The Brtish Council Karachi in collaboration with River Oaks Academy brought together a selection of students and teachers from ten Karachi schools in a venue called PIACC. It’s my first event of this visit to Karachi and it’s valentines day so I begin with a love poem. I explored the idea that poetry is around us all the time. We turn to it in love and anger, in need. For the next hour and an half I am transported. That is what a poetry reading should do. The audience were quick witted and inspiring. As Henry Normal used to say to his audience “You’re going to go far.” In fact the reading was going so well I got off stage and sat in the front row with Barbara Wickham (above). As I read one overtly rhythmic poem the audience broke into syncopated clapping and a standing ovation (right) for which I’m grateful.
And then autographs and photographs. Ever since scratching my name in a tree as a boy I’ll never get bored of signing them and you may get the impression that I like the camera but I’m actually very very shy. There’s no doubt about when you get the chance to do what you do best you feel special. I get more out of it than I give and for this I am grateful.
In the reading I’d said to much appreciation that Harry Potter looks like he is Pakistani. And then I mentioned that Harry Potter was a foster child, and superman too… even Moses. I described superheroes who use all their resources not just to survive with this loss but to live to their fullest with what they have. A teacher shouted out that “Prophet Mohammed was an orphan. His father had died before Muhammad was born and his mother died while he was still very young.” . It was a magical moment for me. It all linked. I’d said at the beginning of the reading that poetry is central (not peripheral) upon our experiences. And here too we identified that the child in care is too. Super, man. So it’s a perfect coincidence that after I read I walked into a room and there was a foster child on the wall but he wasn’t flying as much as we all were.