1. You’ve recently been working with the Vine Project a charity that supports vulnerable children in South Africa-what prompted you to get involved?
After hearing Sonia McCann’s stories and the great effort she puts into the charity, I felt I wanted to be a part of the Vine Project. Through no fault of their own children had been orphaned from parents who have died from AIDS. I listened to first hand stories of these children particularly one group of siblings who had buried five members of his family, covering three generations, in the garden. The Vine Project works totally hands on with Sonia and Pat going over to South Africa, paying out of their own pocket, to spend time with the children they sponsor. The charity raises most of its funds in the UK – 100% goes directly to the children in the form of vouchers. This pays for their education, school uniforms, meals, and travel. The Vine Project is the Surrogate Mother to the children. They work with the townships deal with the bureaucrats and meet up with the grandparents.
After spending time with Sonia, I knew I could do something for the charity. I felt the children’s sorrows their loss of a love one. I wanted to make a difference in their lives.
2. How did you approach the subject matter when creating your collection of poems?
First, I researched the charity, wrote down the personal history and listened to the way the stories where told, so I could envision the emotions of the child and incorporate the journey they were about to embark on. Second, I took the key elements focused on the importance of the orphaned children and what the public needed to know.
3. What has been your personal highlight of working with the Vine Project?
– Learning about the Zulu children and how the organisation functions in South Africa and the UK
– How the Vine Project has changed the lives of young children through education – college and university.
– Seeing the Zulu art work and poetry side by side was incredible.
– Working through the stories using facts – with metaphors – brought unexpected emotions to the surface, tears, anxiousness, but at the same time my confidence grew. At the completion of each poem the stories started to unfold having their own identity, five poems becoming one complete story of the Vine Project.
4. You are a member of the Mixed Tape Tales collective, how have you found this experience?
It was fantastic working with high quality talented poets of mixed heritage who shared their passions, experiences and most inner thoughts with everyone. Diversity allowed us to think out of the box, bringing a unique art form to creative writing. It was interesting to learn how other people interpret their own experiences compared to mine. What was significant for me was the end result – performing with everyone at Chapter One Books Manchester.
5. What does the future hold for you in your writing career?
– Commission work on going.
– Mixed race poetry pamphlet for children and adults with drawings, to be published later in the year
– Guest Performances
6. Where can we find your work?
The poetry connected to the Vine Project comes in packs of five notelets which can be brought from me at firstname.lastname@example.org for £3, all the proceeds go to the charity or you can contact Sonia McCann through her website. We will be doing events in the coming months which will be posted on the website and Facebook.
Resident poet for Didsbury Good Neighbours charity at The Holt Pavilion Didsbury Park M20 6WH. Walk in and view my poetry display on the wall. Also in Didsbury Library in the village.
Black Life’s Matter 2015
Sweet tongues crocus book of food poems 2013
Hair-A journey into the Afro & Asian Experience 2006
Rain Dog contemporary poetry
7. Describe your writing journey in three words
Identity, character & dialogue