On August 23, I was one of the performers in the London Poetry Festival organised by the Poet's Letter Magazine. The man behind the magazine and the event, is Munayem Mayenin (seen onstage in one of these photos with musician Johnny Vallon). The event was at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in Gower Street, London. I came out of Goodge Street Station and rain was pounding down. My small umbrella was no protection in the torrent, and I later took my turn on the stage at RADA during the Second Session of readings, still drying out from the rain. I read 4 poems, and got a very good reaction to my 'anti Blair' poem, Election Day.
My friend Nnorom Azuonye was supposed to be on the programme but was unavoidably absent. The chance meeting with another Nigerian writer I'd had some correspondence with in the past, was an unexpected bonus. Toks Ogunbiyi (in red shirt) has written some social commentary on Nigeria World and had come out on a rainy night to soak in some poetry - and found I was on the programme. It was nice, to finally put faces to our names. There was good camaraderie on the night, with many others on the British poetry scene, some of whom I knew by reputation, including Malgorzata Kitowski and Roi Kwabena.
Leanne O'Sullivan, one of the youngest poets published by Bloodaxe (a major poetry publisher in Britain) - was a memorable performer on the night. Asked how she would like to be introduced, O'Sullivan reportedly said: "as an Irish poet". And Ireland runs deep in her poetry, much of which uses myths of the country and her people to explore issues including Catholicism. She was enchanting and the way her red hair lit up under the RADA stage lights - was something to see. I was very pleased when she told me later, that she saw a connection between some of her work and my poem Incantation, which I also performed at the event.
Carole Baldock, a poet and editor one of whose magazines Orbis, I read regularly, was also on the programme. I was pleasantly surprised to hear her name called and later listen to her read, as I'd not known she would be there. I meant to go and introduce myself to her after the event; I would really have to find a way to explain who I was, I thought, as I didn't think she'd know about me. I never got the chance to meet her, until I had to leave. But when my latest copy of Orbis (edition no. 137) arrived in the post a week ago, I was really touched, to see that Carole Baldock had included a little sticky note, to say: "Nice to hear you read at RADA last month."
- Images by MW