Attended the Young Muslim Writers Awards ceremony yesterday alongside these guys and gals in the picture. ANY award ceremony that has Marie Antoinette handing out the prizes is going to be a blast, and it certainly was.
Then we have Dreadlockalien as the master of ceremonies and Anna Perera, author of the amazing Guantanamo Boy.
I think what pleased me was the break in the standard 'po-faced' nature of the awards. The art was supplied by graffiti artist Mohammed Ali and a poetry from international slam champion Warsan Shire. Frankly far, far more fun that the Muslim events I used to go to, back in my distant, hazy youth. The competition was for under 16's and it's awesome they had the courage to get down and write. Now I don't mean stories about knights and quests and dragons and the undead, stuff that don't mean much and while, hey, immense fun, isn't nourishment for the soul. But what they feel, what they believe and what they want the world to know. It's certainly a courage I find difficult to access, even now.
Anyway, to the writers and poets who entered and to ANYONE writing and rhyming.
Have something to say and say it out LOUD.
People will try and shut you up. They'll mock you, say that your words are wrong, or stupid, or not important.
If it's important to you, say it LOUD and CLEAR.
This is what art is, ultimately. It's souls speaking to each other.
Remember that as well as telling a good story, you want to tell a meaningful story. A story that lingers and is remembered long after. Maybe not the words or a clever bit of dialogue, but the spirit the writer was trying to awaken in you.
Every now and then I get taught a lesson about writing. Yesterday's was both a lesson and a warning. About writing and the power of words. There's an obligation to use them well and it's something those children at the awards yesterday knew better than I.