Category Archives: Non Poetic Blogs

My Adidas

 

Sometimes your stride pattern is just as important as your shoes. The worn soul of mine meant all I had was my stride. All I had were stops and starts, long presses and short taps, perhaps they were Morse code to the universe, calling out for a new pair.

From the miles I have walked, the only thing I would wish upon anyone is the beauty of acquaintances providing rest from the intense heat.

Having made many strides, in recent times I found a formidable adversary that challenged me to dance down treacle-filled streets with concrete blocks strapped to my feet.

Even with two shoes as two sides to a story, my truth in all of this was that I had to Get Out. Clearings that energised me to walk a certain way were blocked or simply no longer existed.

I’d been here about 14 years ago yet I’d forgotten what the storm felt like. I forgot the scar caused by the lightning, I forgot the days of darkness and how I would have to keep my eyes open, fighting with the same fingertips I was holding onto my sanity with.

Every now and then my eyes would mistake a candle for the sun, yeah… I’d been here before. How many more strides could I get through?

Ask a friend, ask an adversary?

She sipped tea like Miss Piggy proved Kermit was cheating.

Stirred it now and then to keep me in a hopeless place.

My records laid before her showed my performance was ace

12-and-a-half years a slave, I took my calls and beatings.

When Liberty shook her bell I ran away, to freedom

The universe stopped re-healing my shoes and sent me several new pairs. The equilibrium has changed, I drive instead of walk, I have new scenery to take in and understand.

Even though lightning left a deeper scar from the second strike, I know that the path I am on is one that is made for me.

New shoes, my strides, in the words of Nas….”Whose world is this?”

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Potters’ Arf Marathon – My Story

Potters arf Race no.

Although I took part in a half marathon 5 years ago for a charitable cause, fitness wise I’ve only recently begun to battle the early 30s bulge.
During the working week, I walk about 25 miles so  walking Stoke -on-Trent’s “Potters’ Arf” (half) marathon seemed a great fit for me.

Having lost a family member, bought and moved into a house in the last 2 months, I haven’t had much time to train. I didn’t know how fit I was or whether I would match the 3 hours and 50 minutes I did 5 years ago. Until the starting klaxon, butterflies were salsa dancing in my stomach.

While my “man in black” attire seemed at odds with the fluorescent offerings by the groups around me, the air was filled with focus and fun. On a grey and increasingly wet Sunday morning in June, I was certainly in the focus camp.

Today I would be a soloist surrounded by small orchestras while others hoped to raise money, my job was simply to get over the finish line in one piece.

Though I started in the front 15, I didn’t expect to stay there. The banter with a small group who would alternate between running and walking through sections of the course made for an entertaining first half.

I would pass them, then 5 minutes later I would hear buckets jangling as they passed me in a blur of pink.
I played pick the pacemaker with various people in front of me until they were too far ahead or behind. As my pace steadied, a 52-year-old guy called “Brian” and I begun a conversation. I’d say he made my decision to do this worthwhile.

Hearing about the cause he was doing this for would have had me in tears had it not been for the rain filling my eyes. Getting to know “Brian” throughout the middle of the race helped this overthinker relax and find my rhythm.
If I’d had my phone I would have focused on it and probably slowed down to check every mile. Instead, through our conversation and the rhythm we found, we managed to reel in and surpass those doing the run/ walk combo.
As the crowds started to thicken at around the 9-mile mark, I was starting to lose him and by the 10th mile when elite runners had passed me, he was out of sight.

From then on the energy from the crowd became my battery. I thanked or gave two thumbs up to everyone that applauded or told me to keep going.I officially crossed the line at 2 hours 58 minutes and 45 seconds.

“Brian” was right, we had hit a quick pace and somehow I’d managed to maintain it.As I scoured the official results, he was nowhere to be found, “Brian” must have been an Angel sent to encourage me, for that I am thankful.

I learned  several things about myself today,  simple as they may be, my 3 takeaways are:

  1. Focus doesn’t mean intense self-talk. Tune into your journey and the people or things that help you with it.
  2. Walk your walk. Your Brian will come and go, you still have to cross the line.
  3. Find the fun(ny) – a smile is a groove that may help you find yours.

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Bucket Lists & Passions

Though for many it the season of Coca-Cola trucks, mistletoe and Mariah Carey on repeat. It has become a tradition for me to look back at the year then choose a new playlist of sorts for the next 12 months. The aim? To get used to the new or improved grooves ahead of schedule.

2015 has undoubtedly been categorised by the word “expansion”. While poetry has been a muscle exercised a little less this year, I have experienced joy in unexpected areas such as fitness and photography.  Having taken pictures like the one below (see more photos here), it seems I am stumbling into another of my father’s footsteps.

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This year, music has been a trumpeted passion that has somewhat overtaken my poetic inclinations.

Through my 8-month-old music review blog 7ish, I now know more about myself as a writer and the scale of knowledge required to grow during the next season.

