They Warmed My Heart & Made My Year More Beautiful

As you probably know by now, I’m a poet, so portions of my life are spent with poets and around the poetry scene, which brings me happiness and a wealth of other emotions.  This year has been spent in the world of poetry a lot more for me, bringing a lot of great people into my orbit.

I am beyond thankful to the stellar poet, who is Anthony Anaxagorou, for bringing me into the world of Out-Spoken.  Out-Spoken not only wows and inspires me, but the poetry and music onstage has enriched my soul on a number of occasions.  In November, I went to Out-Spoken feeling emotionally drained and was uplifted by the gorgeous, soulful sounds of Thabo, who was exactly what I needed on that day.  In December, I teared up to the ridiculously powerful poetry of Chimene Suleyman, then cried my eyes out to Lowkey’s emotion-fuelled, politically charged music.  They were both incredible nights; in fact, every night at Out-Spoken is incredible.

Going to Out-Spoken is also the perfect opportunity to see Anthony and Joelle (who I met during Rallying Cry) on a regular basis – both lovely human beings who always make me smile.   Anthony is also brilliant at convincing me to buy books.  Seeing Tom is great too, who I met through Spread The Word, and its been lovely to meet the ultra talented Karim and Kaia as well.

Paul was someone I’d known in cyber form for a couple of years, but I finally met him in the flesh at my poetry night in April.  He is a wonderful human being, who wowed us with his stage presence and made it clear that he wanted to support me and Young People Insight (YPI) as much as he could from the outset.

He stayed true to his word, putting out a photo of the two of us, captioning it with info about what I do and a call to action.  He also invited me to perform at Field Day in the summer with The Chocolate Poetry Club, his poetry organisation.  I was beyond grateful for the opportunity, as it was the biggest festival I had performed at up until that point and it provided me with another platform to get my poetry heard.  I’m so glad to have people like Paul in my orbit.

Field Day was where I met Usaama face to face for the first time, after being in contact through YPI on the Twtittersphere for a significant period of time.  I’d seen his work online, but watching Usaama perform his poetry in person is special.  What’s funny is that after finally meeting him in the flesh, I went on to seem him perform three more times throughout the year, including a few days later at Out-Spoken, none the less.

What I’ve come to love most though is not Usaama the poet, but Usaama the person.  We’ve sat together at three of the four events I’ve seen him perform at this year, so we’ve been able to chat a little bit.  His personality is unique, he always makes me laugh and he never fails to engage me in interesting conversation.  However, what makes Usaama really stand out is the amazing, beautiful compliments he gives that warm my heart and soul.  These aren’t basic, face-value compliments, but they are compliments that speak to the inner-most parts of my being and character.  Everyone needs someone in their life who compliments them like Usaama.

Then there is the lovely, supportive, community-orientated Darren from Well Versed Ink, who asked YPI to be one of the partner organisations for LIP Fest 2018.  Shout out to Justine (Well Versed Ink), Jemilea (Writerz & Scribez), Ted and Peter (Poets Anonymous) as well – I was happy to see it come to life with you all and I can’t wait to see how it develops next year.

And one of my favourite poetry nights, What You Saying, put together by the wonderful Humi, Daisy, Nomes and Nikki.  They have created a beautiful event that exudes a beautiful atmosphere, which I miss whenever I’m not there.  I’ve also met some beautiful people at their nights to, including Manj, Roe, Louise, and Nay, who I enjoy catching up with whenever we’re there.

Poetry has become one of my great loves and I’m blessed to share it with so many great people.  I hope their presence in my life will continue and that their creativity will continue to grow.  Love them all.


They All Effected Me in Some Way

Yesterday, I started off my series of blog posts about the beauties who have played a part special part in my 2018 by writing about Billy and Ken, who I met in Bridport early this year as part of TCFT.  I’ve decided to spend a little more time on some of the other people I spent time with in Bridport, as it was a meaningful part of my year.

Tina and Robert have been a special part of every one of my years since meeting them in 2015.  They are caring and wonderfully supportive, always there with words of advice and encouragement.  It was lovely to conduct video interviews with Robert for a third year – it has become one of my favourite parts of TCFT – and also hear more of his amazing stories.  Tina was the usual wonderful Tina, taking time to speak to me about TCFT Croydon (I’ll focus more on that in another post), but was also on hand to speak to me all throughout this year through our email exchanges and meetings in London.  She is truly the most amazing woman.

I’d never met Louise before this particular TCFT residency, but I was happy to finally meet her on this one.  Louise is kind, supportive and a very good listener – speaking to her was just what I needed when I was struggling slightly.  In addition to Louise, there was Louisa, a beautiful poet who I had the pleasure of leading out on workshops with.  There was a real yin and yang thing between the two of us, with Louisa being more of a page poet and me being more of a performance poet, which worked well.

Having dinner in the evening with my fellow artists was also one of the highlights of my week, with lovely food made by Alex, Rachael and Francesco, which I was incredibly thankful for.  I loved being able to spend some more time with my darling Francesco from Italy, who I felt like I bonded more with during that week.  I was able to have him read some of his beautiful poetry to me and we spent quite a bit of time dancing – he truly does bring me joy.

A lot of time was spent dancing when around the beautiful AK as well, who has the most amazing taste in music – his laptop and speaker brought me joy over and over again.  He also took a liking to my name, like the lovely Sam, Qan and Awais, who made me laugh a whole lot.

