HAIR ANTHOLOGY BIOGRAPHIES
Rachel Van Den Bergen
Poetry springs into my head in bed, on the bus, walking down the street, anywhere. When it comes I have to write it. I`d like my poetry to connect me to people.
My poems come a little at a time, I put them together, they become whole: words that heal my sorrows, smooth away my pain, cheer me up, give me laughter instead of tears.
I always scribbled a bit, but after my husband died my daughter, Debjani persuaded me to take up writing and translating. We translated a book together: Uma Prashad Mukherjee`s Album. I usually write in Bengali and enjoy writing our family stories. Many, like my aunt Annapurna`s story, are quite remarkable.
I`m lucky to be living my childhood dream of becoming a writer. Writing is an obsessive joy and traditional tales are a constant inspiration. My first collection was I Was That Woman and recent books include Namaskar, Masala and A Slice of Sheffield. I also translate poetry from South Asian languages.
I am a Stand Up Comedian who also writes comic poems. So poetry is like a second language I picked up, I`m not sure where or necessarily why. As someone who`s had dubious hairstyles in the past and will probably continue in the future, I decided to write Black Hair Day. For more info www.juliandaniel.co.uk
Poetry is my chosen tool of expression because it is a natural talent. Writing is a way to let the world know what is going on in my head. I believe that is why my novel is taking so long because I`m not yet ready to share so much of me but I can give you a taste through my poetry.
Poetry writing is a sudden gripping urge. I have written on a cheque lacking other paper! What I feel poetry is for is to surprise, move, even irritate but always to generate some reaction! Better a smack in the face with a wet fish than a mouthful of bland biscuit.
When I write, I normally have an image of the beginning and the end; the question is how I should travel from A to B. This was the case with Childhood Hair, which sprung as I observed my Nana`s fragile head, on her still-robust body. It is to her I dedicate this piece.
For a long time I`ve had a burning desire to write. Blackness is the main theme to my poetry, from childhood memories to bold statements. I want to explore worlds beyond the boundaries that society places on us. With honesty and faith I continue to write.
Asad-ullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869: biography by Basir Kazmi)
Ghalib is the most popular poet in Urdu Literature, as well as being one of the greatest. His Persian verses too are of a high calibre. Mainly a ghazal poet, Ghalib extended the scope of this genre to such an extent that it became capable of expressing any thought or emotion. Ghalib`s poetry is distinguished by his elevated thoughts, psychological insight and subtle treatment of themes related to almost every aspect of human life.
I am the founder of Sema Grass Roots theatre production, where I develop and coordinate educational programs around social development for young people in schools and youth groups in the Yorkshire region. I am a poet, live artist, researcher and educator. I have been researching a larger poem on hair and Bigwig n Suga Brown is one extract from this.
I write poems, songs and children`s stories in Bengali. My books include Grandma`s Treasure Trove. Ideas come but I am careless about writing them down. This anthology`s subject - hair - inspired me but writing my poem in English was very hard. I thank Debjani Chatterjee for editing my English.
G. Ovie Jobome
Writing to me is all about the story. The story kicks about in my head, and, when my brain finally kicks into gear, the story trickles out reluctantly via my fingers, and the keyboard.
Basir Sultan Kazmi (b. 1955)
I was born with a poetic spoon in my mouth. When about four, looking up at some trees, I said, `Pappa, leaves!` According to my father, Nasir Kazmi, that was my first poem. I don`t make an effort to write, but find that ghazals, other poems and also plays just insist on flowing out of my pen, as naturally as leaves appear on trees.
Nasir Kazmi (1925-1972: biography by Basir Kazmi)
Nasir Kazmi`s elegant ghazals, filled with yearning and pathos, establish him as perhaps the greatest ghazal writer of the 20th century. The daily News International, Lahore recorded the generally held critical opinion that Nasir Kazmi had single-handedly revived the ghazal form and developed it into a modern and unique art-form. His lyrics transformed the traditional pessimism of the ghazal into an expression of the angst of modern man.