Of the bucket list aspects of the year, a handful of concerts that encompassed two of my all-time influences namely Kirk Franklin and Talib Kweli means they can be ticked off. To see Saul Williams would complete the triumvirate of my creative bucket list.

As poetry is a muscle that must be exercised to be maintained, a greater output is on the cards.

Thanks for sticking with me

Adrian

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Blooming Marvellous

This week has been an inspiring one, full of themes and quotes that I could build poetry from. My favourite quote has been “Follow the contour of the road”.

The context was a driving lesson where my mind was over-thinking and I took a straight line through a couple of lanes.

Many times we embark on a path only to crash or come to a dead end because we want it to be a straight line. If we want to go into a different room of our house we have to turn a corner at some point.

It’s like life is a colouring book given to us with every colour Crayola could offer, yet we choose one and use it on every page. Not only that, when that colour runs out we try to re-create that colour and feel stressed because the other colours aren’t it. Let your beach scenes be just that!

For me following the contour of the road, like my perception of my writing, acknowledges that which is behind me whilst concentrating on that ahead.

I was moved to anger and sadness having recently learned, through a documentary, that my surname was given by British slave masters in Jamaica. That said, Positive Reflection has sandwiched the joy of my birthday and other accomplishments the last 7 days.

Confession time…I rarely use the word happy in conversations about myself. Perhaps it is a blessing and a curse at times that like my father, I’m a perfectionist at heart. Yet from passing my driving theory test to the surprises from my wife, my side of my family, and even from my team at work have made feel happy. I cried tears of joy a few times on my birthday, having felt a forceful combination of joy and contentment. I was happy.

A brownie cake baked by one of my team.

A brownie cake baked by one of my team.

Maybe you’ve lived your whole life to the fullest using every part of your brain’s capacity, or maybe like me, you’re steadily realising where you’re at and beginning to make it better than it’s ever been.

The words Attitude and Commitment sum up my last 12 months and will be the backbone of the next 12, and the 12 beyond that. I left 32 knowing with an outline of the scenes I want to add colour to throughout my 33rd year.  Perhaps the biggest challenge and change in this part of my life is committing to commitment.

If it helps, write down the new places you’ve been, things you’ve done that you didn’t do before. You might realise very quickly how much you have lived, learned or even want to do!

I love rhythm, find yours and Smile!

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It’s been quiet.

Since posting my last piece “Clock watching” you may be forgiven for thinking I’d dropped off the face of the planet.

That said, I was in preparation for my 3rd assault on the poetry slam at the Audlem Music and arts festival which took place on May 21st. Like a boxer going to training camp before a fight, I too go into a period of hibernation. In this period where the focus is solely on the pieces that I would use for my rounds, the biggest battle was between those crafted with a strong metaphoric presence, and simpler content sprinkled with poetic elements. In the end I delivered 3 rounds of poetry that showcased my versatility as a writer and performer.

The internal battle raged despite choosing the 3 pieces early on, the temptation to chop and change my poems was hard to resist. At one point I had 5 poems with a further two as back up if nerves caused me to forget one. For once I stuck to the plan!

Although I found myself in a constant cycle of editing 2014’s “Flagged Offside”, a poem written for week 11 of the 52 week challenge, it was the highest scoring poem of the first round. In honesty, I thought it was my least creative piece of the 3 and might see me scrape through.  Maybe it was the perfectly timed action of ripping open my shirt to reveal a Manchester United jersey that swung it in my favour.

My 2nd round performance was of Clock Watching, a poem that hasn’t seen an open mic yet one that took me through as best runner – up. The best poem of that round belonged to a poet called Nick Lovell with his tightly written war tale. As classic spoken word rhyme patterns go – he had that round in his grasp. Nick eventually finished 3rd.

If you’ve seen me perform live then typically my poem Dear Caramel will make an appearance. This was left for the final round as I decided to trust my newer work and then bring it home with that one. Yet like Usain Bolt pulling up with a muscle injury with 5 metres to go, I knew I’d lost it when I stumbled at penultimate line.. I’d wanted to win so badly, though with this only being my 4th slam, I was encouraged by many that  being 2nd is an achievement that I should be proud of.

Legendary Liverpool Football club manager Bill Shankly talked of first being first and 2nd being nowhere. That is precisely how I felt for a few days after.. On reflection, losing by half a point, to “Spoz” a former poet laureate that I’ve known since 2004 when I was new to spoken word, is a “good” loss. He was flawless and that has to be applauded.

A slam victory remains on my poetic bucket list amongst other things. For now, the ink has been allowed to drip again and I’m hoping it doesn’t stop this year.

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New Year New You?

The clock has ticked and we’re now two weeks into 2013. Some people make resolutions, promises
to all and sundry as to what they are going to do differently. As is commonly said, most of that goes
out of the window the moment that life starts to take shape. Would we be better off not making
promises or exclamations? What does new year / fresh start mean to you?

