Hackney Empire

It is a day in  preparation for tomorrow. I attend to admin and stuff,  try to answer emails ofwhich there are tons. I keep forgetting that I have a reading tonight at The Hackney Empire as part of Michael Horovitz Poetry Olympics.  Michael is a wonderful charismatic  man who has a longer history in poetry in London than most poets living today. He must be seventy years of age and  he is bright as a spark. He is the infamous organiser of the 1967 Poetry Olympics at The Albert Hall with Allen Ginsberg and more. 

Five PM before I set off to The Empire on my bike I decide to cook for Aida Omar andHannah who will be returning from the festival at about 8.45pm. If I time it right I could cook the food, leave for my performance and be back in the house to see them eat.

I cook a creamy chicken Masala - I have the perfect masala to which I add star annise. Ialso cook, for The journalist (vegetarian) Chana Masala (chick pea curry if you like). And I prepare and cook a rack of ribs marinated with a lush sticky honey tobasco lemon and tomato home made barbeque sauce. The ribs are cooked marinated with the sticky barbeque sauce and are now waiting to be grilled five minutes each side. The pans are full with the masalas , the rack of ribs are laid out on tin foil and the apartment smells like heaven.  To watch their faces as they arrive back from the festival unwashed and hungry after a weekend in tents and  three hours driving will be worth it all. 

I bike it to the Empire and unlike latitude the event is under promoted and under sold.  There’s about one hundred people in a theatre which fits seven hundred. SEVEN bloody hundred.  It’s one of the best things about being a poet, the variety. With this comes the realisation that a wonderful reading where magic happens is not dependent on numbers but on energy.  The reading is electric and I am only on stage for ten minutes.  

Backstage I catch up with people I know and love – other poets. Jean Binta Breeze FranLandesman,  Michael Horovitz Mamood Jamal and more. We stand on the balcony of The Green Room and while they drink I smoke.  I will stop one day.  The sunlight is dipping and I get a text. “Astounding” it says from the journalist. I get another text from Aida. I love that people loved my food. I get such a kick out of it. They are all at the apartment eating and I am proud as punch. By the time I get back home Aida and Omar have left.  Tomorrow I must be awake at 5am to travel to a funeral three hundred miles away.  

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