Friday, 22 October 2010

Writing Our Legacy - Brighton Black History Month

As part of Black History Month, I was invited to participate in Writing Our Legacy, a Brighton & Hove Black History Month literary showcase held on 21st October 2010, at the Redroaster Coffee House, St James Street, Brighton.

It was a real privilege to take part in this fabulous event, well attended by over 70 people, which showcased a dynamic mix of poetry, prose, dance, music, arts and literary greatness.

I met key people: volunteers on the Black History Month project part of Brighton & Hove Black History project the Positive Hair Day project and the Mosaic project a Black & Mixed Parentage Family Group.

More importantly, I received 5-star treatment from the Black History Month organisers, namely Amy Riley, who came across my anthology, Hair Power Skin Revolution, on while searching for authors to read at the event; Bert Williams, Chair of the Black History Month project, who met me at Brighton station and gave me a quick tour and information guide of the very important and impressive Black History Month project, which continues to develop on a daily basis all year round; Sarah Lee, who set up the Positive Hair Day project, Edi Mandala, our MC for the night, and Tony the DJ who took care of the sound/mic checks, and Kat who took the photos above.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I was treated to a pre-show meal with the Black History Month crew, at Sing-Tong Thai Cuisine, above the Pond Pub in Gloucester Road, where I ate the most delicious food that I had to find the chef and pay him my compliments!

The showcase line-up was impressive and included Margaret Busby OBE, Woodrow Phoenix, Monica Akila, Rounke Williams, Uschi Gatward, Spliff Richards, Ed Siegle with short readings from the Positive Hair Day project.

I read extracts from Hair Power Skin Revolution’s Introduction: The Journey So Far, extracts from Our Crowning Glory, a hair essay by Dr Valerie Mason-John and my hair poem, My Hair and judging by the loud applause and feedback received during the interval from such a conscious, cultured and appreciative audience, I just know that I’ll be visiting Brighton again very soon!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Hair Power Skin Revolution - Millfield Arts Centre

As part of Black History Month, I was invited to host a Hair Power Skin Revolution book reading event on 13th October 2010 at Millfield Arts Centre based in Edmonton, North London. The event was well attended by over 80 people and two contributors read their hair story and performed a poem and I read extracts from my hair story and personal essay.

The audience participation was particularly encouraging and interactive with thought-provoking and inspiring questions being raised about the issues of hair and skin. Natural hair tips were discussed and shared and the discussion about the increasing use of skin lightening creams within the Black (and Asian) community here and in the Caribbean was informative and enlightening. (The above collage was displayed).

The line up went as follows:
Nicole Moore read extracts from The Journey So Far: An Introduction.
Daniella Blechner performed her poem Hair We Are accompanied by Amelia Parillon.
A short film, Hair We Are, made by Daniella Blechner, was screened: a poetry based comedy that follows two young girls who explore their black identity through hair.
Colette Machado read her hair story Naturally Relaxed!
Nicole Moore read extracts from a personal essay from the skin section, Are You Black or White?

Many thanks to the contributors who made the evening a great success. And of course, many thanks to the Millfields Arts Centre staff, Paul Everitt, Arts Centre Manager and Nick Coult, Customer Services Team Supervisor, who supported the event in a professional and helpful way. The venue, Millfield Cabaret, is a lovely space and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting the event there and hope to be back again sometime soon!

Photos in ascending order:
Group photo:
L to R: Colette Machado, Nicole Moore, Daniella Blechner & Amelia Parillon
Daniella Blechner & Amelia Parillon
Colette Machado
Skin-lightening cream adverts

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Natural Lounge Meet Up - 4th Book Reading

What a great start to the month. Today, I was invited to read extracts from my book Hair Power Skin Revolution at The Natural Lounge Meet Up at the Traffic Bar in Holborn, London. This is the 4th book reading that has been held. I talked about how the idea for the book evolved from a Black History Month project in October 2008, where I collected and edited black women's Africentric natural hair stories to post on a new Hair Stories Blog I read my hair story, A Journey to Natural Hair and ended with a poem Settling In from Louisa Adjoa-Parker, one of the book's contributors.

The agenda included an official welcome from Jennifer Jumbe of Big Idea's Networking, who also hosted the event. Girl in a Thunderbolt, performed two of her latest tracks from her new album Seven Sisters.

After the break, Michelle Olorunda gave a talk, Caring for your Hair - The Natural Way with Naturally Nubian who also has a popular You Tube Natural channel
The event was well attended by over 100 people, which generated alot of inspiring and thought-provoking debate, including Natural Hair in the workplace, which focused on one of the main reasons why people don't want to go natural is because they are afraid it is perceived as not professional for the work place. I felt that most of the commentary was positive in that women shared that often it was other black women who questioned their decision to go natural and that in most cases, natural hair is embraced rather than frowned upon.

Thanks must go to Angel Smith who set up the natural lounge website and organised the event. I'd also like to thank Anduosjahla James-Wheatle, one of the book's contributors, for her support by accompanying me and taking the photos posted above.