Friday, 8 December 2017

My Fro & Me: Hair Stories from Women of Colour

We used Black Dolls, from Diverse, Brixton, London. 'To speak, hold a doll'.
On 28th November 2017, I participated in My Fro & Me: Hair Stories from Women of Colour, a discursive exploration of Afro-textured hair, culture, and identity. The event also explored Eurocentric ideals of beauty on our stage and screens, and discrimination within the context of women and Afro-textured hair. 

Ayesha Casely-Hayford facilitated the event, held at the Cottesloe Room in The Clore Learning Centre at the National Theatre in Southbank, London.

Cottesloe Room, Clore Learning Centre, National Theatre.

The event was a sell-out; over 50 likeminded women of colour, including a sprinkling of white women and men, proved an excellent dynamic for an inspiring and thoughtprovoking discussion.

Readings from Hair Power Skin Revolution included the poems:

'I am my hair' by Fiona Mckinson
'Happy ending' by Zakia Henderson-Brown

For the full details check out Ayesha's insight

For National Theatre publicity information

To read the Guardian article: 
Weaving tales: Barber Shop Chronicles & theatre's wave of black hair shows

Ayesha Casely-Hayford, Martina Laird and Sian Ejiwumniole Le Berre - My Fro  & Me
Ayesha Casely-Hayford's Bio:
Ayesha is an actress and employment solicitor specialising in discrimination. She is an award-winning voice artist and chair of the board of trustees of The Act For Change Project, which campaigns for greater diversity in the live and recorded arts. Ayesha also created 'Afro Archives a Performer's World', a project exploring the experience of women of colour with Afro-textured hair working in the performance industry.

Monday, 6 November 2017

John Cleese on Creativity

Much has been said about how creativity works, its secrets, its origins. In this fun and thought-provoking lecture, John Cleese offers a recipe for creativity, delivered with his usual blend of cultural insight and comedic genius. Specifically, Cleese outlines the 5 factors (listed below) that you can arrange to enhance creativity in your lives.

According to Cleese, creativity can only happen in open (-mind) mode, when you are free from interruptions, distractions, unlike when you're closed (-minded), which is when you are at 'work' busy with phone calls, stuff to do and there is some pressure, anxiety, and tension.

Open mode isn't all - there are 5 important elements required too:

1. SPACE - undisturbed, quiet, where there are no interruptions, phones ringing, emails being answered, etc, which means no TV!

2. TIME - a specific amount of time, at least 1.1/2 hours, which includes say 15-30 minutes for winding down and getting calm - again no TV!

3. TIME - yes more time, once you've created an oasis of calmness, you can tolerate the slight discomfort that you may feel until you solve the assignment/issue creatively and get some work done.

4. CONFIDENCE - so that there are no fears of making a mistake because nothing is wrong so there will be no mistakes. 

5. HUMOUR - this gets us from closed to open mode quicker - laughter helps us to relax and doesn't detract from the seriousness of the 'problem'. So laugh, giggle all you want when being creative.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Born Between the Lines - 4th Book Reading

The theme for my fourth and final book reading is leaving home—a reflective section—at the end of the Socialising chapter. At the age of 21, I had yet another decision to make that would mean returning to the place I had missed for eight years—London.

You can hear my reading taken from the chapter Socialising below:

Friday, 22 September 2017

Born Between the Lines: 3rd Book Reading

The theme for my third book reading is socialising. At the age of 18, I had a decision to make about who I would socialise with and how that would work in a mono-cultural small town called Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire. This reading is one of two. The second one will be posted next week. 

You can hear my reading taken from the chapter 'Socialising' below:

Friday, 15 September 2017

Born Between the Lines: 2nd Book Reading

The theme for my second book reading is work, which most of us have crossed paths with in one way or another. For me, trying to find work as a 16-year-old in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, proved to be both revealing and challenging.  You can hear my reading on the subject of work below:

Friday, 8 September 2017

Born Between The Lines: Book Reading

Today I read 'Where are the black voices of rural and suburban Britain? We need to hear them', by Jesse Bernard online in the Guardian which prompted me to do a reading on Youtube from my autobiography: Born Between The Lines:

The article starts:

'If you're a member of a minority in a rural or suburban area of Britain, there's every likelihood that you will have been made aware of your race in school, in the local supermarket, by your neighbours and perhaps by the local authorities.'

This was certainly the case with my experience as a young mixed-race girl aged thirteen trying to find my way in a new school in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire in the 1960s.

The article ends by stating:

'It's  not about one experience — city or rural — being worse or better than the other. It's about amplifying a wide range of black British voices that exist not only in large, urban areas but also the farthest corners of the country. These are important stories, and if we continue to overlook them, it will damage any attempts to tackle how racism affects our society.'

You can read the whole article here.

If any of the above resonates with you, please do leave a comment. I know there are many unheard voices out there that need to be aired and shared.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Colonial Countryside: English Country Houses Reinterpreted

On 31st July, I joined the Centre for New Writing at University of Leicester as a Literary Associate as part of a new initiative to mobilise child historians to develop new audiences for cutting-edge research about British country houses' Caribbean and East India connections.

This is a child-led history and writing project led by Dr Corinne Fowler at the University of Leicester. The three-year collaborative project entitled, 'Colonial Countryside', will encourage primary pupils aged 10 to engage with country homes with the help of historians and writers. Peepal Tree Press will publish and resource new writing, stimulating widespread interest in this neglected aspect of British history.

