Heatons Library & ALL FM 96.9
When I asked the librarian in Heatons Library if I could hand out poems outside, she glanced at the poem I showed her and said: “yea, I guess so…”
I had glamorous assistant Emma with me, and we stood on each side of the road on the quiet street, to make sure we didn’t miss anyone. At one point Emma came to my side to tell me something, then she saw a man coming on her side and ran back across the road just as he was crossing to my side. I was laughing too much to give him a poem and he must have thought we were very strange!
I gave the poem to some builders on their lunchbreak, and quite a few other takers including a woman who said she likes reading poetry: “it all started with Keats.”
We gave out the poem ‘Toni Braxton’ by Annie Katchinska, from her Faber New Poets pamphlet (2010). When I talked about the poem on ALL FM with my guest Michelle Ayavoro (community-arts hero and co-founder of HerArt), she was put off at first by the way the poem is presented all in one solid block of writing (maybe this is also what annoyed the librarian?). But after we talked about it a bit more she started to connect with the poet and the poem and in the end of the show we listened to ‘Unbreak my Heart’ and had a good cry!
My fate was a weird surname and lipstick that glowed in the
dark, and adults who slurred, ‘Russia! Russssia!’ at video
cameras every year. My parents pinned carpets to the walls
and bought a tape recorder, gave me bad asthma attacks with
Beverly Craven, Ace of Base, Enya, more Enya. Crawling
under the table at dinner parties retrieving furry gherkins and
measuring guests’ legs with a tape measure, I thought Red
Square was full of onions and we’d never go home, and I
wanted kareoke not two alphabets, a frog in my throat like
Toni Braxton or the woman from M People. The song played
simultaneously on Capital and Magic until one day I heard
she had to stop begging her heart to be unbroken or her boobs
would explode, true story I swore, as somebody’s parents filed
for divorce and somebody else burst into tears in another
room saying they only ever talked to carpets, by now drooping
off the walls in a tragic fashion and smelling of gherkins. Say
you love me.