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I haven’t the words to explain what this day meant to me, how I feel about everyone who was a part of it and the wonder that unravelled, but for now here’s a teeny snippet of one of the most magical moments of my life so far. The Singing My Mother’s Song Book Launch
During the research for Singing My Mother’s Song, I found my mum’s cousins. Mum hadn’t seen them since she was seven, she is seventy five this year.
Last night at a gig in Plymouth and my first ever reading from Singing My Mother’s Song, this glorious gal came to watch. We had never met before. She’s the granddaughter of my mum’s cousins...my second cousin once removed. And she is funny, and kind, and clever and brilliant and I didn’t want to let her go.
They arrived late last night and I went to sleep holding one against my chest.
After carrying it inside for so long it’s such a beautifully strange thing to see it published.
Singing My Mother’s Song is real, it is alive and it is ready
Today I spent the day with my mama. We went to a local festival, she had half a beer (I have honestly never seen her drink a beer in my life) and we poured our feelings out about the release of Singing My Mother’s Song.
I can barely believe it has been two years in the making, so many hours dreaming it into form and it’s out next week.
We are both nervous, excited and feel like something has been lifted from within and set free to fly.
If you feel so moved, you can pre order a copy here:
This is an illustration of my Great Grandfather, in response to my poem 'Time is a Strange Feeling.'
I never knew him, so this is how he looks to me- surrounded by numerals and cogs, pulling time backwards and forwards.
During the research for 'Singing My Mother's Song,' I discovered that later in life he owned three businesses where he would make and repair clocks. I even tracked down a Grandfather Clock he had donated to his local council.
I'm so grateful for artist collaboration. Working with Anna Higgie has meant so many things have come back to life in the form of images. People continue, through memory, in the pictures we create, through the stories we tell.
This image and accompanying poem are from my third collection, 'Singing My Mother's Song', published by Burning Eye Books and out so very very soon.
This beautiful illustration is of Montpellier, Bristol.
It’s created by the almighty Anna Higgie as a response to one of my poems and features in the up and coming collection.
This place means the earth to me. It holds memory and moments that span so many years-both those of my own and of my families. It is a place where dreams live.
This week I travelled up to London for three days rehearsing with the almighty Dominie Hooper. Dominie and I have been friends for years. We have been on creative retreats together, staying in a Cornish Cottage, locking the doors and making all kinds of poetry music fusions. We have also cried, laughed and done everything in-between. When I first heard Dominie’s voice I felt like I had been kicked and kissed all at once. Alongside her amazing voice, Dominie also plays guitar, cello, loop station, and the shaky egg.
We rehearsed in this amazing space overlooking the city, ate banana pancakes and just got down to it.
I am so very proud with what has unravelled between us. She really has brought a whole new dimension to the writing of Singing My Mother’s Song, a beautiful marriage of sound, that means we can bring you a poetic story full of beauty, pain and celebration.
The launch of Singing My Mother’s Song will be in Bristol on the afternoon of 22nd June. After that we will be touring around the U.K. Please get in touch to book this thirty minute poetry/musical experience.
The glorious poet Toni Stuart will be reading the Singing My Mother's Song commissioned piece, ‘The Girl Who Walked Through Walls', as well as two of my very own poems from the up and coming Singing My Mother's Song collection.
If you are that side of the globe, go check her in Cape Town on 4th May- at Singing Our Mothers’ Songs. I adore how these stories and celebrations span time, space and oceans.
It has been such an honour to work with so many amazing artists and ideas on Singing My Mother's Song.
In Cape Town, South Africa, Malika Ndlovu and Toni Stuart where commissioned to write in response to some of the themes explored in SMMS.
In Jo-burg, dancers Yana Fay Dzedze and Nyaniso Dzedze choreographed dance pieces to accompany the poems and then my dear friend and boss filmmaker Jim Demuth arrived to capture it all. I have known Jim since I was seventeen, we explored Italy and Croatia together. Jumped in waterfalls, shot espresso and swam in the most transparent waters.
Last night I got into my good friend Pablo Villierezz's studio in Bristol. I have also been to Pablo's family home in Mexico City. Pablo recorded me reading two poems from Singing My Mother's Song, ready for Jim the filmmaker now working and living in China, to marry them with the footage of the dancers in South Africa.
