“Only those who will risk going too far, can possibly find out how far one can go” TS Elliot
My autopilot broke yesterday. It felt like an outer-body experience. I was moving but going nowhere fast and I didn’t have the choice of stopping. Too often these days I feel as though that choice is not on the table. A friend once said she thinks I create more hours in the day and we both laughed, but my body groaned. Surely, there is a time for rest and I’m trying to find it before burnout finds me. I was longlisted for the Jerwood inaugural Poetry Fellowship last week. It was disappointing news because I could have used the Fellowship, the money, the mentoring but so it goes. I was reminded by someone close that I need to track my process publicly because I often forget how much I have done, focusing instead on where I am trying to go. So here I am, tracking the process, trying to get some balance with the journey.
I started Home Is… in 2014, I had been thinking about it for a good while but unsure how to even go about developing a show or applying for funding. I did a lot of research, spoke to people and before I knew it, I was applying for funding and cold calling anyone I thought could assist (shout out to Tom Greene of Counterpoint Arts for responding so graciously and opening early doors). There were those who straight up said I couldn’t pull it off; others who said it in between the lines. But thanks to so many people in 2016 everything started to shift- I got funding twice, staged a 4**** reviewed show in Manchester and London, curated an exhibition with a poetry dance film, a poetry animation several illustrations and documentaries, organised workshops for young people in Manchester and London, etc. And, I was working on Hillsborough at the time and doing other projects like Bards Without Borders and regular features. Coming up to the night of the last show, juggling my roles as producer, actor, writer, marketer, curator, etc I’m not sure how it all came together anymore. I just remember sitting in the Q n A and people being touched and provoked and no one wanted to stop talking and I suddenly felt like wow! It was slow but it was worth it. My auto pilot broke 2 days later, thankfully on a beach somewhere.
I’m now trying to organise a tour of the play and I need producers,money and contacts. Got one major venue but need a few more and its starting to feel pointless again because for some of us doing this as independents, it’s one step forward and another back. By the way if you are a producer or a venue who is interested in partnering on a small scale tour for a brilliant show on home and belonging, call me. Overview of the project here.
Thankfully, the beauty in tracking where I have been is that I know progress is happening: Did Callaloo last year, Southbank’s WOW Festival in March 2017, was published in Brittle Paper in May, 3 of my poems will be published in Pittsburgh Poetry Review in the autumn, I was accepted on the Invererne Summer Residency for July,doing the Poetry School Mixed Border Residency at Postman’s Park next weekend, the Southdown Poetry Festival the 24th, just got selected to be the Associate Artist on 3ff’s Amplify project, addressed the largest crowd I have ever been in front of at St Paul’s Cathedral in connection with this video and my personal writing workshop project for black writers under 30 was brilliant. One of my students is getting published in an international journal.
So I’m impatient but I guess I’m learning to trust God’s timing. What’s meant for you will come to you. Sometimes very slowly but it will come. There are gems in the process, I’m learning to find them.
Catch me somewhere in June. Events are up.