You can listen to an interview with Dr Corinne Fowler on Leicester Radio below:

The Centre for New Writing team is kick-starting the initiative by crowdfunding a pilot event with Colmore Junior School in Birmingham, working with Kenwood and Harewood House.

The crowdfunding will pay for 20 children to visit country houses and related archives. It will also fund an historian and a writer, plus pay for a podcast narrated by the children, who will recount their experiences.

Dr Corinne Fowler, Director of the Centre for New Writing said, "Children make great researchers. They ask different sorts of questions to adults. This project will be led by children, who introduce parents, children, teachers, and country house visitors to a wide range of colonial connections. The aim is to encourage children to think of themselves as future leaders and historians in the field."

In the second phase, 100 primary pupils will visit 10 local country houses. They will explore the archives with an historian and work with a writer to produce pithy personal essays which will be communicated to live, print and digital audiences. Peepal Tree Press will also commission 10 high-profile writers to produce new creative work about each of the 10 participating houses. The books will be sold in the bookshops of those houses. The children will attend a conference with panels and keynotes but where only children speak. There will be a child-only advisory board and children will co-produce exhibitions, a massive online open course and they will participate in the training of heritage professionals.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction

The University of Iowa's International Writing Programme is running a free (yes free!) massive open online course (MOOC). Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction will focus on writing about identities, communities, and social issues in fiction and nonfiction.

This MOOC will:

  • Encourage you to write both fiction and nonfiction
  • Encourage you to explore the intersections between the two genres
  • Encourage you to explore the intersections of individual, community, and global identities
  • Encourage you to examine the effect of current social issues on individual, community, and global identities
  • Foreground the principles of short and long-term fiction
  • Foreground the principles of three forms of nonfiction: literary journalism, memoir essay, and personal essay
  • Support your experience of creative and cultural exchange with writers around the world!

Opened: May 15, 2017 - there is still plenty of time to participate.

All I can say is that each week the course continues to blow me away, not just with the quality of the well-established and award-winning writers that share their expertise in the weekly videos but with the excellence of the whole course in the way it has been so well constructed and delivered.

I encourage you to take a look and sign up!


Monday, 20 March 2017

NaPoWriMo 2017

Image from: NaPoWriMo2017 
NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day, totalling 30, for the month of April.

It's been ages since I've written any poems, and I did rise to the challenge in 2013, so I'm going to give this a shot!

So on that note, I'm calling out to all you poets to join me (it can be lonely on your own). Let's get our pens to paper and write those poems.

I'll be posting (or attempting to post) my poems here, so as to keep them all in one place. Do keep in touch and drop by with a comment, or better still share your poem!


Monday, 20 February 2017

Born Between the Lines: Book Launch Update

On the afternoon of 4th February 2017, my latest book, Born Between the Lines was launched. The event was held at Islington Central Library in north London—the area I grew up in as a young child.

I opened the launch by thanking the following people highlighted in the Acknowledgements section of the book:

  • Tania Charles, who has been my writing buddy for the last two years and who has acted as creative consultant, which included editing and proofreading the manuscript;
  • Elaine Miller, who laughed and cried whilst browsing the manuscript and provided valuable support;
  • Linda Beever, who consistently checked in with me on how I was progressing;
  • Natalia Currie, who has always taken an avid interest in my writing projects.
  • Andrew Moore (my son), who with a critical eye helped with the book design.
I also thanked the following:

  • Nicola Greenwood, who has, throughout the years, supported a range of my writing projects and poetry events.
  • Islington Central Library for providing the room and refreshments.

Nicola Greenwood,  Launch Host, (and poet extraordinaire) led the afternoon by providing an inspiring insight into her reflection of the book.  The launch theme was Cultural Connections; excerpt readings from two chapters: Socialising and Discovering Jamaica followed.  

Nicola weaved these questions in between the readings: 

  • What drove and inspired you to write this book?
  • What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
  • What was your favourite part of putting the book together?
  • What message is most important?
  • What do you want your readers to get from the book?
  • What next?

The answers to the above questions are in the following Youtube video:

Thanks to the attendees who came from Berkshire, Dagenham, Kent, London and Watford, which made for a dynamic intercultural dialogue.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

How to get your FREE copy of Born Between the Lines

Like a bargain? You can't go wrong with this offer:

For a limited time only ...

My new autobiography, Born Between the Lines is free from 12th - 15th January on Amazon in kindle edition. Get your FREE copy now!

The book launch will be held on 4th February. Watch this space for more information ...

Happy reading!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

What Are Your Creative Goals for 2017?

Happy New Year!

What are your creative goals for 2017?

Mine are:

  • Launch my new book, Born Between the Lines;
  • Post a series of book related YouTube videos;
  • Write/Publish a New Collection of Personal Essays;
  • Be more consistent with my blog posts;

Need help with your creative goals for 2017? Check out a brilliant Webinar Recording,  Plan To Achieve Your Creative Goals in 2017, by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, which covers:

  • How to take a step back and decide what you really want for your creative life;
  • How to prioritise your To Do list so you stop wasting time;
  • How to calculate the time you need to achieve what you want and how to find that time in your busy schedule;
  • How to create a production schedule for your writing;

One specific tip (there are many) I did take from Joanna's video, that I know is going to be very useful—especially for recording writing ideas—is Evernote, an electronic notebook.

Happy writing for 2017!