Bowie and Me

It must have been the spirits connecting who persuaded me to stay up late last night and watch the Bowie documentary I recorded over Christmas so you can imagine my shock this morning to hear he had died around the same time.

I am not going to pretend I knew him well, I wasn’t a girlfriend but for a small moment we held hands, snuggled up and kissed. I met Bowie after the singer Danny Williams (Moonriver) was brought to our flat. I think Greg Edwards had already left Manchester but the guy who brought Williams didn’t know that. The three of us went into town. I think to the Explosion club where DJ Dave Eager brought Bowie and persuaded me to get them into the Time and Place. I was happy to do so because though Bowie was excited to meet Williams I didn’t like the crooner so off we went.

Eager lived quite close so I was happy to accept a lift with them but instead of Longsight we went straight to their hotel by the airport where Eager (yes you did) drove off and left me with Ronson and a snotty blonde. At the bar he told me about his music ambitions and while there he took a call that informed him they had a USA hit so he was over the moon. It was really late when I left and with not enough money for a cab I was given a handful of cash; over fifty pounds. I was living with the man who was to be the love of my life and knew that even as a night taxi driver Pete Gresty was already home with the sunrise. Not mentioning the kisses I told him I had been with this extrovert Gay guy I had after all been snuggling up to Ziggy still I was confused. Bowie was a toucher (not a groper) a caresser and his kisses were not gay!

Even though he had asked me to join him at his show at The Hardrock (Stretford), I was still in my teens and had no idea how I was going to get in, plus my music taste laid more in American Black music. That afternoon the same taxi driver arrived with my tickets and flowers. I hid the tickets and binned the flowers which was a good job because when I pointed Bowie out on Top of The Pops Pete went ballistic and that was that.

SuAndi Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

SuAndi6

Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

5 March 2015 10:57
An internationally acclaimed performance poet has been awarded an honorary degree for her outstanding contribution to British art.

SuAndi is a performance poet, whose works include poetry, prose and librettos. She has published numerous collections of poetry, including Style (1990), Nearly Forty (1994), and There Will Be No Tears (1996).

SuAndi was presented with the honorary degree by Alan Milburn on 4 March, which was one of his very first tasks as Chancellor, having been officially installed that day.

On receiving the honour, SuAndi said: “This honorary degree illustrates that Lancaster University values voices outside of academia and for me, as a self-taught poet and writer, it is my Oscar.”

Born of Nigerian and British heritage, she was a dancer and a model before becoming a performance poet in 1985. In more recent years she has also worked in Live Art, touring and lecturing nationally and internationally.

An active supporter of the arts, both locally and nationally, SuAndi has been voluntary Cultural Director of the National Black Arts Alliance since its formation in 1985. She was appointed OBE in 1999 for her services to the Black Arts.

Lancaster University has been awarding Honorary Degrees since it was founded in 1964. They are awarded to people with an outstanding international reputation in their field and those with a leading national reputation who have a strong link with the University or the local region. SuAndi has a strong association with Lancaster University, both through her work with Theatre Studies and the AHRC-funded ‘Moving Manchester’ research project, which explored how migration has informed Manchester’s literary scene since the 1960s.

http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/articles/2015/honorary-degree-for-acclaimed-poet-suandi/

Lancs Bio 1 | Lancs Bio 2Lancs Bio 3Lancs Bio 4

Milburn 20150157

Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

Massacre • Charleston S. Carolina June 17, 2015

The they that kill us
threaten our lives from dawn to dusk
plot our extermination
In public arenas
of council office
self identified churches
that are without the true God
they who claim what we have achieved
they permitted
and the rest we took
through stealth crime
by any means necessary
because that is in our genetic makeup
thieves from the cradle to the grave
sexual deviants from puberty until incarceration
and they hope no appeal death row
first they cloaked themselves in missionary cloth
then in the wealth trappings of slavery
and when freedom brought emancipation
they donned pointed hoods and white sheets to conceal their uniforms and shields
Who are they
Theses senators, mayors, sheriffs. Officers of the law. Ordinary citizens. Priests vicars, red necked bigots of ordinary guys
whose mantra kill kill kill
divides this nation
because the fear sits close to our consciousness
as our kids climb into the yellow bus
we travel the subway
Check into work
lunch out
watch a movie
go about our business
minding our business
Bow our heads in prayer
That as we reach out to our neighbour
He isn’t taking aim

