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. Iâ€™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 â€“ Never take the reader where they want to go. As a beginner, Iâ€™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 Manchesterâ€™s poets. After a BrothaTalk event one evening at Contact, Segun Lee French signed my book â€˜Gift. The world awaits you on the stage! Segunâ€™
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: Iâ€™ve never performed/read my erm, poetry before. Translation: You caught me at a strong moment. Iâ€™m accepting your offer now but Iâ€™m likely to cancel later. Iâ€™m afraid. Iâ€™m â€“ the phone vibrates. Youâ€™ll be fine.
Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™ll get arrested by my stutter and dragged off to prison before the audience. Iâ€™ll start sweating and Iâ€™ll smell. I might hit out at the audience.
The event date is unclear. This pleases me. It spells the ultimate cop-out. Eventually, itâ€™s set for 12 July. My Motherâ€™s birthday.
I donâ€™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.