Category Archives: Memoir

Writing and Repair – A Healing Justice Conversation

Ahead of the first in the series of Healing Arts workshops, run by Voices That Shake!’s Healing Justice collective, here’s some nourishing quotes from writers on the healing power of writing: a conversation between Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, bell hooks, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Junot Díaz and others.

And a link to the essay that derives one of my favourite go-to quotes (which I’ve possibly mentioned on every single Shake! course is also up here: “Creativity is the Immune System of the Mind…”).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


bell hooks:
Writing is my passion. It is a way to experience the ecstatic. The root understanding of the word ecstasy—“to stand outside”—comes to me in those moments when I am immersed so deeply in the act of thinking and writing that everything else, even flesh, falls away.

Arthur Koestler: There is no sharp dividing line between self-repair and self realisation. All creative activity is a kind of do-it-yourself therapy, an attempt to come to terms with traumatising challenges

Toni Morrison: There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

Maya Angelou: When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that. But I’m also trying for the language. I’m trying to see how it can really sound. I really love language. I love it for wate it does for us, how it allows us to explain the pain and the glory, the nuances and delicacies of our existence. And then it allows us to laugh, allows us to show wit. Real wit is shown in language. We need language.
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Friday Feelings – an incidental diary by Harry Jivenmukta

Friday Feelings by Harry Jivenmukta (featuring artwork by Janet Devine) is the very first individual collection of poetry to emerge from the Artists in Mind writing collective, The Write Stuff. Here’s the foreword I was asked to write for the book below.

FF book cover photo
Friday Feelings – Foreword

For two hours on occasional Fridays a group of people gather in a converted mill-building on the edge of Huddersfield town centre and create magic. The ritual begins with the setting out of tables in the centre of the room, chairs are assembled round the outside, the kettle is boiled, greetings are exchanged. As the last mug of steaming tea is delivered to the table, the sacred sacrament is passed around – crisp, white, blank sheets – take one, pass them along. Next, the magician’s wands: an assortment of biros – tools to connect thoughts direct from brain through body to fingers and out on to paper.

We create under the motto of AiM’s founder, John Holt: “Creativity is the immune system of the mind and the source of the mythic”. Continue reading

Refined Sugar

Much thanks to Sinclair from the prolific Poetical TV for the filming of this boiled down, re-processed version of my Tangled Roots memoir, Processed Sugar.

Props to Deanna & Dean and the Come Rhyme With Us fam for a most enjoyable, warm and flavoursome couple of gigs, and check the Poetical TV archive for lots more  poetry food – including the force that is Rhythm of Men. Tasty.

Tangled Roots anthology launch and performance

The Tangled Roots anthology was launched last night at Seven Arts, Leeds, accompanied by a performance of blended stories from five of the writers: Michelle Scally Clarke, Seni Seneviratne, Jane Steele, Adam Lowe, and myself.

Due to the fact that the theatre space roof had collapsed the night before, we were forced to improvise what would have been a more theatrical rehearsed piece in the café bar. We dubbed this performance, Tangled Roots: the Radio Play. It seemed to work. And with broadcaster Nick Ahad among the contributing writers perhaps a radio treatment could even be a possibility? (nudge nudge ;)).

The book itself features further writings on the subject of inter-racial Yorkshire love from Emily Midorikawa, Desiree Reynolds, Audrey Dewjee, Abiola Awojobi-Johnson, Chloë Anderson, Theeda Winter, Cassandra Henry, Eve Ahmed and project devisor/producer Katy Massey.

The book can be ordered from the website.

Happy World Book Day!

TROOTS cover

Processed Sugar – Tangled Roots memoir

photo by Anthony Farrimond

photo by Anthony Farrimond

Processed Sugar
– a memoir of growing up ‘mixed-race’ (an extract)

Mum and dad never really thought they’d settle in Pontefract. Ponte was supposed to be tough. Hard, gritty. Neighbour of Fev, Cas, Wakey, ex-mining town, northern, White working class. They had lived in York.

One day, heavily pregnant with my older brother Andrew, my mother ventured out to Betty’s tea shop for a teacake. An elderly lady made room at her crowded table. In conversation, she remarked: “One of the good things about York is that there aren’t many coloureds.”

Pontefract was quite a change to York. Both had sweet factories, a castle and a racecourse but the Pomfretian tea shops were of a much lesser premium. In 1976 there weren’t that many ‘coloureds’ in Pontefract either. Out shopping in the town centre with myself in the pram and Andrew seated on top, my mother met another friendly stranger who felt moved enough to observe: “People like you are really good to look after these children.”

Unlike Andrew who had the misfortune to be born in soft, cosy, chocolate Florentine-d, lace doilie-d, middle class York, I was born and bred in Ponte. I was proud of the fact. “Where you from?” People would ask. “Ponte”, I would reply in my broadest Pomfretian. “No, I mean where were you born?” Not giving them what they wanted, I’d answer: “At the hospital. You?”

Read the full memoir here.

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Tangled Roots is an Arts Council funded project which records and celebrates the experiences of multi-racial families in Yorkshire.

Contribute your own story or read others by Michelle Scally Clarke, Desiree Reynolds, Adam Lowe, Jane Steele, Emily Midorikawa & Seni Seneviratne by visiting the website tangledroots.org.uk