Stop right there. The blog has been public for 10 minutes and your responses have been generous and kind. This one touched me because anything I say about my losses (in the ensuing blog post) pale against the loss of a wedding.
Okay so below is the post that I originally put up starting with Jamie MacMillan’s photo.
May was set to be the most exciting month of my thirty year career. More exciting than my book launch last year. Here are the three reasons why. (photo by Jamie MacMillan)
Firstly, this weekend was to be the launch of Brighton Festival. The city would have been garlanded with posters and flags such as this one. Hotels would have been packed and the streets buzzing with that festival vibe. There were over 150 events scheduled to take place across the region with 17 premieres, exclusive commissions and co-productions and many debuts from international artists. Great Ethiopian artists would’ve been there. such as Mulatu Astatke, Samuel Yirga and Maaza Mengiste.
I was the guest director. A world-class team of Arts Producers at The Brighton Festival brought it all together. The programme was printed! We were ready to go. Hundreds of tickets had already been bought for my event at The Brighton Dome, thousands for other events at The Festival. I was about to launch a national project at Brighton festival called “Adopt A Nation”. I was all set to spend an ocean-lined summer in the city with a sea view from my room at The Artist’s Residence in Regency Square. It’s all gone. Now on to the Second disappearing project. Let’s talk Alan Yentob, the most connected man in the Arts in Britain.
“Imagine” is the most respected arts programme in British broadcasting. John O’Rouke (director) and Alan Yentob (presenter) and Tanya Hudson (producer) have been making an Imagine documentary on me. I took this sneaky photo (below) in the edit suite in Soho. I could be in trouble for posting it.
The 65 minute documentary film will be broadcast on BBC featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Steve Coogan Julie Hesmondhalgh, Henry Normal Tony Wilson and many more. It was filmed in England and Ethiopia and I understand it was due out in the middle of May, just as the festival was at its hottest.It will come out but I don’t know when.
Thirdly the paperback of My name Is Why was supposed to be coming out this month . I received a copy just three days ago so this is an exclusive peep at the inside cover.
It is now due on July 2nd. Depending on stuff. All events for the tour of the paperback have been cancelled or postponed, like beloved Dublin, Galway, Addis, Manchester, London and many more. All gone. Like a Birthday cake tumbling through the air that lands face down on the stone cold kitchen floor, the party’s over.
We are in hurricane Corona. But if you are in good health and if you can manage financially then you are not. It is raging around you. People are being lifted off the ground and thrown into the sky, houses are being smashed to pieces and scattered in the airborne maelstrom. If you are in good health and if you have a home you re in the eerie eye of the storm but you are not IN the storm. You have a fish eye view of the catastrophic madness swirling around you. Like me, you are very very lucky.
This month was a big one for me but the festival will return, the book will come out and the film will be broadcast. All in their own time. It was ever thus. I can afford the financial loss (hurt as it may) and I have a home. In many ways I am in a kind of ramadan, or lent, fasting from over indulgence.. I write my blog for my memory as a point of record in lieu of family. Stay safe.
On. final note I am judging a poetry competition for the men in prison at Strangeways in Manchester. The reason prisoners can create extraordinary art and poetry is because there is no lockdown in the imagination. The term lockdown comes from prisons. It is a term we are using to describe the present stay home situation. My words for Brighton Festival bode well for Lockdown.
Addendum: Here are the names of the incredible workers at Brighton Festival.
Beth Burgess – Festival Executive Producer: Lemn’s Main contact for Festival Producing.
Sally Scott – Festival producer – Theatre, Outdoor, Our Place
Philippa Barr – Festival producer – Theatre, Dance
Slavka Jovanovic – Festival producer – Family and Participation
Gill Kay – Freelance Festival Producer – Classical Music
Nii Parkes – Freelance Festival Producer – Literature
Rosie Crane – Freelance Festival Producer – Comedy, Theatre, Dance
Hilary Cooke – Freelance Festival Producer – Young Literature
Danni Colgan – Freelance Festival Producer – Contemporary Music
Sally Cowing – Freelance Festival Associate Producer – International
Tim Brown – Free Lance Curator for Film
Dan Lake – Outdoor Production Manager
Andy Furneaux – External venue Production Manager