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October 2018 ~ Manchester’s month of all things Art!

Manchester really is the place to be as it nears October every year. Authors, poets and artists from all over the globe start making their way to our city. This year we were spoilt for choice with Greater Manchester’s Black History Month, Cultureword’s 9th Black National Writers Conference featuring the Over Here Zine Fest and Manchester Literature Festival all happening at once. And it’s also our first year as a UNESCO City Of Literature!

I managed to get to a few events and know for sure that I now have much lighter pockets but can console myself that I may have an enriched mind.

At the Black Writers Conference, I discovered new ways of bringing poetry into code generation at the Digital Literature presentation. Digital artist and film maker Mahboobeh Rajabi created QR codes to access the writing of the late poet and activist Deyika and placed them across locations in Manchester that he frequented. A beautiful tribute for an amazing man. And what a great idea!

We gained an insight as to what happens when writers and gamers come together. For more on these Commonword commissions, make sure you visit their website. Its fascinating and you’ll be pleased to know you can sign up for sessions exploring this.

My favourite part of this particular session was no doubt the augmented realities created by artists Kooj Chohan and Maya Chawdhry for her ‘Heritage Carrot’ poem touching on themes of migration and growth. Together they took us on a train journey through a suitcase set in Hulme gardens – a mesmerising  audience experience.

At the Literature & Mental Health session with writers Desree Reynolds, Muli Amaye and Kei Miller, the concept of shame and self-censorship within writing was raised. Discussions followed about the responsibility of accurate representation and the process of self care when writing our trauma and the steps we must take while doing so.

Entering the hall of Sacha’s hotel, I met incredible artists displaying their work at the Zine Fest. The atmosphere was electric and the sheer quality of the work on display was unbelievable. I cannot emphasise enough, the comfort you feel picking up an accessible pocket size treasure of a zine that is made by someone who gets your struggle, looks like you and can validate the everyday lived experience you go through. Or maybe not. But you will definitely gain new perspectives. Making, reading, sharing and promoting these accesible  zines created by diverse people is a means to learning and listening. In solidarity. With an open heart. Check them out!

A discussion about the new film ‘The Hate You Give’ written by Angie Thomas also took place during the Zine Fest- I’ll be catching this movie next week and have heard its raw reality makes it a must see. It follows events in the life of a 16 year old black girl who is drawn to activism after witnessing the police shooting of a childhood friend. Less of an eye opener but more a reminder that we must keep pushing for change.

That evening, I was blown away by poetry and music in celebration of THE James Baldwin at the Manchester Literature Festival’s Cabaret For Freedom event held within St John’s church.

With one of my favourite poets Jackie Kay reading ‘April Sunshine’ to SuAndi sharing stories, to Young Identity performing poetry with the formidable Shirley May hosting, Isaiah Hull reading from his poetry collection ‘Nosebleeds’ to Kei Miller’s heart warming sharing of his letters to James Baldwin, I was soaring high by the end of it all.

Other highlights included Slay In Your Lane : The Black Girl Bible by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene with Gemma Cairney. Such frank and honest talking – Black Girl Magic at its best!

I also caught some of my favourite brown girl poets, The Yoniverse who are made up of Afshan D’souza-Lodhi, Shagufta K Iqbal and Amani Saeed. Bold and unapologetically South Asian, I am definitely a fan girl.

This Friday, I was able to hear amazing poetry from Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Rachel Long and Momtaza Mehri speaking about the ‘unspoken essential’ and the ‘intangible tangible’ from the new Filigree anthology. Hosted by Dorothea Smartt of Inscribe/People Press, each and every poet moved me as she introduced the ‘new emerging voices of Black Britain’.

To end the night, Terrence Hayes read from his new collection American Sonnets For My Past And Future Assassin and he was superb. Hosted by winner of the 2018 Dylan Thomas prize Kayo Chingonyi, the conversation was engaging and fresh. He spoke of the decipline it took to write over 200 sonnets, a new one each day. When asked how much the act of playing informs his work, he said of his childhood, ‘getting out of trouble required play. It’s connected to risk, to urgency. The poems are trying to tap into something that’s necessary for survival.’ Terrance spoke about how his  imagination was better than his memory and how through this gift of optimism he is able to create something much more positive than the reality he faced in the past.