I do a variety of things to try come up with poems for an anthology on hair. I sit and rack my brain for hairy experiences and anecdotes. I search out any existing poems with tenuous references to hair. I forget to comb my hair.
Having no idea of metre, I don`t really regard myself as poet, but I`m told otherwise. Some pieces seem to take for ever; others like the one in this anthology, come complete with every detail.
Poetry has always been a part of me. It has now possessed me and is wreaking havoc on my life. Some of my poems come out in full, others in dribs and drabs. I am an endless drafter; for this I blame the English teacher in me. Moods of Hair is an exile`s journey into Indian culture, as is the rest of my poetry.
I feel guilty when I don`t write poetry, like I am neglecting someone I love. When I write I experience the thrill of conceiving something, bringing something to life. Poetry makes me feel worthwhile, like it`s my time to shine. I dedicate my poems to my son, Nyah.
I fall in love with an idea and have a six month romance. Then we wise up to each other`s faults. The fiction looks at me, jeering, `you`re not up to it`. Meanwhile I`m thinking, `this thing`s the devil`s child.` Sometimes we make up, sometimes we go our own way.
Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father. She was adopted by a white couple at birth and was brought up in Glasgow. The experience of being adopted by and growing up within a white family inspired her first collection of poetry, The Adoption Papers (1991). Her other poetry books are Other Lovers (1993), Off Colour (1998) and Life Mask (2005), all published by Bloodaxe. Her fiction titles include Trumpet and Why Don`t You Stop Telling Stories? (both from Picador). She won the Somerset Maugham Award with Other Lovers, the Guardian Fiction Prize for Trumpet, and has twice won the Signal Poetry Award for her children¹s poetry.
I live parallel lives (((((Nigerian, Mancunian, singer, poet, producer/composer, playwright, linguist, film-maker, club promoter)))). One of the founders of Manchester`s Speakeasy People poetry collective, I have won several awards for my writing for theatre & no awards for my poetry.
poetry gives me space 2 explore n express emotions
poetry gives me a voice that is true 2 my experiences
poetry elevates my spirit flows naturally
now i know why the caged bird sings
Cause i feel a need 4 truth/s
dedicated 2 my beloved
Africa n fis.hy dreams
John Lyons is a national award-winning painter and poet. He has four published collections, the latest being, Voices From a Silk-Cotton Tree, Smith Doorstop Books. His poems for children and adults appear in numerous publications.
My influences are from the griot or public poetry tradition. My poetry connects with the political and social issues facing African Caribbean communities in the UK and beyond. I try to write with simplicity and engagement without shying away from complex subjects.
I`m a poet at heart. But I do write anything for money. I work well to deadlines and even set them myself. Tidying up, that`s my thinking time. A very valuable time for mulling over ideas and words. Then, when I`m ready to write, its there.
Poetry comes to me from somewhere I cannot explain, like God, spirit, soul. It wakes me, stops me mid journeys, appears like magic, it`s such a joy, always. I was born of Muslim Pakistani parents in Dharan, Saudi Arabia. I am also a scriptwriter for radio, tv, film and theatre.
I started writing poems when I was nine. My brothers and sisters and I would make up stories about undersea kingdoms and stitch pages together to make little books. A lot of my best stuff is about crazy things that happened in the family when we were kids - just change the names to protect the embarrassed. When I`m being good I start writing around six or seven in the morning, and I don`t drink the night before. But when the deadlines come, it`s all out the window - at the computer 20:7, skipping meals, living on crisps and cranberry juice. Not the best tactic - sometimes I have to re-write it. And re-write it. But sometimes - that`s the one.
I love poetry and the opportunity it offers me to introduce my thoughts and rhymes to different audiences. I like to use poetry to look at personal, relationship and society issues. Most of my poems on the subject of Hair have come from a kind of meditation on my life, when I find the time away from being a busy mum and church woman!
