My Mother died in 1995. I was very young.
Months later, I sat in a classroom trying to describe the scene. My first attempt at independent creative writing.
Fast Forward to May, 2008. I’m in London, reaching for my vibrating phone. The message pops up on the screen before fading into the background: Yahoo Email. Anjum Malik. Usual niceties. Point: Poetry Reading in Rochdale. Pete said you dabble. Interested?
This is the second thing I learnt about writing – Never take the reader where they want to go. As a beginner, I’ve found it easier to achieve this by engaging two protagonists. Two interweaving stories that cut each other off.
I reply the email: Delighted to be invited. Accepted.
I know a fair few of Manchester’s poets. After a BrothaTalk event one evening at Contact, Segun Lee French signed my book ‘Gift. The world awaits you on the stage! Segun’
I smiled. Thanked him. Niceties.
The problem is and always was my stutter. All stories must have this: the Hero's quest & the Heroe's obstacles.
Written warning to Anjum: I’ve never performed/read my erm, poetry before. Translation: You caught me at a strong moment. I’m accepting your offer now but I’m likely to cancel later. I’m afraid. I’m – the phone vibrates. You’ll be fine.
I’m afraid I’ll get arrested by my stutter and dragged off to prison before the audience. I’ll start sweating and I’ll smell. I might hit out at the audience.
The event date is unclear. This pleases me. It spells the ultimate cop-out. Eventually, it’s set for 12 July. My Mother’s birthday.
I don’t believe in accidents. Is her birthday the birth date of my life as a poet? Wait till next time, as I take into my first four poetry performances.

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