He spoke highly of Wanda Coleman, the poet, friend and activist this collection is inspired by despite the world’s attempts to erase black female creativity. She inspired him to embrace a poems unevenness, lifting the burden and pressure that the inevitable pursuit of perfection brings. I thoroughly  recommend his collection and will say, catch him while you can.

It was great to see so many poets gathered in the audience to listen. We all managed to have a picture taken thanks to the formidable Sarah-Jane of Manchester Literature Festival.

I managed to catch ‘The Adventure’ by Vinay Patel too at the Bush Theatre – it was EPIC and very beautifully done. A love story spanning 7 decades from the partition of India in 1947 to present day. One of the best pieces of theatre I have seen.

Next week I’ll be catching poet and performer Elmi Ali in his play ‘Water Seeds Not Stones’ at HOME and also Salina Thompson’s Salt!

Will tell you all about it later! X


My Oct 7th 2018 Manchester Literature Festival book launch – hurrah!!!

So after months of labouring away on what I can officially call my debut poetry collection, ‘The Celox And The Clot’, I had my book launch at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester as part of the Manchester Literature Festival 2018 produced by our very own Outside The Frame Arts.

With Sarah Yaseen’s mesmerising soundscapes that made the words of my poem dance and dedicated direction by Nikki Mailer with visuals by Andrea and immense support by Sarah-Jane & Cathy at Manchester Literature Festival, the atmosphere was electric!

I’m still basking from the love that was in the room. And a full house sold-out event at that. Hearing the cheering, crying, clicking or whispering from the audience especially when a poet is performing is always encouraging and the audience did not falter.

From pin drop silence during poems, ‘I Will Tell God Everything’ penned after witnessing photographs of barrel bomb injuries in Syria to the roaring laughter during ‘Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy’ after a traffic warden gave me a parking ticket, to the quiet familiarity for those in difficult relationships with ‘Teaspoons’, to the heartwarming recognition of traditional folksongs of resistance with ‘Songs Of Protest’, the audience were taken on a journey that moved them in all sorts of ways.

I thank each and every person who got me here – it really does take a village to make a book! My acknowledgment page is filled with those people – my people. Buy the book and search for yourself!

The link to purchase a copy of my book published by the amazing Burning Eye Books :

So make yourself a brew, cosy up on a sofa and read the collection late into the night. And when you’re through, let me know your thoughts! ❤️

For those of you who want a little taster of the launch :

‘I loved watching Hafsah Aneela Bashir perform, read, sing, make our eyes well up, make us laugh! What a way to kick off the Manchester Literature Festival.’ – Shahid Iqbal Khan

”Absolutely mind blowing performance by Hafsah Aneela Bashir today at the launch of her debut poetry book ‘The Celex And The Clot’. Her and her team created such a magical atmosphere, and her words took everyone on a journey of beauty, sorrow and joy. So proud of her!’ – Ali Ilyaas Raza

‘Hafsah Aneela Bashir’s book launch. Inspiring, elegant and energising. Thank you for a lovely evening.’ – Nabila Jameel

‘There are some performances that lift you from the core and give you life. Hafsah Aneela Bashir blew me away today, accompanied by the beautiful music of Sarah Yaseen, her spoken word was powerful, emotional, witty and seeped in nostalgia.’ – Ayesha Razia

The Celox and the Clot by Hafsah Aneela Bashir – Burning Eye Books

The Celox and the Clot by Hafsah Aneela Bashir – Burning Eye Books
— Read on

Shots In The Dark 8/6/2018

It’s been a very busy few weeks as I prepare for Outside The Frame Arts, July scratch performance of Cuts Of The Cloth ( more details to follow – we are super-excited! ).

For those of you who don’t know, this is our play exploring Muslim women and their relationship with the cloth in a society obsessed with the policing of the female body so watch this space about this particular project!

In other news, myself and a whole host of wonderful writers from all backgrounds have been indulging in the genre of crime fiction. A chance to really delve into the dark side of human nature, we have created flash fiction that has been brought together by Cultureword in the new anthology ‘Shots In The Dark’.

Published by Crocus Books the micro narratives promise, ‘Bludgeonings. Distorted lives. Small victories in narrow mean worlds. Bizarre punishments and extraordinary vengeance. Dogs, bears, fish and humans – always humans – clustered and clashing in desolate landscapes. Crimes passionels. The after-effects of war. The enduring effects of race. Trauma. Badness. Rawness. Grief. Sigh. Phantasmagorical. Surreal. Hyper-real. This is desperation poured near into a black chalice.’

