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

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