“I was inspired to write at the age of 14, Coming home from school one day, I turned on the telly and saw the Ethiopian famine in 1984, such images where rarely broadcast on T.V and the only other images I had seen that reminded me of this were of the holocaust and the concentration camps. As a mixed race adopted child I identified with the Ethiopian people and needed to do or say something. I didn’t know at the time that it was a poem as such it was just the feelings and emotions I was putting on the page. It was only when I showed it to my adopted parents and saw their reaction that I knew it was good and I had expressed my self in a way that I hadn’t before. As a child growing in care and adopted at the age of seven I often struggled to express myself in a world ruled by black and white, right and wrong.. Tradition, would find myself feeling like an outsider in a world where everyone seemed better then me. My adopted Father would encourage me to write down my feelings instead of taking my rage out on my self, family or at school.
I didn’t show my work till I was 27, I didn’t own my voice and being mixed race , adopted , single mother ,then living back in the community and working as a multi-cultural book consultant with Lewis Barker at “positive images” allowed me to build up a confidence and love for words , story history, and truth that was innate inside of me
This is my vocation.. I used to wake up in the middle of the night so scared that I wasn’t doing what I was meant to be..
In 1997 I met Patricia Jones the leading poet in Chapeltown, she had already been published and invited me to enter a competition that “community links” and “10-2 club” run by Claude Hendrickson, I submitted my poem and came second to a 13 year old girl.. I was gutted!!!
However un be known to me the arts council where at that first reading Jane Stubbs and Steve Deardon and guided me to “CUFF DEM” and the warmth I received from these artists stays with me today.
After that I was lucky to be given many mentors, from Geraldine’ O’Conner, Linton kewsi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jean Binta Breeze, Ella Andell, Royal blood, Richard Bostock, Armani Naphtali, Joe Williams, Brian pattern, Lemn sissay, just to mention a few
My life became a rich tapestry and books and albums followed.
I write to express, to listen to myself, I write to own my own truth, I write to thank, I write when I feel, joy, pain, sadness hope, rage or happiness. I realised very early on in my writing that the emotions of humans are what truly make us one. If I was brave enough to speak or sing my truth then others responded with theirs, this changed my world /my story. I was able to finally see the world in colour, rather then black or white, right or wrong. There is rhythm in expressing your own truth.
The people who put me down, motivated me. There is a insecurity in belittling people, so now -a days I feel sorry for them and hope they find their gift or talent/vocation as I have.
There is a certain buzz when you meet these people after a show and they apologize. This has happened more then a few times in my career and it leads me to believe in and find faith in my chosen path.
My words of advice to any budding poets or writers is to own your own voice. Do not be afraid to set your self new goals, do not be afraid of getting it wrong because that’s when you learn the most about yourself and your voice. Do not compare yourself to anyone you think is better then you, rather compare yourself with people who are not as fortunate and feel the gratified that there is only one of you. You, your words, your thoughts are unique. Your uniqueness is your success. I work/ teach and facilitate writing groups, with people aged from 7 to 95… my workshops vary from day to day project, commission or spec
Each new writer, has the journey of owning their own work, their own voice, rhyme and pattern of becoming and individual and unique for themselves and the audiences..
There is no right or wrong in art. For in our mistakes we often learn more
My favorite poems are “and still I rise” by Maya Angelou and “Angel wings” by Brian Patten. These poems both moved me to tears when I heard them performed and changed me, gave me life lessons of which I still I use today. Both these poets are storytellers and their truth and beauty leaves me breathless.
My favorite poems help and inspire me to carry on regardless. The love of my adoptive family and my children, makes me want to be a better person, also the great mentors I have been given on my journey make it impossible for me to ever give up. Maya Angelou through her books and poetry made me realize that life is just a story. If we own our own story that we can write our own pages. One day I will be an ancestor, and I hope my shoulders are big enough for many to stand on.
Each performance is the greatest one I’ve done, till the next one… even if I get it wrong, as it has taught me something, your only as good as your last performance.
Last thing, I am dyslexic so even though it takes me longer to get my words down it does not stop me. If you find joy in reading, writing, poetry or acting then continue because it will become your best friend and your jealous partner!
There is no such thing as boredom in an artist soul. There is always something to write, create, and let go
I have an inner peace today, at the age of 44, that I never thought possible. My career has enabled my children to become themselves and self- motivated. My daughter graduated from Manchester and was head hunted straight into a job, My son is the only British person to receive a full scholarship, M.A in fine Art, from Yale university in America and gradates in May My career has led me to met some of the world’s most beautiful people/children. My career has taught me to love myself and see the greatness in others. Life is not measured by how much money you make but by the changes you make to others, to feel that flow allows me to live not just exist.
My future looks amazing. I have not stopped working since my children flew the nest, and am able to put in the work and time to my craft that I have not been able to do before
At the moment I am writing two new scripts (very big and under wraps!!), am teaching and working
Performing and creating with a new band, new chorographer’s
My most recent publication was in 2013.
My story has many pages and I am enjoying the chapters of life,
This is who I am, this is what I am,
I walk as a women and talk with a pen.”
Many thanks to Michelle Scally Clarke for her time and effort to the community and for giving us at Community Highlights the opportunity to publish this article.