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

INTERGENERATIONAL TRAUMA

My father first walked the earth in Warri
His feet sinking into the hot mud of Nigeria’s Delta State
Then one day, as other men launched fishing boats
He sailed far away.
Why, I don’t know,
He never told me,
I never asked.
Africa and Manchester did not offer life parallels
So we never had that conversation

My father never talked of the past
I never asked
What did you do in the war dad?
What was your home like?
Do I look like your people?
Can you see your mother in my eyes?
The way I walk, argue
I’m built a female version of you
Am I the same height as your father?
Words never spoken
Only got silent responses.

My father never said
When the white man came:
But I know he knew.
Summers we would visit his old master
Exchanging our terrace house
For a large white detached in Richmond Surrey
Where my father cleaned;
A servitude repayment for our visit.
While I was forbidden to
Touch, speak, play,
Do anything without first asking permission.
Strange white people I thought.
‘Snobby bastards,’ said my mother when I returned home
‘Where do they think this is?
It’s not bloody Africa.’
Her temper causing her cheeks to flame red
Matching the copper of her hair
‘Andi,’ she’d say
‘Slavery is over;
Get over it.’
What did she mean?
But I never asked
And she never explained.

Schools for my father
Were glorious European opportunities
So he spared nothing to buy
My uniform, my shoes
A too large briefcase.
Copies of the same books that teachers
Distributed daily in class.
Strange, that I had to leave the classroom
To begin my education;
Tutored via overheard conversations
Documentaries, radical articles
And orators from Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X.
Even though neither had a penchant for white people.
But no matter how I broadened my knowledge,
I still loved my mother
Nothing was going to change that.
Now my mouth was full
Of words my brain had memorised
Colonialism, lynchings, detention
Apartheid, segregation
Civil Rights, Black Power
And always
Slavery.

What did my father know?
That the Yoruba’s were favoured for their strength
But whipped long to curb their independence
That the Ibos though stolen in their thousands
Also found an inner power to walk-on water
And the ijaw from Warri
Who speaks of them?
Not, certainly my father.
Except sometimes,
When the silence was so loud my ears would ache
I would turn to him
And he looking far into the distance
Seemed oblivious to the tears
Washing his cheeks
Flowing under his chin
Then water falling towards his heart.

In that moment my father
Was no longer the man I knew
The man I didn’t know.
He was in that moment,
A body filed with the spirits of all his ancestors.
My family from my grandfather
To generations who never imagined life beyond the Forçados River
Conquered, shackled, bartered
Sold, abused, demonised, throttled, burnt, flogged
Criminalised, imprisoned,
Executed by the law under the law.

The trauma of the new
The wicked the evil
Filled my father
So that he could not speak
And I never asked why.
Why,
Before he died
Was he called Thomas

Under my right eye
I have an indentation
It is in the exact same place
As my father’s peoples’ ritual scarring
Some days when I look at it
It seems more prominent
Like it really is a scar
But I can barely make it out
Through my tears

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK

BB King

BB King has quite rightly received numerous obituaries detailing his life as a great musician and a kind man. Here is mine. I first met him as queued for his autograph in 1985 he was touring and also playing for Live Aid. As I waited I noted how he gave everyone time and was interested in all they said. He asked me where my friend and I were going. “To the Grapes I said, “Why don’t you join us” I added mischievously. I never expected him to turn up so I was totally blown away when the DJ asked the girl who was at the BB King concert to take a call. BB rang to say they had an early departure for Live Aid and could not come along. He asked for my address. That Christmas and for every year afterwards he sent me a card and small BB King token. Much I expect like most of his fans. I became a regular at his concerts. Often gathering afterwards with him and one or two of his band for a drink. He was kind, and generous. On one return performance at the Apollo his tour manager said there were fans waiting outside in the rain. BB Asked “Do you think they would mind coming in and waiting while I just sort some stuff out”.

I am not claiming that he and I were great friends. But he always remembered my name, signed his cards personally with the note “Keep on living poetically.” And always his music made me cry tears of sadness and laughter.

SuAndi Bio PhotosmallSuAndi OBE

Manchester, England

Acclaimed International Artist – Writer, Performance Poet, Lecturer

Cultural Director of National Black Arts Alliance

Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK