Despite mentioning this event on a post ‘Adverts for Events I Cannot Make’ – I did make it and I am so GLAD I did, it was beyond the inspirational, warm evening I had imagined it would be.
Last Friday I celebrated the beginning of my favourite month of the year with a performance at ‘A Night with Maya Angelou’. The event was awesome (in the true sense of the word), left me feeling inspired and full of love and courage. A room full of strong women (and some men) will usually do that to you, but this was more emotive, a celebration of the lady herself, how she had inspired us, many of us in that room met her through books and poems and have felt like we have known her all our lives because of it. I don’t think there was anybody there who had actually met Maya.
I am grateful to Jordan and Shakti Women for giving me the opportunity to perform my Maya Poetry. Apart from a few close poetry friends and the wonderful Lauren Williams (Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate), I knew no one in the restaurant. Yet when I looked up from reading lines in my freshly penned poems I was greeted by smiles and warm faces. There were some great, loud responses to some of the poems, they were all based on Maya Angelou’s wisdom, some of the whooping was for her.
I am currently on the road to producing a pamphlet and am definitely going to place at least one or two Maya poems in there. People are regularly asking me now where they can find my work and I would love to be able to produce a copy and just say ‘Here’.
The whole evening was a phenomenal success, not just because of great organisation, clear communication, strength, faith and belief, nor because of the great collective of performers and talent exposed to a room full of people, nor because the restaurant was filled with support, loving, creative, Maya Angelou fans or members of Shakti women, but I think from the entire mixture of all these factors. I was on such a high when I got home that I had to stay up for 5 hours (until 4 a.m) just to calm down enough for sleep! I am writing about the event 5 days later and feel the same strong positivity rising up in me as I type!
What a perfect way to start, before introductions, explanations and direct contact with the waiting audience, we heard the voice of Maya herself. Just an excerpt – but I have treated you to the whole 6+minutes here;
Glamour is profound
The event was organised by Jordan Ashley Ann Garvey and hosted Cheryl Garvey. We had plenty of time to chat and introduce ourselves to others in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
Cheryl started the evening after we had listen to some of the ‘Rainbow in the Clouds’ speech- which you will have heard now ^^^ from the links above. She introduced the evening, talked to us about Shakti Women and what the evening was for. It truly was a celebration too.
A mixture of performance mediums, including theatre and music, work that had been directly influenced by Maya or was about her, sometimes her own words and extracts from her (many)books. What it made it more special (although nerve wracking) was being interviewed by Cheryl about Maya Angelou and her role in our lives. As audience this insight was beautiful and to hear the repeated themes of things she had brought to our lives was a true testament to Maya’s messenger role, not that anybody needs convincing of that. The interviews were just a few questions, Cheryl really listened to the answers though. It was very empowering, as was the entire event.
The night was opened by Lauren Williams, I was there when she became Birmingham Young Poet Laureate, announced in the Birmingham Literature Festival October 2013, seeing her perform again was a real treat. Her confidence has come on in leaps and her grandma thoroughly enjoyed her performances with all the joy and pride, happy grandparents can exude. We also have her to thank for the video footage of the evening, I believe.
Lauren performed fantastically, her poem was inspired by Maya’s poem ‘Still I Rise’ – a great opening for the event.
Tessa Lowe performed an extract from one of Maya’s books, Tessa is one of my phenomenal women and it was great to hear her reading the extract adding the humour of Maya in her voice.
We had an interval with scrumptious canapés. JoJoLapa ‘the ultimate authentic Nepalese dining experience’.
After which we heard a moving and contemplative acoustic set by Alisha Kadir, she has a gorgeous voice and I have been lucky enough to catch her on the open mic circuit before. She really spoke deeply to us through her music and her interview was one I enjoyed most.
After her set came a few more canapés and people had a chance to order more food. Then I was next on.
I was nervous of my poetry as it was all inspired by Maya Angelou but not really about the lady herself. Although the interview was.
I hate writing about my own performance (and found it even harder to watch the videos) so here is some of what Jordan and Siobhan Harper-Nunes (Founder/ Director of Shakti Women Ltd) had to say about it;
‘… a poet who had just returned to the poetry scene, but you never would have thought that she had left! Her anthology of poems inspired by Maya Angelou captivated the guests. It was a pure joy to watch a creative in her element, reading her work, executed so delicately you couldn’t help but be moved.’ J.G
Siobhan used part of my poem* as a social network status -*Maya Angelou in bold;
ON SUCCESS: “Success is liking yourself – liking what you do and liking the way you do it – once you can answer “YES” then you have become successful” Nina Lewis
Love it – just reviewed the videos from Friday – you were/are awesome. S.HN
I based my poetry on the following words, well known quotations from Maya Angelou.
I was followed by a very clever lady, Dramatist Marlene McKenzie. She performed a monologue open to questions, where her character sought advice from the audience. Insightful, challenging and superb to watch. Marlene runs her own women’s theatre group.
Then Jan Watts, a former Birmingham Poet Laureate, who still does more for the city and the people/ poetry promotion than many. Another one of my phenomenal women, (I have met so many amazing people since I embarked on the poetry scene journey last Autumn). Jan is greatly entertaining to watch – although this evening’s poems were so deeply touching and not from humorous muse, – I still felt the same magic as I usually do when watching her perform. Listening to Jan talking about her own Maya Angelou connections was one of my highlights of the evening.
Lauren Williams closed the evening with another wonderful poem. Lauren and Jordan are so rich with wisdom, their journeys only recently starting – I know I haven’t seen the full wingspan of either yet – watch out for them – they are BOTH Phenomenal women!
The charity project organised by Shakti Women, is ‘Book Club’, there aim – to get books into schools and this nothing to do with supermarket ‘books for schools’ tokens. They spend the money on books by influential women to inspire young girls/women in schools. Books which we hope will stay in the school library for a good few decades to come. Tickets and donations raised £200.00, which they hope will provide enough books for the school they are currently working with in the city.
We celebrated Maya Angelou’s life and all that she had brought to ours. In writing this post I have discovered a talented artist and her memorial post for Maya. I don’t feel this would be complete without it.
© Ikumi Kayama
Used with Permission
A Night With Maya Angelou
- Here is a link to Jordan’s blog review.
- The website of the talented artist Ikumi Kayama