Bocas Litfest Trinidad Audio Interview

Audio Interview with me by Tyrone Ali at Bocas Litfest in Trindad, April 2014.

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Lovely Piece in Independent based on Mr Loverman

Ailment: Living a lie

Cure: Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

Living a lie might make life easier in the short term but usually means denying a fundamental part of yourself – which is sure to create problems in the long term. Whether the lie springs from being in the wrong career, spending more money than you have, or living with someone you do not love, the shaky foundations on which you build your life will show their cracks eventually.

For the sake of your own future, we urge you to come out of hiding now. Spend time in the company of irresistible Barry, the ‘loverman’ of Evaristo’s joyful novel, and be energised into putting all your cards on the table right now.

When Barrington Walker and Carmel were in their twenties, they were the hottest couple on the dance floor. Both tall, beautiful and graceful, their relationship was the envy of all in their native Antigua. Moving to London and having children seemed to cement their bond – and there, for the next 50 years, Barrington lived a lie. Because since he was 14 in Antigua, he has loved Morris; and Morris – who also married and moved to London – has loved him back.

Gay love being still illegal and socially unacceptable in the Caribbean, however, the two men were never able to express their love openly – and they brought their social strictures with them. Over the years they continued to meet in secret, spending the night together whenever they could; but even when Morris’s wife caught them in flagrante, resulting in divorce, Barry still bottled out of declaring himself, unable to face the reactions of his family.

Now in his seventies, Barry teeters on the verge of a confession – and we egg him on, for to the reader it is abundantly clear that his and Morris’s lives can finally begin only when the truth comes out. Be inspired by this tale of true love and bravado in the face of cultural contempt, and bring your own secrets into the light of day

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Exhibit B

I disagree with the protestors who wanted to, and in effect, shut down ‘Exhibit B’ last week. I had booked to see it and was looking forward to witnessing such a bold and challenging work of art. However, the protestors decided it was racist, accumulated over 20,000 signatures, and their protest at the venue on Monday night led to the show being cancelled, even though some of them, strangely, now seem to think it had nothing to do with the 200 of them gathered with drums and protest outside the venue doors with the explicit intent of not letting people through. And even though, when I casually mentioned I was going to Exhibit B at a talk I gave about my own work at Goldsmiths a week earlier, some of the audience said they objected to it and would be there outside the venue and would be among the people who would stop me entering.

The problem is that I’m perfectly capable of making up my own mind about whether a work of art is racist and I object to people deciding for me, people who have not even seen the performance, which they’ll proudly declare. Their debate on this matter ranges from dictating the terms on which we artists create art, what is acceptable and what isn’t (to them); to speaking on behalf of the ‘black community’ as if we are a homogenous entity in this country; to accusing those white people who object to their protest as racist. The campaign leader, Sara Myers, said on film that ‘our’ ancestors ‘memories will not be used for art’. It’s so ridiculous it beggars belief, really. I expect her to come up with a list of dos and don’ts, so that we know from now on what is acceptable to her as the self-appointed spokesperson of ‘the black community’. The protestors have been very vocal in the media in their opposition to the performance but their victory is their own, it is not mine. Actually, I’m furious and ashamed. We’ve just had a debate on Facebook about it  and their arguments are all over the place and don’t stand up to scrutiny. People are angry about racism, which I understand, but I think their anger is misguided in this instance. Join me on FB to see the posts. a90f05f0-23cf-11e4-_750971b

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Mslexia – my guest-edited September 2014 issue out now.


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Wonderful review of Mr Loverman in Huff Post USA

Posted: 06/30/2014 12:16 pm
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Announced May 12th, 2014. I set up this £3000 prize for African poets when I joined the English & Creative Writing Dept at Brunel Uni three years ago. Ethiopian poet, Liyou Libsekal, who lives in Addis Ababa, is the winner of the second year of the prize this year, and Nick Makoha and Amy Lukau are runners-up. Warsan Shire was the winner in its first year. Visit site:

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American cover of Mr Loverman (Akashic Books, April 2014)

MrLoverman US COVER

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