Last night we had an awesome celebration bringing some of the authors into the intimate setting of Three Minute Theatre in Manchester. Hosted by the ‘hostess with the mostest’ Heena Patel, we heard what David Gaffney describes as, ‘mini beasts full of suspense, violence, fear and shock with incredible characters and fascinating settings’ and we carried these stories long into the night after the event had finished.

If you want to have a read, they are available to purchase. Email to order your copy.

Special thanks to Commonword who have supported my journey and a countless amount of other writers over many years giving us space to develop and grow.

And finally – a shoutout to all the awesome contributors in the book who have become an inspiring creative family of support for one another, all the authors who made it last night for the reading – you were great to listen to and share space with and waves of support for all the ones who couldn’t make it – you were missed! X

Umbrage & Suffrage

The lovely Scottish poet laureate, Jackie Kay, ran a brilliant creative workshop on Thursday at The Working Class Museum in Salford. Focused on the importance of making your voice heard, we spent time looking at dissenting voices over the years, and the impact of resistance and resilience today. We explored artefacts from the era of the Suffragettes.

And I even wrote a poem I had been carrying for years but could never pen, about the racism my dad endured at the Ford, Dagenham plant in the 70’s & 80’s. The prompt given was to write about the ways that someone we know may have resisted. And it’s weird – I always felt that that particular poem would be hard to write but after sharing it with the group, I have decided I may add the poem to my collection out in October published by Burning Eye Books.

We had deep discussions about what it means to have a voice, to be silent, what we lose and what we gain, what it means to grieve and how by sharing stories, so many people are brought to the room through our memories, to also share space.

It was an honour to spend time with the very inspiring Jackie Kay for an afternoon that ended too quickly!

It’s been so long!

So many exciting things are on the horizon so a blog post to remind me of not only what’s been achieved so far but also what joys are lining up ahead, is definitely in order!

Where do I start? My collective Outside The Frame Arts ( if you’re not doing so already, follow us on Twitter @artsOTF or join us on Facebook or Instagram ) has been busy at the The Edge Theatre & Arts Centre in Chorlton, creating a theatre piece centred around Muslim women’s relationship with the cloth.

It’s been a real pleasure meeting women from all walks of life such as spoken word artist, Amerah Saleh, photojournalist and political cartoonist Sabiheh Awanzai and writer and researcher Sumaya Kassim to name a few. Hearing their stories and exploring the richness that the intersects of our identity(ies) bring to these conversations found us navigating a much more nuanced dialogue far removed from the assumption that Muslim women are a monolith.

If you’re curious as to what we’ve been creating, we’d love to see you at the Oldham Live@the library, Open Space Festival on the 25th July 2018 where a scratch performance will take place. Tickets to be released soon.

We have also been regularly making our way to hilly Haslingdon joining the lively APNA women exploring home, partition, belonging and what it means to rebuild our sense of selves when the trauma of losing all we know, impacts us. We have had the pleasure of hearing new writing as we’ve shared poetry and plays centred around the 1947 partition of India and the 1948 Nakba of Palestine.

Between performing for Manchester Literature Festival supporting the formidable Black American poet Danez Smith, watching Black Men Walking written by the rapper Testament, AKA Andy Brooks, and also catching the Moonwatcher written by Shamshad Khan and Bob Firth at The Royal Exchange, sharing poems at For Books Sakes spoken word night, judging Cheadles Got Talent’s open mic category, winning tickets to Southbank WOW Festival to hear author of Why I Am No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Rene Eddo-Lodge in conversation with the fabulous ( I’m a huge fan! ) Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie AND catching the lovely Scottish poet and novelist Jackie Kay with the inspiring #BlackLivesMatter founder and author of When They Call You A Terrorist, Patrisse Kahn-CullorsI have also been burrowing away at my writer’s desk working on a manuscript. Yes I have honestly!

It’s my debut poetry collection, The Celox And The Clot, due to be released in October 2018 by Burning Eye Books!

I would love to see you at the launch at HOME Theatre, in Manchester, where I will be sharing some poetry and you can get yourself a copy too on the day. I’ll be sharing details nearer the time so do watch this space.

Till then, Happy World Poetry Day!