patriciafostermckenley.com

Professional Poet, Life Coach, Educator, Artist – Runs Workshops, Gives Reiki & Wellbeing Training

Category: #SablePoetInResidence

Sable Poet-In-Residence Patricia Foster McKenley Performs Poetry and Delivers Workshops at the Mboka Festival, 9-14 January 2017, Gambia.

Between 9th and 14th of January 2017, I can safely say I had one of the most life changing experiences during my existence on this Earth.

Late evening of the 8th of January, after a delayed flight, Banjul in Gambia embraced me with open arms, as I visited West Africa for the first time in my life. On the descent from the plane, I momentarily crouched down and touched the Gambian tarmac.

In September 2016, I received a most welcome and at the same time, frightening and exhilarating email from Kadija (George) Sesay, connected to my role as Sable Litmag Poet-in-Residence. The email confirmed my invite to read poetry and deliver workshops, at the SABLE Literary Festival and the Mboka Festival of Arts. The SABLE Literary Festival, is part of the brilliant new collaboration – the Mboka Festival of Arts, Culture and Sport – in warm and delightful Gambia. Mboka means ‘One Family’ in Wolof.

After a 10 year hiatus, the SABLE Literary Festival relaunched, as part of the Mboka Festival, which took place between 7-17 January 2017. 
This assignment, in my role as the first Sable Poet-in-Residence, was an honour and complete privilege. But I was forewarned I would be worked very hard and indeed I was. 

On 9th January 2017, my second day in Gambia, I was extremely excited and equally nervous to be reading that night, at my first ever poetry event in West Africa. In fact, my first ever poetry reading on the continent of Africa. The reading, where I was also a special guest and highly anticipated poet (apparently my online presence and videos were searched for and watched), took place at the new African Poetry Library, also known as Mango Tree (due to the impressive mango tree in its yard). To top it all, the event was captured for the news on Gambian national television.

Patricia Foster McKenley Reading at the Mboka Literary Festival 2017 launch. Photo courtesy of Kadija George.Patricia Foster McKenley Reading at the Mboka Literary Festival 2017 launch. Photo courtesy of Kadija George.

I was exposed to many young, talented Gambian poets and spoken word artists, in particular the dynamic poetry outfit and writers’ group ‘The Clouds’. I was deeply honoured to share the stage with them. 

Patricia Foster McKenley with The Cloud writing collective. Photo: Clovis McKenleyPhoto: Clovis McKenley

I was even more flattered when I was invited by The Clouds to deliver a lecture and talk to them two days later (Wednesday 11th January 2017). My talk focussed on my journey and Life As a Poet since 2001, my role as Sable Poet-in-Residence, plus writing tips they could apply on their own writing journey. This was delivered at their headquarters in Banjul (the capital). I was left very impressed with their business ideas and set up. 

Patricia Foster McKenley delivering lecture in Gambia. Photo: Clovis McKenleyPhoto: Clovis McKenley

Photo: Clovis McKenley

Spending time with The Clouds also gave me an insight into the political and socio dynamic background for young people and their desire for a greater entrepreneurial spirit in Gambia. They spoke eloquently about the potential for Gambia, at a time when Gambia itself was experiencing a shift in presidential personnel. 

On Thursday 12th January 2017, also as part of the Sable Literary Festival and Mboka Festival, I was programmed to deliver a workshop at The African Poetry Library. After much soul searching, deliberation, hair pulling and brow wipes from my (then soon-to-be) fiancé (and my now husband), I finally prepared a keynote presentation, then took a taxi down to the African Poetry Library. The numbers were small, but the workshop produced great discussion and varied and rich pieces of writing.

Patricia Foster McKenley facilitating workshop at Mboka Festival, Gambia, 2017. Photo: Clovis McKenleyPhoto: Clovis McKenley

Friday 13th January was the showcase for the The Mboka Festival. This was held at the beautiful Senegambia Hotel and included the introduction of our esteemed Kenyan writer and keynote speaker Ngugui Wa Thiong’o, who had only arrived in Gambia from California that afternoon, to a traditional and grand drum, dance and song welcome (which was captured on film and posted on YouTube). As well as myself reading a set of poetry to my own produced soundscape and imagery, the evening contained UK based Numbi Arts and their beautiful collaboration with local artists and musicians, storyteller Nzinga and US based half Gambian academic and poet Rosamund S. King.

