Good morning good afternoon or good evening wherever you are. Today is World Poetry Day. The sun is rising in London. The days are warmer and longer. In light of the general trend of feeling better this post is a run down of what’s happening in my life at the moment. There’s lots to share including the opportunity to win £500! Spring is here. The gates are opening. Let’s begin
World Poetry Day is my first day as ambassador for Place2Be.Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity with over 25 years’ experience working with pupils, families and staff in UK schools.Place2Be provide mental health support in schools through one-to-one and group counselling using tried and tested methods backed by research. We also offer expert training and professional qualifications.
On a different matter altogether my friend Subrina Kidd has introduced me to the artist Delph. I love his work. The world is his gallery and it’s a better place for it. Follow him on twitter or insta.
2020's been A LOT. I've spent almost every day in the studio since March & staying creative has really helped me get through this challenging time. I give thx for making it to the end of the yr & for the projects that we were able to complete in-between the LD's— Neequaye Dreph Dsane (@dreph) December 28, 2020
We move. pic.twitter.com/BmonZzgQNy
Today is also a good day to announce project I would like you to be involved in. It is part of my artistic directorship of Brighton Festival 2021 which was announced in The Stage (subscription) today. There are over seventy events taking place at the Festival this year. For my project would you “Tell Me Something About Family”? Not right now. All will be explained in the Brighton Festival programme out on 30th March. . The festival begins in May.
The poster below ( by artist and designer Morag Myerscough) with one of my morning poems is up for auction on March 25th. The Museum of The Home are campaigning to change the lives of the many women and families facing homelessness today. They are raising money by holding an auction where you can bid for beautiful items and exclusive experiences from leading UK designers and creatives.
The words in the poster are…Said the sun to the moon
On March 28th on BBC Radio 4 I shall be speaking for Family For Every Child.
On April 7th Jeremy Mogford announces the winner of The Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing. I am a judge with author Mick Herron. The winner will be awarded a cheque for £10,000 . It’s the largest prize for ‘food and drink fiction’ in England. I think.
Throughout March Hans Ulrich Obrist and I meet on zoom each week. We are curating an exhibition for Manchester International Festival. We have invited artists from across the globe. The festival begins in May.
This month I am ‘curating’ a series of talks for Hay Festival. Details will be announced in a few weeks. The series is called “One Year On: The George Floyd series” . The festival begins in May.
News on the children’s book will be released this week via the publisher. Canongate acquires first children’s book from Lemn Sissay. Publishing Director Francis Bickmore acquired world rights to Don’t Ask the Dragon written by Lemn Sissay and illustrated by Greg Stobbs, from Clare Conville at C&W and Arabella Stein at The Bright Agency. Canongate will publish the picture book in hardback in March 2022.”
The illustration below is not from Don’t Ask The Dragon but it’s another glimpse of Greg Stobb’s brilliant work.
And now for the £500. Can you squeeze the universe into 280 characters? TWEET A POEM and you could win a prize of £500. Include the hashtag #micropem21. Creative Manchester, in partnership with the Centre for New Writing at University of Manchester and the Geological Society, is running a Micropoetry competition with £500 to the winner. See rules in link. I am a judge. Go for it. Go Go Go for it. .
On March 10th Olivier Award Winning actress Sharon D Clarke MBE read my poem as part of Words for the Wilderness. The poem is called Colour Blind. It’s the best rendition of the poem and I hope you think so too.
And coincidentally today UNRIC posted the same poem for World Poetry Day.
The Hackney Christmas Dinner video was uploaded on 17th March. There were nineteen Christmas Dinners for care leavers in 2020. We beat the pandemic. This is the work we do.
I am sorry that I haven’t been listing live readings but they will be listed on my website soon. There’ve been many zoom events. Don’t let anyone tell you Zoom is less real. I have been invited into the homes of each audience member and each audiecne member has been invited into mine. It can’t be more real than that.
One of the most powerful projects this last year was Hold Still. Spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. Hold Still is an ambitious community project to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown. “We invited people of all ages to submit a photographic portrait, taken in a six-week period during May and June, Over 31,000 submissions were received from across the country, with entrants ranging from 4 to 75 years-old. From these, a panel of judges chaired by Kate Middleton selected 100 portraits, assessing the images on the emotions and experiences they conveyed.” The exhibition is online. There is a reason I am sharing this info with you now.
I have heard a whisper that there “may” soon be a publication of Hold Still published by The National Portrait Gallery. The photographs are beautiful. This one is by Sarah Lee.
In present times it should be noted that in Hold Still a member of the royal family promotes the differences which make us who we are.
And celebrates them in all their beauty and strength.
I write these posts as a window on my world. There’s no middle man. This is me. This past year has been difficult but spring springs me. Speaking professionally the past two years have been the most successful of my life. But speaking personally I have at times felt unmoored. Over this year we have searched for safe ground and something to hold onto as the earth beneath us shook like never before. In shock we fell into the mirror of ourselves and looked out at the world from behind the glass
We have found ways to contact each other and ways to be in contact with ourselves. We have reached out and reached within. We have zoomed in and we have zoomed out.
A portrait remembers moments in light. Like in the portrait below. The photograph, the portrait, venerates and celebrates the light landing upon them, within them and between them. A portrait discovers people finding themselves….
The focus of Kate Middleton in Hold Still is on community in all it’s complexity and diversity. I witnessed her dedication to representation. I’ll end this post with another photograph from Hold Still. It speaks to the times we have lived through. It could be about the face mask,, about Black Lives matter, about gender equality, about freedom of speech, about childhood memory, about women, about silence, about witnessing, about resilience? It is about us.