fighters and lovers'. As a writer, I never think to place myself or my work academically or historically. I just write. But it was interesting, intensely interesting, to realise how seamlessly they complimented the discussions. But this isn't about that. It's about The Museum in Docklands. It is a permanent exhibition of Britain's History, our history, of Slavery, and it is breath taking in detail, scope, form, challenge, humanity. Comprising of paintings, contemporary photography, illustrations, time-spliced projection / animation... I can't begin to describe the place. So just check it out: Museum in Docklands
PROSPECT - Prospect Magazine has a circulation of 27,000 or so and is one of the leading magazines on current affairs and cultural debate in the UK, alongside the New Statesman and The Spectator, with contributors from both the left & right wings. Contributors have included Nobel Literature laureate J.M.Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Gordon Brown and more... But one evening A Poem in Between People, my poetry collective (with Johsua Idehen, Musa Okwonga and Catherine Martindale) met Prospect's assistant editor, Tom Chatfield, for a round the table discussion on poetry, spoken word. It took a couple of beers to loosen lips, but the article is cool, if you have the time, please read: Prospect
FREE WORD - On the 12th & 13th of April, London's Southbank housed the FREE THE WORD festival. (Yes, I know the title is lame). Over the two days, a horde of poets and I created and executed a Word Walk / Literature Tour / Festival Hike type thing, where parts of the Southbank were sectioned off with masking tape into performance areas, and in them, poems were performed to those who followed the trail. It was an experience. The term 'Teen Spirit' came alive in the form of secondary school kids - performers on the tour - chasing down passer-bys to listen to poetry, yelling FREE THE WORD!! Now, I did what I could, but the old man in me shook his head and sighed in nostalgia at the idea that I once had so much faith and energy... The tour, put together by Eastside Educational Trust, was a bristling success. The freerunners, skate boarders, graffiti artist & BMXers did not what hit 'em! As part of the warm up before performing, we were taught an ancient urban hymn I shall now pass on to you and those I teach poetry. It goes...
Black socks they never get dirty The longer you wear them the stronger they get Sometimes I think I should wash them Then a small voice tells me don't do it yet Not yet, Not yet, Not yet, Not YET!
THE LIVE RECORDING - Of Six poems from the Fairy Negro Tales, was a fun, laid back night, a perfect valediction to the poems. A warm and attentive audience of friends, writers, acquaintances and strangers came to the show at the Miller. We ran a little late to begin, but I was relaxed on stage, the poems were read, recorded and filmed. The audience stayed around chatting and getting to know each other, well into the night. Special shout outs go to Rory Broadfoot (I know right! that surname conjures the 'what do they say about men with big feet' joke) the cameraman, to John Hendicott - sound and music guru: both guys brought down thousands of pounds worth of equipment to capture the show, finally to Bailey for being herself. The next step is for the recording to be edited, chopped up and YouTubed. Stay tuned.
YOUTUBE: RYAN Vs DORKMAN - I am a geek. I say this in complete and utter pride. Through my formative years I looked like Steve Urkel (google him), loved and still love Star Trek (was once put on detention of studying The Starship Voyager's blueprints instead of working - there are no toilets on that ship!), I know HTML in-jokes, I even have an anecdote about being a black Milky Bar Kid, growing up in Nigeria titled 'The Way of the Nerd”. Bullies around the world spend decades tormenting the likes of us. From schooling in Nigeria to schooling Dublin and London, the bully / geek dynamic remained constant. But eventually we supersede our muscle bound nemesis and steal the lime light. A great example is the following clip where nerds, my people, show their brilliance, in the execution, action sequence and use of CGI. George Lucas, eat your heart out; this is bloody brilliant: