Latin Voices Live! looking for volunteers and arts & crafts materials

LatinLiveA4poster-page-001This year, we are running our spectacular Latin Voices Live! festival again, which explores Latin literature culture and history in a fun, interactive and largely free way, 2-9 Novmber.
 
We are in desperate need of an assortment of arts and crafts material, which is pretty much your rubbish – carrier bags, empty drink bottles, old duvets and pantyhose, cardboard, tissue – a really good excuse for a clear out !
 
Here’s the full list of stuff we’re looking for. Any and all donations welcome. If you can help, please email Tom Hamilton t.hamilton@sussex.ac.uk or me on writingourlegacy@gmail.com, and we can collect or arrange pick up.
We are also looking for volunteers and artists to get involved on the day – in the first instance, please email Cynthia or Michelle on writingourlegacy@gmail.com. Also check out our Get Involved page for more information. Continue reading →

Want to help out at this year’s Latin Voices Live! festival?

Want to help out at this year's Latin Voices Live! festival?

We’re holding our second public meeting for this year’s festival on Wednesday 25 September 6-8pm at the Quadrant Pub in Brighton.

We’re looking for volunteers to help out in a range of activity, from storytellers and dancers to art workshop assistants and stewards.

We’re also looking for Latin creatives to get involved in the week’s activity – writers, musicians, photographers, digital artists, actors and more. Continue reading →

Brighton artist, dancer, poet Irene Mensah (1963-2013) – Rest In Peace

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Irene Mensah. Photo: Suzanne Castine

We are saddened to share the news that our dear friend and Writing Our Legacy collaborator Irene Mensah passed away on Friday 12 April at 8.50am in Brighton.

Irene was a multi-talented artist, community worker and educator. She was a visual artist with a studio at Studio 106 and the Artree group, who recently exhibited as part of Black History Month in 2011.  In 2012, she also exhibited Mutter Matter Murmurings From The Drawing Room Table, a site-responsive art installation at Pitzhanger Manor-House & Gallery devised with co-collaborator Jane Fox.

Irene was also an exceptional African dancer, dancing for many years with Kissifaramaya and other dance groups. I personally first met Irene in her last West African dance class when I first moved to Brighton and was astounded by the sheer power of her energy and joy. It was an unexpected delight to learn more about Irene’s multi-facted talents, such as discovering she was a visual artist or that she worked on fascinating community projects, such as an oral history project in Hastings with the Jewish community.

More recently, I had the pleasure of working with Irene through the Black History Month group in Brighton, since 2010, where we met monthly to organise art and cultural events for the community. I remember Irene’s little comforting smiles to members of the group, as well as her strong ideas and opinions, which were always welcome.

She was a great supporter of the monthly spoken word and music Countdown nights, which we used to build audiences for Black History Month – all year long. It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of laughs. Irene also read her poetry at several of the Writing Our Legacy events, including an impromptu pop-up reading at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar car park.

Irene Mensah & Jenny Aburra
Irene Mensah & Jenny Aburra

Irene and I also worked together on a Tables of Remembrance and Ideas for the 2010 street party. Children and adults were invited to decorate paper bunting triangles with their heroes past and present, which were strung up around the square in front of Unitarian Church. I helped Irene with the marathon bunting project – miles of African coloured bunting, which we use at all our Black History Month events! (but she doesn’t want to be just remembered for this, we know for sure)

Irene was involved with our Latin Voices Live programme (2012) as an artist and maker. She ran Day of the Dead craft workshops at Mosaic Bring a Dish and she was a lead artist working alongside Tom Hamilton to create the fantastic array of colourful decoration for our November event. I can remember our celebratory meal in December, complete with shots of tequila (I think she abstained!) and food and laughter.

More recently, I have gotten to know Irene through our Write Meet Read writers group. We started work on a group anthology and I was enjoying hearing Irene’s poetry and prose come to life the more we progressed.

There is so much more to remember and know about Irene – this is only a small snapshot of the times I had the pleasure in working with her – not including counting her as a special friend too.

For Latin Voices Live 2013, we are planning to honour Irene in our Day of the Dead altar, which is a centrepiece to the day’s activities in November. For Write Meet Read, we are dedicating the anthology to Irene and her wisdom, kindness and creativity – the launch will take place on 2 November at Brighton Dome.

There is an open Facebook group set up to remember Irene, where friends and family are posting photographs, memories and information about memorials, events and her funeral.

Rest in peace Irene.

Thank you INCUBATE: a post from Lynne Blackwood

Portsmouth writer Lynne Blackwood was one of three successful applicants for our first ever Incubate live lit residency, working with Stuart Silver, coordinated by Akkas Ali, and now working with mentor Sarah Lee to develop an application for funding to support her talent. Lynne writes about what the experience has been like – the challenges, the fears and the excitement at unfolding inner strength, beauty and ambition – on the stage and off.  

This is probably going to be one of those posts where you think, “Oh goodness this is really too long to read,” but please continue, because I wish to demonstrate just how the INCUBATE programme changed my life as an isolated, disabled and struggling writer (of many talents, as I can now proudly say!).

How did it all happen?

I was writing like a fury, entering competitions and desperately seeking professional development.  But without a ‘track record’, doors were more or less closed.  I submitted a last minute application, thinking, “No, not me, never in a million suns.” But how wrong I was.

Several days later, I had to change all pre-Christmas plans and jump on a train to Brighton for a two full-day residency.  I should perhaps explain an essential fact as to why this post is longer than usual.  Isolated, disabled and living off benefits, yet a committed and passionate writer. That’s who I am.

What does that mean?  Daily struggles, believe me.

Continue reading →

Save the date: Thursday 24 January – INCUBATE industry scratch night – Nightingale Theatre, Brighton

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Left to right: Lynne Blackwood, Stuart Silver, Umit Ozturk, and Priti Barua. At Nightingale Theatre, Brighton on day 2 of Incubate residency.

We’re pleased to let you know that our Arts Council-funded live lit residency INCUBATE will be staging an industry scratch night on Thursday 24 at Nightingale Theatre, 7.30-9pm.

The night will feature a new live lit performance from three Sussex and South East writers – Umit Ozturk, Lynne Blackwood, Priti Barua – who are all exciting, up-and-coming Black and ethnic minority talents.

Since 14 December, they’ve been working with acclaimed producer Stuart Silver to turn their original writing – everything from one-page scripts, a short story and an even flash pieces – into live lit fit for the stage.

Stuart Silver is a BAFTA-nominated, Perrier award winning writer / performer / producer / director working solo and collaboratively across theatre and gallery venues, television, radio, public spaces and in creative educational and mentoring contexts.  He created the acclaimed monologue ‘You Look Like Ants,’ and is the co-founder of nobleandsilver, the multimedia comedic performance group.  He has featured in television programmes such as The Mighty BooshGarth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and Man to Man with Dean Learner.

There is limited seating in Nightingale Theatre so do book your ticket in advance to avoid disappointment. Tickets are £5 (4 concession), available from the Nightingale website: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/307701

After the performance audience and industry will have a chance to feedback on the performance and will also be invited to join writers and the Writing Our Legacy team to stay for a celebratory drink upstairs.

Don’t miss this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some unique talent in this very special programme!

Calling all writers!

Writing Our Legacy has joined forces with New Writing South to offer you a deal on two excellent workshops.

On Saturday 27 October, Jacob Ross is running a workshop for New Writing South.  And on Saturday 3 November, Writing Our Legacy is holding a workshop with Umi Sinha.

We are offering the chance to attend both workshops for £30.  Workshops include all refreshments (and lunch in the case of the Writing Our Legacy workshop), so this price represents great value.

Jacob Ross is a novelist and short story writer, and a well-known figure in the national literary landscape.  He has judged several important prizes including the Olive Cook and Tom-Gallon literary awards, and the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize.  In 2013 Jacob will be judging and editing submissions for Closure, an anthology of contemporary Black fiction for Peepal Tree Press.  This workshop is a fantastic opportunity to meet Jacob and find out what he’s looking to include in the anthology.

Umi Sinha is a highly experienced creative writing tutor.  She taught autobiography and fiction at the University of Sussex for over ten years.  She is also a published writer of short stories and children’s stories, and a trained storyteller.  Her workshop will take place at Brighton Museum.  Using objects and artefacts from the Museum as prompts, the workshop will focus on memoir, and on fictional ways of telling ‘The History of Ourselves.’  Umi will also discuss upcoming opportunities for new writers to get into print.

To book both workshops at the special price of £30 please go to http://writingourlegacy2012.eventbrite.co.uk

The workshops can also be booked via the New Writing South website: http://www.newwritingsouth.com

Jacob Ross’s workshop takes place at The Writers’ Place, 9 Jew Street, Brighton BN1 1UT and runs from 1.30pm to 6pm.

Umi Sinha’s workshop takes place at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery (entrance in the Pavilion Gardens) and runs from 10.30am to 4pm.  Lunch provided.

Try out spoken word performance with Roy Hutchins

PHD performance at Writing Our Legacy showcase, 2010. Photograph: Paul Jackson

New and experienced writers will have their chance to try out spoken word performance with the Roy Hutchins, from partner Brainfruit

Draw out that inner live lit performer in an afternoon workshop at Brighton Museum.

This workshop promises to be fun, collaborative, inspiring, engaging and accessible.

Roy will take you through a practical step-by-step approach to performing before a live audience, and will help you develop a method for gaining confidence and skills to read your work.

Saturday 13 October, 1.30-4pm. Workshop £5/3. Advance booking from http://writingourlegacy2012.eventbrite.co.uk

Tell us you’re coming on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/466631480034970/

INSPIRE Friday 5 October – Patience Agbabi, Rounke Coker – Hastings Museum 7.30pm

INSPIRE Friday 5 October – Patience Agbabi, Rounke Coker – Hastings Museum 7.30pm

Our season kicks off on Friday 5 October with the country’s hottest poet Patience Agbabi from Canterbury reading alongside Nigerian storyteller Rounke Coker at Hastings Museum. Both explore their histories in a unique way, one influenced by Nigeria, the other by Chaucer and the love of the English language.

Presented in partnership with AfriKaBa. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Advance tickets £5 – to book, phone Hastings Museum. Phone:01424 451052 or from http://writingourlegacy2012.eventbrite.co.uk

Patience Agbabi is a poet, performer and workshop facilitator. She was born in London in 1965 to Nigerian parents and spent her teenage years living in North Wales. She was educated at Oxford University and has appeared at numerous diverse venues in the UK and abroad over the last 12 years. She currently lives in Gravesend, Kent and is working on a modern remake of the Canterbury Tales, Canterbury Remix.

R.A.W., her groundbreaking debut collection of poetry, was published in 1995, and won the 1997 Excelle Literary Award. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry and IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain. In 2004 she was named as one of the Poetry Society’s ‘Next Generation’ poets.

Bloodshot Monochrome is a glorious poetic take on all things black, white and read. Reinventing the sonnet, Patience Agbabi shines her euphoric, musical lines on everything from growing up to growing old, from Northern Soul to contract killers, from the retro to the brand new. Agbabi’s verse is sublimely lyrical and spiked with gleeful humour.

Patience Agbabi has read at key literature festivals such as Edinburgh Book Festival and Ledbury Poetry Festival; and music festivals including Glastonbury Festival and Soho Jazz Festival. She has also worked extensively for The British Council, delivering her work in a range of venues from university lecture theatres to a metro station, in countries including Namibia, 1999, the Czech Republic, 2000, Zimbabwe and Germany, 2001, and Switzerland, 2002.

David Nwokedi: “Biscuits from the 70s”

Biscuits from the 70s

By David Nwokedi

Biscuits
From
The
‘70’s

Ronnie
Corbett
Ronnie
Barker
‘Pass me a bourbon’
Chocolate
Please
Elbows off

Charley Farley
And
Piggy Malone
Oooh, lickety lips

Rich Tea
Stand up for the Queen
Richer than
Steve McQueen
Rich and soggy
Soggy and
Rich
Dunk them in
My tea
Floppety-glunk

Too much UNI-GATE
Gold top
Silver top
School top
Co-op stamp
Green shield
Stampety-stamps

Custard creams
Coffee fingers
Malted milks
Lincoln, Gary Baldy
An
Amazin’
Raisin bar
Twice as nice
On
A
Friday night

Steptoe
And
Son
Morecambe
And
Wise
Randall
And
Hopkirk

Deceased

Afros
From
The
70’s

Black
And
White
Minstrel

Show

Hey!

Stop

That!

I woz

There

Too

Dunk

David Nwokedi was born in Nigeria in 1965 to a Nigerian father and a British/Irish mother. He grew up in Newhaven and Brighton. A qualified social worker, David lived in London for 10 years and now lives back in Brighton and works in social work management. Read his full biography here.

David will be reading from his first novel and extracts from his current work in progress at a literary event called Writing Our Legacy on Friday 7 October at Unitarian Church, Brighton. You can get tickets for this event here: http://writingourlegacy2011.eventbrite.com/

Olumide Popoola: “this is not about sadness”

Excerpt from novella this is not about sadness (2010)

By Olumide Popoola

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Experiences come in all manners. They spread and engage, tug and pull, question and challenge. Much longer than you desire. My name is Tebo. Tebogo. I arrived yesterday. It is spring, they say, but I wasn’t prepared for this. What a strange city. It looks nice outside with the sun shining, the clouds sitting fat and well-fed underneath the blue of the sky, but when we stepped out of the cab it was not as I had expected it. Eish, the wind is too cold! It hits from the west, drops sharply south, then spreads into all directions. Everything shivers. It is cold but I’m glad I’m here. If not for Lucky and his broad smile I would be crying right now. But I’m glad I’m here. Really. I’m here to forget what happened on the corner of Koma and Potch. That stretch of red earth before the tar begins. Where the fine dust is whisked up by speeding cars. Where the soil is hard but layered with the finest, the finest of dust.

Three months and 15 days ago I stood on that corner. Zanele and Pedita were having one of their usual arguments so I had left the party. Not to disappear, not to smoke – I don’t, not even dagga – I just wanted to catch some air, think about what to do and if this was going to be one of those nights and I had to make the long way to Number 36 by myself. Although it was going to be Sunday I had work to do, finishing the set at the Windybrow where I was doing my internship in stage design. It was my final month and it had gone well, very well, mainly because I know how to stay out of trouble At least I used to. I was standing on the corner thinking about how I would make that long journey from Soweto while Zanele and Pedita were still at each other’s throats, filled to the rim with cheap booze like a vat of freshly brewed beer, with no one else around that cared. We hardly knew anyone at that party, but had thought better go than wonder about what we had missed. Now I was stranded there. Those two always found a reason to fight and then make up; it was their pattern. One time they had driven off without me, still shouting, and only in the morning did they remember that they had left their best friend to beg for a bit of space in other people’s overcrowded cars.

I stood on that dusty corner, only for a few minutes. When your life changes you cannot foresee the impact, but when it does, the things that happen are unstoppable. Like the dust, they get carried away with the current; like the wind, it buries itself deep in your bones, and slowly from the inside out you start peeling away. Your old self stripping off, all that was truth, one layer at a time. Never to be innocent again.

My name is Tebo. Tebogo. I arrived yesterday.

Well, she came one day. Small and fragile. Pretty little thing but yuh tink she a tink she can carry bricks so. I neva waan talk to her. Me ah just sit inna me front room looking outta de window. Me no need no young little thing ah tell me how de world must run. Nuh! She always got sumting fi sey. Asking, always asking. Den her eyes look pon me like sey she neva gon’ see me again. Her big eyes. Like she waan find sumting pon de bottom of de well. Me well, very well but no well, nuh so? Chups. She work hard, man she coulda work hard. Drag all dem old things outta de house, clear de garden, all by herself. It was an accident. Everyone sey so.

Everyone comes with a past. That’s where the story lies, naturally. She came in a cab. Motor running, cabbie leaning against the black roof, smoking. Lucky running inside to get more money for the fare. His step, heavy from the weight of his belly, absorbed by the asphalt. Inside the vehicle, the girl. If frailness was a measurement, she would have scored a six out of ten. Evenness is what best describes how she seemed. Small, slender and very polite looking but somehow you thought she’d call you out if need be, very matter-of-fact, straight away. Then the dragging of a suitcase. Lucky smiling, cab driving off. The girl freezing, looking for the first time at her new environment.

The grey house – not Lucky’s – but inside it his dark ground floor flat, wedged between others, snug and tight. A mid-terrace Victorian house. This is how she arrived on Corbyn Street. The next morning routine starts. Lucky off to work, as usual early shift, London barely lit by a hopeful sky. […] Lucky returns in the late afternoon. He smiles, always does and a few minutes later they both stroll to Tesco’s. She’s chatty now, alive. Her face remains un-creased and well arranged but her eyes awake now, travel and extend to the distances between houses and corners, street signs and shops, local pub and butcher. Attentive, she asks questions, holds Lucky’s hand like a friend does. On their way back she points to the house, laughs again.

“They all look the same.”

“Yeah,” Lucky replies.

The woman tending to her front garden next door is a familiar fixture on the street. Bent over, she is big boned and hunched permanently. They speak. Lucky introduces the girl but the woman’s lips hardly move. In her hand a small scoop, she keeps her eyes on the bit of soil between the pavement and the flagstones in front of the entrance to her house. The tool grips the earth she watered, like it’s making an incision. Metal drives itself into soil, she doesn’t look up long enough for the sun to make her eyes blink. The girl looks at Lucky, startled. He shrugs. These are the peculiarities. There are many. Like everywhere. […]The gardener has moved on already. Her thoughts carried away from the dirt and much further than the girl a few meters away. Leathery her face, a thin type, and smooth like fine suede, of course without the fuzz. The girl can’t pull herself away. In the bubble created by the confusion of her internal body clock and the new impressions, she’s stuck. Glued to the very spot she’s standing on. The woman’s hands are moving, scraping, tugging. Weeds are piled neatly, the flagstones framed on all corners by brown alone, almost a third of them cleared of vegetation. Lucky calls from inside. The girl follows him then turns around again.

“A beautiful flower bed you have here”.

Immersed in her work there is a faint “uh huh”.

“So well cared for. I can see.”

The woman is returning to her work, her back square and solid, warding off.

“… you must be…”

But there won’t be an answer. The girl’s eyes linger for another second then she follows Lucky into the house. Their door shuts and there is laughter again. Pots rattle. Later there’ll be food and friends, the table set in the kitchen, guests arriving. The girl meets many, Lucky a smiling host. Music from an iPod hooked onto an old-fashioned stereo that came with the flat, and more laughter, which sticks to the walls like condensation.

Next door the woman, the gardener, the one with no speech for the girl. She’s on the bed, her feet dangling slightly in the air. Her day has been divided between the front yard and the inside of her flat. The washing neatly folded on the chair in the bedroom. She will put it away another day. Tomorrow perhaps, when there are more hours of the same week broken by the visit to the church, she herself won’t make. Her night is restless on the single bed, her ears distracted by the young voices next door, crawling through the air like a racoon’s touch through a tent wall. Soft, almost dismiss-able but with a faint imprint of certainty. People.

She tosses, right and left, her gown tangling with each move. Her eyes squint now in a way they didn’t in the afternoon, when the neighbours passed. Now they stare into the dark room, asking for the lid to temporarily close on her consciousness. She sleeps lightly, scurried dreams keeping her always just above the surface. In the morning when she rises there is a sore spot on her lower back. There the mattress left an impression. The unrest.

I neva know how she come sit inna me garden. She always talk. Always! Me neva have nutin to sey. Whey me ah sey? Little thing she is, why she gon’ have to talk to me? Me just mind me own business, harm nobody. I know all a dem think me crazy or sumting. Mek dem talk. Me no do nutin to nobody.

Olumide Popoola is a Nigerian German performer and author whose work extends and crosses genres. Her poetry and prose has been published in magazines, memoirs and anthologies in Germany, Slovenia, South Africa, USA, Sri Lanka, UK and Nigeria. Her novella this is not about sadness was published in 2010 (Unrast Verlag, ‘insurrection notes’ series). Read her full biography here.

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