In The Middle of a Love Donut
I wake this morning 7am in my hotel in Calgary to the invasive shout of my mobile telephone. Must answer it. “Hi, It’s Robyn Hunter from theBBC world service and I’d like to talk about your childhood.” Considering I had been riding a wild elk through the snowcapped forests of Canada , aka Indiana Jones, and considering I was being chased by a a herd of angry (but comical) pygmies and considering Halle Berry was clinging to my waist I did good by saying “Um Okay”.
A week or so ago I was interviewed by BBC World Service about the alleged adoption by Madonna of a Malawian child. Having some knowledge of the subject I did the interview by phone down the line from Phoenix to Bush House (World Service HQ) in London and from there it was broadcast to the world.But now it was time for Robyn Hunter to explore my story further for the World Services excellent web pages. I have put the page at the end of this article. Check it out. No sooner had I put the phone down than it was time to get ready for the stage. My bed, imagine sleeping on a warm marshmallow, was calling me. The pillows seemed flirty “come to bed darling”. I walked into the bathroom banged my head on the shower anddressed thus: FUBU boxers True religion jeans, Tommy Hilfiger jumper, Ted Baker socks, Nike Air Force One sneakers. Splash of Allure,Ouch. Scarf and CalvinKlein Gloves. I have never ever ever listed what I wear. But it’s a blog so, go figure. The truth is that whatever you wear when you are going to stand on stage you mustmake an effort – even if it is an effort to look scruffy – it’s all good – butmake an effort.
By 9.30am I’m on stage in the packed Vertigo Theatre of Calgary Tower. Calgarytower is 525 feet high. The lights are on, the introduction has been given by a fun and articulate Mexican academic woman, the sponsors have been thanked “for making this event possible and now ladies and gentlemen….” At this point I am back stage doing an impression of a mime artist locked in an invisible box. “now ladies and gentlemen it is ourproud honour to introduce” At this point I am chewing my nails stretching my legs and exercising my mouth doing a good impression of someone who should bee locked in an invisible box “ all the way from LondonEngland Mr LemnSissay”.
And there’s the applause – and it’s time to begin, I walk into the spotlight. My job is to inspire and be inspired. On the one hand I have them falling off their seats in rapturouslaughter and on the other hand you can hear a pin drop as a poem weaves itselfinto their minds. It’s an electric reading. The books sell out and finally at about 12 noon after signing t shirts and bookmarks and books and arms, all is quiet. I leave. A gustof bracing air gushes around the foot of the tower like packs of excited children.
“He’s there” someone screams and before I know it there's an hundred students circling me, like pygmies. I am in the middle of a love donut. One young male student asks “can I have a hug”. I check with the teacher if this is okay. “This is Canada” she says. And right there and right then I decide, after a hug, that it is time to read them a poem out on the street with the traffic noise and the passers by, right there in the middle of downtown amongst the suites, and the Starbucks coffee carrying office workers – this after all is were poetry should be. Right here, right now. And maybe the wind will carry the poem to the top of Calgary Tower and explode it into thousands of invisible pieces and maybe the revolving restaurant at the top there will fan the poems all over this city.
So in the sun dial shadow of the Calgary Tower I read them a poem. They applaud, take pictures with their cameras and before leaving I tell them “the performer and the audience are one. Neither is better and both give their all. And if you enjoyed the reading, thank your teachers cause they brought you here”. You can feel and almost touch the electricity in the air as their circle opens and they wave goodbye. This is my last reading in Calgary as I am off to a theatre in the mountains in a city called Banff. I curl my scarf around myneck turn and cross the road into the bustle of the next street and their applause is replaced by the footsteps of the lunchtime crowd and the gentle ringing of the church bells..The article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6044294.stm