My one and only promise to myself is that I will water and nuture the seeds I had planted last year.
Sometimes we know what we’d like to happen in advance, sometimes we leave it and hope for the best.
If anything, it is most important to be comfortable with the season of life that you are in

It is not about the sweeping changes that you can immediately create or accumulate. It is about how you’re
going to keep going even when you are happy with your curent state of affairs. As a baby when its born,
adapts to its new environment and communicates in the only way it knows how. We must “give birth” to
newness be prepared to adapt/ nurture that through the seasons.

If we truly believe in fresh starts regardless of the time of year then it is for us to lay to rest the stigma
of our bad experiences. Unshackle ourselves from fear and doubt. Ultimately bury the chapter of pain and
never dig up its grave. Accept that season of nothingness as a season of rest. Cling to those things that
make us smile naturally. You don’t need to wake up singing the soundtrack from “Thesound of music”.
Bring yourself to a place of being thankful that somebody, somewhere, was looking out for your suffering to stop.
Accept the light that’s trying to shine in your life.That first minute always seems blinding until you see
something beautiful in the light. Let that first beautiful thing you see, be you!

 

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End of Season Review: The Chrysalis

2012, a year of challenge and change. It has been the end of a long season in my life, and one which I am more than happy to close.  Although I posted a political poem called “Lonely are the Brave” on January 3rd, the first spoken word pieces I wrote this year were actually prayer based during moments of worship. I didn’t post them here as I saw them more as words for the moment. Out of that period of devotion came the message to let go of any baggage I was carrying. I’ve always had a memory for history, it’s one of my all time favourite subjects and didn’t understand why this was a message for me.

I knew this year was a big one as I would turn 30 in July. My usual end of year reflection was starting earlier than normal as “You didn’t know” arrived on February 3rd. Months after writing this I contemplated taking it down as I thought it was one of my weaker pieces. My head told me, on comparison to other people I know, I’d been through nothing. That said, the piece remains and stands as perhaps one of the pieces of “baggage” I had to drop. You have to be careful at what you deem baggage and what you consider mere reflection. I danced in the grey area between the two as I resented certain people because their well intentioned advice had back fired on multiple occasions. After which I’d been told it was my fault for heeding it. Once bitten, twice shy as the saying goes but resentment is a rotting fruit that does nobody any good.

If I had to name a favourite poem that I’ve written this year, I would be torn as it would between “Confession” and “Light A Candle” which I’ll talk about later. The poem which was written posted at the start of March was inspired by A Brian Tracy video that talked about forgiveness. He discussed 5  people you have to forgive in order to have a better life. I was convicted by the message, I searched myself then and there for people I needed to forgive. I didn’t realise that I’d written this so early on in the year yet the impact of forgiving people lifted a huge unknown weight.

First quarter over and it seems I returned back to my typical outputs on relationships or my lack thereof with “I’m Waiting”. Relationships were the least of my problems as I was close to being made homeless despite living in the same property for 7 years. If I was to detail the series of events that I went through while there, we’d be here for a lot longer.  God has a way of causing you to move forward by making it impossible for you to turn back.  Provision is one of three words my church believes in and God provided a new place in a better location before the deadline to move out came.

For the first time in my life I could not write through my stuggle, I had to live through it. I got through this remembering I’d been through things I could consider worse despite the implications. I also remembered that God never gives more than I can bear even if it is painful. With a “Light a Candle” (posted 16th June), it was the only moment  my brain could breathe and let loose on paper. I really wanted to capture a sense of being passed from trial to tribulation and holding onto faith throughout.

It wasn’t until September when I posted a burst of poems including one to reference my 30th Birthday. I was asked a question by a friend that I didn’t know the answer to. Looking back at the poem – it was way too early to know the true answer and so it captured my confusion.  The one thing I wanted to highlight was the idea of making clear choices as as to who and what should stay or go in your life.  This was before I embraced a sermon about seasons  through a series of related posts to my Facebook page.

I also had my 2nd ever radio feature on BlogTalkRadio (1st in Nov 2011) and begun embracing a local open mic. The big thing here that was for 2 hours my mother who had never paid much attention to my creative side listened to it.  Not only that but she was happy and surprised that her seemingly shy son shoots from the hip. To quote an old Jamaican saying ”don’t let duppy fool you”. For someone who prefers metaphors and word play, the straight talking nature has always been a feature of my work. In truth, it felt great that she was positive about this creative side of me.

 

At the end of 2012 I finally feel that I can return back to a new version of my old self that talks about a broader range of topics. Aspects of race, relationships and faith may still be talked about in future yet in discussing or detailing them between 2008 and now….I have grown up. I have accepted my part for better or worse, in the joys and pains of others. I understand, how and why I write as well as the position of poetry in my life. Most of all, I now understand my humanity.

Thanks for reading

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