The action of an artist in residence is, in part, of being present: At 11am this morning I meet Fatheidi Saudi to discuss exiled writers ink at the Royal Festival Hall Cafe. Fatheidi gave me two Exiled Writers Ink magazines in which a poem by celebrated Palestinian writer Mahmoud Darwish who died earlier this year. “Who am I without Exile” begins
“A Stranger on the river bank, like the river….water
Binds me to your name .Nothing brings me back from
There is something of loss in exile and something exiled in loss. We finish our meeting and Double Bass player Gary Crosby OBE walks over to touch bass. At noon I Lucy Macnab joins us and we walk over to my office at The Riverside Rooms to talk projects. At 1.30pm I meet with the talented Riz Ahmed to discuss theatre and particular his amazing work in progress I saw at Saddlers Wells Theatre last week. Riz is an emerging artist in residence here at
Southbank centre. At three PM we say goodbye. I sit at my office and try to finish a three thousand word article and various other things. 7pm comes quickly.
At 7.30pm I attended The Adrian Mitchell Celebration at The Queen Elizabeth Hall: the poets on stage included Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Brian Patten Roger McGough, Michael Rosen, Jackie Kay, Patience Agbabi, John Agard, John Hegley and many more authors and actors. The music was by Pete Moser whom I helped create A Long Walk, not that you would know it from his website. I have never taken him up on this. Whatever. The audience pour into the QEH like incoming tide on the bay.
Nine hundred of them and the atmosphere is great as Michael Rosen kicks off the evening with style. At the end of the first half author John berger walks to the stage. Two writers died this year he tells us, Adrian Mitchell was one and Mahmoud Darwish the other. Then he read a poem by Mahmoud Darwish as if it were a message to Adrian. There is something of Loss in the the exiled and something exiled in loss .