Strangers On The Riverbank

The action of an artist in residence  is,  in part,  of being present:  At 11am this morning I meet Fatheidi Saudi  to discuss exiled writers ink at the Royal Festival Hall Cafe. Fatheidi  gave me two Exiled Writers Ink  magazines in which a poem  by celebrated Palestinian writer  Mahmoud Darwish  who died earlier this year. “Who am I without Exile”  begins

“A Stranger on the river bank, like the river....water

Binds me to your name .Nothing brings me back from

My faraway”

There is something of loss in exile and  something exiled in loss.   We finish our meeting and Double Bass player Gary Crosby OBE walks over to touch bass.   At noon I Lucy Macnab  joins us and we walk over to my office at The Riverside Rooms to talk projects.    At 1.30pm I meet with  the  talented  Riz Ahmed  to discuss theatre and particular his amazing work in progress I saw at Saddlers Wells Theatre  last week.  Riz is an emerging artist in residence here atSouthbank centre.   At  three PM we say goodbye.   I sit at my office and try to finish a three thousand  word article and  various other things. 7pm comes quickly.

At 7.30pm I attended The Adrian Mitchell Celebration at The Queen Elizabeth Hall: the poets on stage  included Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Brian Patten Roger McGough, Michael Rosen, Jackie Kay, Patience Agbabi,  John Agard,  John Hegley and many more authors and actors. The music was by Pete Moser whom I helped create A Long Walk,  not that you would know it from his  website.  I have never taken him up on this.  Whatever.  The audience pour into the QEH  like incoming tide on the bay.

Nine hundred of them  and the atmosphere is  great as Michael Rosen kicks off the evening with style.    At the end of the first half author John berger walks to the stage.   Two writers died this year  he tells us,  Adrian Mitchell was one  and Mahmoud  Darwish the other.   Then he read a poem by Mahmoud Darwish as if it were a message to Adrian. There is something of Loss in the the exiled  and something exiled in loss .

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