patriciafostermckenley.com

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

Category: Storyteller for Black History Month

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

Poet Patricia Foster McKenley, Reading from ‘Filigree: Contemporary Black British Poetry’, at Ilkley Literature Festival, 14th October 2018. 


‪I’m delighted to share that I will be reading poetry at Ilkley Literature Festival on Sunday 14 October 2018. I’ll be sharing the stage with Maya Chowdhry, Nick Makoha and Rishi Dastidar to promote the new anthology Filigree: Contemporary Black British Poetry, which we will all be published in. 

Edited by Nii Parkes and Inscribe Series/Peepal Tree. Editor Kadija Sesay.

Host on the day is Pete Kalu.

Reading at Ilkley Festival is something I have always wanted to do. Being included in this anthology, which includes a wealth of Black British writers, is a huge honour. I am indebted to Nii Parkes and Kadija Sesay for their brilliant editing, encouragement, nurturing and support. 

Featuring past and present writers from Malikas Poetry Kitchen.

Very excited!

Hope to see you there.
Venue: St Margaret’s Hall, Queens Road, Ilkley LS29 9QL

Date: Sunday 14th October 2018

Time: 4:45pm

Price: £7 / £5

Patricia Foster – Poet, Educator and Inspirational Workshops

“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
~ Albert Einstein

Photo: Giorgis Media

Photo: Giorgis Media

Photo: Celile Stille

Photo: Celile Stille

Teaching, Training and Coaching – the connection from my soul to the Universe. My gift to all. I love what I do and enjoy doing what I love! This quote by Albert Einstein probably explains why I love to create the best learning environment for my learners, of all ages and abilities!

 
My approach to education is unique, empathic, holistic, creative and empowering. My aim is to empower individuals of all ages and sections of the community, to be the best person they can be. To guide them to uncover their own inner tools and gifts to succeed in life. To help improve their lives and wellbeing through poetry, writing, creativity, multi media, coaching, consultancy and holistic health & nutrition advice.
 

I am available for poetry workshops, as well as creative, multi media, personal development and wellbeing workshops, in any establishment – the more unusual, the better! I can also provide consultancy or guide you through the steps to set up your community multi media project.

If you require an internationally recognised professional poet for:

  • Primary or Secondary Schools
  • PSHE Classes
  • Assemblies
  • Black History Month
  • National Poetry Day
  • World Book Day
  • International Women’s Day
  • Residencies
  • Interactive or Traditional Storytelling
  • Corporate Training Days
  • Team Building Events
  • Workshops with Senior Citizens
  • Workshops in Youth and Community Groups
  • Workshops on Bullying
  • Workshops in Pupil Referal Units (PRUs)
  • Workshops in Libraries
  • Workshops in Prisons

contact me and I’ll guarantee a stimulating, positive and engaging session.

Check out the rest of my site to find out what other training and education services I can provide.