I developed a special bond with the talented Kaitlyn, whose energy would astound me.  We would have some really nice conversations and I foundnd myself offering words of advice as one of the older individuals there, but more than anything, I loved watching her grow in confidence and throw herself into the TCFT process.  Another young person I developed a bond with was Aimee, which seemed to happen over poetry.  What was hilarious to me was Aimee saying that she begun to read poems in my voice after seeing me perform, as I still don’t think that I’m that great of a poet.  I do know that I was able to inspire her in that week, which means a lot to me.

Being in a smaller group, I also got to spend some more time speaking to people from previous TCFT residencies that I had spent minimal amounts time with, like Finn, who is very funny, Kierra, who is very sweet, and the force that is Jade, who continues to grow more every year I see her.

However, the two individuals who played the biggest part in making my week special were my beautiful, beautiful hosts, Imanda and Makeda.  I had met them back in 2016 during the TCFT residency in Bournemouth, but I didn’t spend much time with them unfortunately, which is a shame because they are such inspiring individuals.

Imanda is one of the fiercest, loving, strongest women you will ever come across – a Mother Lion who will do all she can to protect her cubs.  She treated me with the most care and consideration, making me feel at home immediately.  I also enjoyed our evening chats, especially when she would share her life stories.  I am not exaggerating when I say she is amazing.  And then there is her lovely daughter Makeda, who is wise beyond her years and good at holding conversation herself.  We had a lot of laughs, a lot of fun and she definitely made me feel at home.  I loved staying with them and was actually sad to go.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to mention everyone, but I enjoyed spending time with every individual involved and they all had some sort of effect on me.  Every one of them is part of my TCFT family, who I love with all my heart.

Falling in Love with The Wire

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent time watching all five seasons of the epic crime series, The Wire.  Surprisingly, this was my first time ever watching The Wire, despite hearing so many great things about it from various individuals, and I can’t believe I waited so long to finally watch it.  This is a quality TV show filled with deep, gritty storylines and an amazing group of actors.  I’d describe it as one of the best television shows I’ve personally ever watched, along with my beloved Boardwalk Empire.

What makes The Wire so special is not just its stories that ring true to life, but the engaging characters that fill the screen and make the stories come to life.  The slow-burning nature of the show also allows us viewers to watch each character develop.  I found myself falling in love with some of these characters, wishing that I could reach out to them or them in my life.

I love the police characters of Bunk and Kima, and I am also a big fan of Lester and Sydnor.  I like McNulty when he’s not acting like an absolute idiot and over time, I grew to really like Carver.  However, it was the criminals and street level characters that I really fell in love with.

Despite not having much of an opinion of him at first, I saw how much I loved Avon when he had a much smaller part to play in later seasons.  Watching the first season again also made me see how much I loved his cool mannerisms.  I was not keen on Bodie’s character initially, but as I watched him grow over the seasons, I fell in love with him and I was heartbroken when he was killed.

Although they kind of annoyed me at first, I fell in love with the teenager characters in season four and I desperately wanted to see them all come out on top, but that unfortunately was not meant to be.  I adored the gorgeous, little Randy and it angered me when the police and the system let him down – he was a sweet thing who deserved so much better.  One of the saddest moments in The Wire for me was watching Dukie’s wasted potential as he ended up as a drug addict.  He’d come so far, but he just could not catch break, after also being let down by the system.

There are so many other characters in The Wire that I love, including Bubbles, the sweet, bumbling addict who eventually got clean and turned his life around.  However, there are two characters that I fell deeply in love with and they will always stand out most for me.

Wallace’s character was only in The Wire for the first season, but he managed to have a huge impact on me.  This was a teenage boy caught up in the dangerous “game” of drug-dealing, which eventually cost him his life.  Wallace is an appealing character, because he is a real sweetheart who is not cut out for the life he’s living in, but he can’t bring himself to get out for good.  He has a wonderful caring streak, which you don’t see too much in a show like The Wire, and that made him refreshing.

I was so devastated when he was killed by his friends Poot and Bodie (which is part of where my initial dislike for Bodie’s character came from) that it actually reduced me to tears and I can never watch that scene again.  I fell in love with Wallace’s character in a sisterly way and I looked at him like someone I wanted to hug, take in and look after, just so that he could get out of that life.

And then there is Omar, who is my ultimate favourite character in The Wire.  I will hold my hands up and say that I am head over heels in love with Omar.  His character has one of the most unique and captivating personalities that you will ever see, which is why I love him so much.  It also helps that he is funny and he comes out with great things like, “Oh indeed”.  Omar is special, because he is a murdering criminal with a strict moral code and a beautiful heart – he also doesn’t swear, which I love.

Omar is played by Michael K. Williams, who just happens to play my favourite character in Boardwalk Empire, Chalky White.  Williams brings the amazing sensitivity and grace to Omar that he also brings to Chalky, which has made him one of my favourite actors.  I could actually write a whole post alone on Omar, because I love him so much, but I’ll leave that for another day.

The Wire is a spectacular show that develops their characters in a way that has truly inspired me, as they grip at my heartstrings and make me genuinely care about people who are not real.  However, part of the reason I love these characters so much is because of the part they play in stories that ring true to life.  I just hope I can use this inspiration to create great characters in my plays and stories that others will care about and grow to love.