Photo: Clovis McKenley
Photo: Clovis McKenley
Photo: Clovis McKenley
Photo: Clovis McKenley

Photo: Clovis McKenley

On Saturday 14th January, I was gifted an opportunity that created an immense shift in me as a poetry educator. Even though incredibly challenging due to the size of the class, their delay en route due to traffic, the language hurdles to overcome and the different learning needs, I thoroughly enjoyed delivering a poetry workshop to the Jambanjelly Basic Cycle School, again at the African Poetry Library, a.k.a. Mango Tree, in Banjul Gambia. The thirty-five eager to learn, polite, endearing students, aged eleven to sixteen or seventeen, also overcame shyness and came to grips with my Jamaican British cultural nuances, to produce some excellent work. A presentation of their work, as well as recitals of their favourite poems took place out in the yard, under the mango tree. One of the most rewarding experiences of my life, without a doubt. I’ll be eternally grateful to this wonderful school for having me! 

Photo: Clovis McKenley
Photo: Clovis McKenley
Photo: Clovis McKenley

Later that evening, after a searching high and low before sampling vegan Lebanese food, we took a couple of taxi rides to see the excellent production of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s play ‘The Black Hermit’, at Ebunjan Theatre in Bakau, The Gambia. Expertly directed by Janet Badjan-Young, she later stated, “It is a very relevant play for The New Gambia.” The Black Hermit was commissioned by The Mboka Festival and was well received.
Sunday 15th January 2017, the early part of our last day in Gambia was spent exploring the beach, packing and saying our goodbyes to the lovely staff at our hotel. With luggage in toe, we went down to the Senegambia again to attend the brilliant talk given by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. His lasting message to Mboka Festival attendees, particularly local Gambian writers and creatives, was his encouragement ‘to nurture and publish both written and spoken Gambian languages’ to sustain their heritage. Prior to Ngũgĩ’s talk, was a book launch for Rosamond S. King’s collection of poems Rock| Salt| Stone, published by Nightboat Books. 
My week of delivering workshops and poetry, woven between meeting Caribbean-British recently relocated to Gambia, eating and devouring delicious Domoda with vegetables and African fried rice, drinking refreshing ginger and sorrel drinks, visiting a Gambian primary school and being energised and revitalised by the gorgeous Gambian beaches, was over within a matter of hours. Flickers of wonderful memories matching the blinking city night lights of Banjul, as our plane hovered back to rainy London.

Only two days after we returned from Gambia, the outgoing president conceded defeat and the new President was received, heralding new hope and a new direction for beautiful Gambia.

I will be forever grateful for the trust and belief in me, as well as the mentorship provided by Kadija (George) Sesay and Dorothea Smartt, which enabled me to have such a rewarding, character building, culturally engaging and memorable experience that will stay with me my entire life.
By Patricia Foster McKenley.

#SablePoetInResidence #MbokaFestival2017 

Sources: 

A snapshot of The Gambia’s Mboka Festival of Arts Culture and Sport 2017

Posted by James Murua

Link:

http://www.jamesmurua.com/snapshot-gambias-mboka-festival-arts-culture-sport-2017/

This article was first published in: Sable Poet-in-Residence Patricia Foster Reads Poetry and Delivers Workshops at Mboka Festival, Gambia, 2017’,  June 2017. Link: https://www.peepaltreepress.com/blog/inscribe/sable-poet-residence-patricia-foster-reads-poetry-and-delivers-workshops-mboka

‘At The Inkwell London’ Christmas Special! Thursday December 15th 2016. Doors 6:30pm. Show 7-9pm. CHANGE TO LINEUP! Featuring: Abby Ladbrooke, Cath Drake, Jude Cowan Montague and Jane Grell. Hosted by Poet Patricia Foster and writer/journalist Rachel Rigby. Counter Albion, 45 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch E2 7DJ.

‘At The Inkwell London’ Christmas Special!
Thursday December 15th 2016

Counter Albion Café, 45 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7DJ.

Map

Doors: 6:30pm. Show 7-9pm
There has been a slight change to our lineup!

Featuring: Abby Ladbrooke, Cath Drake, Jude Cowan Montague and Jane Grell


FREE! Open mic too!

Literary feast of writers served up just for you.

Healthy delicious food and drink to purchase. 
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1274110802660527/

Original Design by Monique Lewis. Image by Patricia Foster.

I feel really honoured to be co-hosting the final ‘At The Inkwell London’ of 2016. What a year it has been. The US reading series, devised and founded by the brilliant and talented Monique Lewis, has really captured the imagination of writers and audiences in London since its July 2016 launch in the UK. 