As a little girl I`d get this itch in my hand, which required a pen and paper and ended up with me writing. Sometimes I don`t even know what I`m going to write but when I get that itch I know something is on its way! Dedicated to my wonderful sisters, Yasmine, & Andrea.
For novelists like myself who spend months and months writing a novel, the short story affords a small fountain of delight. A little gift that forms from varied experiences; sometimes an opening sentence leads to a short piece, sometimes a character or an idea. It is however always highly satisfying, and I sincerely hope the readers will enjoy it too.
It feels good to be accepted for publication!
Martin de Mello
I write both poetry and fiction. Being Eurasian and falling on the wrong side of many words the elusivene and resistant nature of narrative is of particular interest to me. For me the text is an audience in dialogue with the reader, offering ambiguity and endless possibilities.
Mir Taqi Mir (1722-1810: biography by Basir Kazmi)
Many regard Mir as the greatest Urdu poet. Equally loved by the educated classes and by ordinary people, he contributed immensely to the development of Urdu by transforming the language of everyday use into poetry. The ghazal was his main medium, though he also wrote in many other forms of poetry. Full of deep emotion and profound thoughts, Mir`s poetry is generally considered the most effective expression of grief and a sense of loss.
Momin Khan Momin (1801-1852: biography by Basir Kazmi)
Famous primarily for his Urdu ghazals, Momin had a multi-faceted personality. He was a great scholar in Persian and Arabic, a renowned physician and an outstanding chess player. He was also well-versed in music, astronomy and astrology. Momin`s poetry is marked by great flights of fancy, distinctive imagery, a particular Persianized style and the clever use of his nom de plume.
I enjoy trying to put some thoughts and feelings through the grinder, transforming them into a gooey paste and then moulding them into an intriguing shape. After this I like to bake them until well browned and serve them with a sprinkling of mystery.
I write short stories, poetry, comedy and dabble in art. I once worked in advertising and am now writing a novel to redeem my soul. Mi natty Dred don gimme Artritis is a true story told by two of the many voices in my head.
Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi (1750-1824: biography by Basir Kazmi)
Like Mir, Mushafi was a prolific Urdu writer who composed in many poetic forms, eg ghazal, qasida (eulogy), masnavi (long narrative poem) and quatrains, but is best known for his ghazals. His works are available in nine volumes. A master craftsman who was emulated by many, Mushafi too is an important poet who continues to be read, enjoyed and appreciated.
Ahmed Mushtaq (b. 1933: biography by Basir Kazmi)
One of Pakistan`s most important ghazal poets, Ahmed Mushtaq migrated to the USA in 1984. In his youth he wanted to become a painter or a classical singer, but he has said that his temperament and life-style did not suit him for the hard work necessitated by these art forms. As a poet, he likes to think in terms of sounds and images.
Where does my poetry come from? I have no idea...I`m nearly 40, have bills, am discovering that middle age spread is not just a rumour, am still terrible at Japanese and my Rugrats have All Grown Up... Its turning me grey... I think there`s a poem in there somewhere...
In the beginning God created poetry. Let there be words - and there was! I love the way words mingle together, stretch your imagination, take you into another world and make you laugh! Rapunzel, Rapunzel and HAIR are dedicated to all those black women who appreciate the versatility of their hair!
Writing has all the positives for me; it`s where I feel I am worth something of value and importance. I come alive! re-connect to my spiritual self and others. Sometimes I get to use words like a sword on my don`t-mess-with-me days. And officials and ex`s have felt my words in their written form!
Through my verse come strands of memories. My hair has had at least one hundred hair styles. Inspiration comes from all corners. I dedicate my poems to my sister Mumba who brings new life, a future and more.
I write to express unreleased anger which I have somehow contained over the years by continuous scribbles in an array of notebooks. I write about life, lifestyles, relationships and all that I witness around me. I dedicate all my work to the Mirza Family.
My hair poem is for my baby brother. When we were children we made names for the missing things; things that were not in the dictionary, slippery things that existed only in our imaginations. For the things that felt uncannily right, we named them good feelings.
