For the past two years I’ve been working on a new book of poems. The book is called Kumukanda
which roughly translates from Luvale, my father’s mother tongue, as ‘the initiation’ or just ‘initiation’. It’s the name given to the rites a young Luvale boy passes through before he is considered a man. There are a few resources on the Makishi
, the festival that marks the end of Kumukanda, online. In putting the book together I wanted to think about the rites that immigrants and exiles pass through in the absence of their native culture.
In my own experience, occupying a number of, seemingly mutually exclusive subjectivities (yes, I have been reading Paul Gilroy, what gave me away?) has given me a hybrid sensibility. This is clearest in my musical taste which spans from Dolly Parton to Wookie without irony or apology (listen to ‘Battle
‘ by the latter and ‘Coat of Many Colours
‘ by the former and tell me you’re unmoved). The book is a way of mapping this hybrid sensibility in poems that explore racial classification, literary tradition, the trials and errors of love, bereavement and the history of Garage music.
I have been asked to give a special reading at Library Members’ Club in Covent Garden on March 25th and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to read some new poems from the manuscript in public for the first time. On the evening I’ll be reading the full eleven-part version of my long poem ‘calling a spade a spade’ alongside an alternate take of ‘Passing’ a long poem set in Essex in 2000 when UKG was all over the charts and everybody had lyrics. I might even sneak in some poems from the dedications series in the book which includes: ‘For those who wait till the moment has passed’, ‘For those who mispronounce my name’, and ‘For those orphaned late in life’.
For details of the event, follow the link:
It would be amazing to see you there, if you’re London-based. If not, see you soon. I am in Ireland and, via live-stream, Austin (TX) in April and Sheffield in May.