Myself and my wonderful co-hosts Rachel Rigby and Gemma Weekes look forward to bringing you more from ‘At The Inkwell London’ in 2017.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic 2017!
Meet our features below:

 

Jude Cowan Montague


Jude Cowan Montague is an artist, writer and composer whose work may be playful, truthful, mysterious and subversive. She explores story, song, and visual ideas. The worlds she creates are often inspired by her professional life in broadcast media. Her most recent collection of poems ‘The Wires:2012’ (2016) is published by Wisdom’s Bottom Press.

http://www.judecowanmontague.com/

Jane Grell

Jane Ulysses Grell is a storyteller, writer, teacher, poet and singer. She was born and grew up on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Her poetry and storytelling are imbued with the love of the music of words in the spirit of the vibrant African-Caribbean Oral Tradition.
Jane has worked extensively with children, young people and adults in most London boroughs and beyond. She has presented stories and poetry for BBC Radio Schools’ Programmes.

Her poetry collections – Praise Songs and White River Blues conjure up a vivid landscape which embraces both the traditional and the modern and explore journeys, memories and loss through poems both tender and exuberant. 

“Jane, it would seem that some of Ananse’s stories went to you. You tell them so well. – Sarah Woodham (Leytonstone Festival 2013)

www.janegrellstoryteller.com

Cath Drake

An Australian from Perth lured to London in 2001, Cath Drake has been published in anthologies and literary magazines in UK, Australia and US. She has performed in many cafes, bookshops, theatres, festivals and for unsuspecting passers by. She runs writing workshops to recharge creativity and is passionate about taking poetry and creative writing to new spaces. In 2012, she was short-listed for the Venture Poetry Award, awarded an Arts Council England grant and was writer in residence at the Albany Arts Centre café. Cath won the 2013 Mslexia/Seren poetry pamphlet prize and her pamphlet ‘Sleeping with Rivers’ was published in 2014 by Seren Books. It was the Poetry Book Society’s summer choice. Cath’s poetry was included in Best Austrailan Poetry 2014 (Black Inc books) and she was short-listed for the 2015 Manchester Poetry Prize. She is also a copywriter and non-fiction writer and her work includes award-winning journalism, writing for radio, oral history and life stories. 

Cath Drake Communications: http://cathdrakecomms.com/

Poetry and creative work: http://cathdrake.com/

Abby Ladbrooke

ABBY LADBROOKE is an active member of the London Bridge Writers’ group, finds writing thrilling and feels most herself when writing, reading and talking about writing. Abby has attended several short, creative writing courses, with tutors Maggie Hammond, Howard Cunnell, Naomi Wood and Christie Watson. She is co-founder of a boutique recruitment and training company, which has published a pocket book which she co-authored and edited. Abby is part way through her first novel which explores the missed love between two people through the soul of their child never born.

At The Inkwell London Launch 21 July 2016! Co-hosted by Poet/Novelist/Singer Gemma Weekes, Journalist Rachel Rigby and ‘Sable Poet-in-Residence’ Patricia Foster. Paying Homage to Prince and David Bowie.

At The Inkwell London launch 21 July 2016! The inaugural event pays homage to Prince & David Bowie. Come down. Sign up early for the open mic.

 

Poet Patricia Foster Performs at ‘Palabras – The Reunion’ or ‘Palabras- De Reünie’, at The Paradiso, Amsterdam. 6th March 2016

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Sunday 6th March 2016, was perhaps one of the most memorable days I have had where poetry is concerned. I was honoured and privileged to be a part of the 'Palabras The Reunion' show, at the world renowned Paradiso, Amsterdam.

Here are a few highlights:

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(Oops! Obviously, I meant to say "you can see the lovely canal" not "river"!)

 

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YouAreYOU founder, Award-Winning Poet, Sable Poet-In-Residence & Holistic Life Coach Patricia Foster to facilitate at ‘Every Woman Inspired’ conference, Ocho Rios Jamaica 18 & 19 October 2015

News From YouAreYOU founder, Award-Winning Poet, Sable Poet-In-Residence and Holistic Life Coach Patricia Foster 
     

 I am extremely excited to share I will be one of the international facilitators and speakers at the incredible 3rd annual 

Every Woman Inspired 2015 conference, 

to be held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica 

18 & 19 October 2015. 

Tickets going fast!
‘If you are a woman living in Jamaica, The Caribbean, USA or The UK, who is looking to be inspired and empowered, why not attend this year’s event.’
Venue: Hibiscus Lodge HotelOcho Rios, Jamaica

For more information and booking details, visit:

http://www.everywomaninspired.org/

#Jamaica

#EveryWomanInspired #EWI

#OchoRios

#HibiscusLodgeHotel

#StAnnesBay

#InspirationForWomen

#EmpowermentForWomen

#WomensEvent

#SablePoetInResidence