Poetry is my attempt to log those rare good feelings, and map my way back to experiencing them again.
I find this style of writing easy because I`m a trained counsellor and also not forgetting to mention life`s experience being my best teacher. When I come across any problem it appears difficult, but once I focus between the lines this then allows me to address the whole problem.
Very often I do so many things at once I can have an entire conversation with someone and not know what the hell they are talking about or what I`ve just said, at the same time as cooking mutton and rice and watching my boys, (I have two), be spiderman!
As for writing, well, I don`t have time to write, or it`s not given, I have to wrestle it from other parts of my life! I come from London, I live in Sheffield and after a long and windy road, I`m finally doing what I should be, in between the other stuff.
It started with a poem about a swan when I was seven and I`m still going. Subjects arrive without warning and I am moved to write. This, my first published poem, is dedicated to my grandfather - Neville Clarence Nightingale Esq. JP, and to my mother for keeping that first poem in her top drawer.
Tanya Chan Sam
Writing is something I love and hate simultaneously. It forces me to watch people and events, lets me see images and stories everywhere and makes me want to know more about the shred of idea I`ve had. I want my writing to keep me entertained for a long while.
There are so many stories from my childhood in the 1950`s that I want to write. Pipe Cleaner Perms started as a poem but in the end it seemed more at home as prose. It`s for my mother. She loved us in many ways and this is about one of them.
I like telling tales within form and structure: like haikus and villanelles. I wish I had more time to write better poetry. Instead, I`ve become a nurturing anthology editor, loving mother to SABLE LitMag and a doting series editor for the Inscribe imprint of Peepal Tree Press.
Poetry crept up on me and mugged me, I was far richer in a previous life, but without poetry I was a poorer man. Poems arrive usually at 4am, wake me up with their insistence, I find them running through me like a kind of music, and I just have to fit the words to that music. www.johnsiddique.co.uk for more.
Poetry for me is an emotional expression of an experience that I have gone through or witnessed, before I put pen to paper. I write from my heart, leaving nothing out. Putting those emotions into words creates a picture in your mind. I dedicate Natural High to all my family, one love.
I try to capture a moment in time: a myth drawn from an actuality. I don`t feel there is anything clever about my writing. Simple is what I achieve without even attempting to do so. I like to think the reader hears my voice and maybe in a quiet moment can recall the tale, the poem.
But I also guard the fact that as a Black poet I draw on ancestral tales told down the centuries by our griots and orators of history and to pen them anew. This action is sometimes subconscious. Sometimes it is the writing of intent, but always it is my stimulus and that enables myths and facts to lie together in verse.
I was born and raised in Gonesse, France. After surviving in London for three years, I moved to Manchester in 2003 and started writing poems with the encouragement of Commonword. A large part of my writing has evolved around my pitiful and vain attempts to have full control over my life, feelings, emotions or physical appearance.
I learned to write when I was three years old and cannot remember a time when I didn`t pen poems. Writing is the most satisfying way of expressing my creativity, making sense of the world and problem solving. Black hair politics is one of many themes that inspire me.
Words? Words are what`s left of poems when the paper is gone.
Poems? Poems are what`s left of life when the breath is done.
Life? A Life is what`s left of belief when the be has been.
Go. Do. Be.
Writing a good poem for me is like waiting for the desert rain - there are long periods of vast, empty sand dunes with nowhere to hide and take shelter in. After the rain everything transforms, flowers bloom, grass sings and life dons on a new enchanting coat every moment as it flows effortlessly.
Poetry is the voice in which I speak to an un-encountered audience; it allows me the veil of anonymity as well an insight into my perceptions of the environment around me. My Hair is my take on women whose hair tells you something about their inner psyche.
I guess poetry for me is very much a stream of consciousness type of thing. I write a lot from personal experience and on issues which affect us all. It is always spontaneous but it is never very difficult. In fact, the hardest thing for me is choosing the title. Once I have that, it virtually writes itself.