Yes to cross collaborative work
Yes to connecting artists and voices across oceans
Yes to learning from each other's world
Yes. To. Unity
This is Anna Higgie.
Anna illustrated my last two books and is currently working on the up n coming ‘Singing My Mother’s Song,’ published by Burning Eye Books, June of this year. 🤸🏽♀️
We spent half the morning looking through each poem and story, discussing what would be the best fusion of words and imagery, how each drawing could add a whole new layer and meaning to the language, another route for the reader to unravel and enter the narrative from. How equally blank space is vital in the telling of something, the gaps, the silences, the lack of, can speak, can offer such an important story.
The other half was spent making her take moody selfies with me
An interview for Together & Sunspell. I had to really sell the content of my inner psyche for this one and answer so many musings... including the motivation behind Singing My Mother's Song, my most most vivd childhood memory, describing a morning I woke without fear and what are the consequences of silence. I don't think I've ever enjoyed being questioned as much as I did for this.
It has been just over a year since I received funding from the Arts Council to begin the journey of Singing My Mother’s Song.
I have researched, questioned, picked apart and put together again. It has taken me to South Africa, to places in my family narrative that have been kept quiet for so long. I have woken up my ancestors, looked both behind and affront, so to make sense of now.
I have spent the past six months writing up this yearning. Creating poems and stories, trying to put all these facts, all this imagination and dreaming onto the page.
Today the day came, where I submitted the manuscript to my publisher! The labour has been done. Singing My Mother’s Song has officially been set free.
And here we are, the glorious Bridget Hart and I from the Burning Eye team, celebrating all things creative. Celebrating all things birthed.
The collection will be out in June 2019
It’s been a while since I shared about the progression of this book, mostly because the past six months I have been creating it.
A week ago I sent a copy of ‘Singing My Mother’s Song’ to my family for approval. I wouldn’t normally do this, but as the content of this collection is so deeply personal to them, it felt important.
The most important person is my mother though. It’s her story after all. Her longings and loses, her discoveries and gains. And I have been a nail biting version of myself this past week, waiting to hear back from her.
Today she sent a message saying she had finished reading and wholly celebrates its being. And my heart fills fit enough to explode.
Three more weeks of editing and I will be submitting it to the publisher on December the 1st.
In the mean time. Here is her hand. Here are my words.
I taught my first Singing My Mother's Song Poetry Workshop this Weekend at Tribe of Doris Festival, here in the U.K
The workshop included a ritual and ceremony in which we called in someone who had passed, this person could have been known by us or someone we knew of.
We then created poetry, around the theme of journeys,informed and inspired by this person, by what is real and what is imagined.
It was so very moving, so opening, so very very special.
‘My mother’s song at some point in history was All Things Bright and Beautiful, or Kumbaya or Cross Over The Road My Friend. It would have been her sat at the piano, in the hall of my primary school, playing hymns while the children sang. It was always a weird thing having her as a teacher at my school, because I was naughty.
In a white working class area that became a hub for migration, she was a pioneer for changing the curriculum into something multicultural. While she was married to my father, who was Jamaican, she could understand a Jamaican accent, which was a really big thing for some of the parents of the children who had just arrived. She always talked about his one woman who cried in the classroom during the 1960’s because my mum was the first teacher to understand her.’
- Hannah Lowe, London, Poet
Just arrived to The Hurst, for a residential week of writing with the Arvon Foundation. The glorious poet Hannah Lowe is teaching...she’s also doing some editing on my Singing My Mother’s Song manuscript in a couple of months, so I thought it best I learn as much as I can from her...a whole six days, to immerse, create and bring this book into being. Let the words begin
Part of this incredible project led me to the immense Johannesburg, where I was writer in residence at Wits University and I had the pleasure of teaching creative writing workshops to some amazing humans.
Back in the U.K, I’m so excited to be at this year’s, ‘Tribe of Doris Festival’ facilitating a one off, specialised Singing My Mother’s Song Poetry Workshop.
This workshop will look at ancestry and creative writing as a means to express our individual stories.
This is Anna Higgie
Anna is a glorious illustrator who works for loads of really swanky magazines, musicians, writers and such.
We met at Shambala festival and it’s been love ever since.
Anna illustrated my first two books and I am excited to say, she has just finished the front cover for ‘Singing My Mother’s Song.’
It’s stunning. Simple yet so loaded with story. You’ll have to wait to see it though....