Why do you feel so strongly about the issue of Hindu-Muslim strained ties? (in reference to her book “Like Smoke”)
“It’s a conversation that happens a lot, even amongst children. In a school, I was in a staff room, it was the break time and I heard “I hate muslims” come flying up at me, and it really was like an arrow that pierced through my brain. I looked out to see who it was, and there was this girl, very loudly saying this, and a group of friends nodding in agreement.
And I then noticed one kid standing, a little apart, ashen faced, rooted to the spot – Likely, he was Muslim. And they hadn’t cared about that. And why were these 13-14 year olds even thinking this, let alone saying it out loud… where was this hate coming from? I knew I was on the right track when, after the book came out and I did a reading in a school and a boy said to me “I agree with what you said in the book, the story, that all Muslims are not terrorists. But you’ll have to agree with me when I say that almost all terrorists are Muslims. What do you have to say about that?”
And everybody was nodding. So I said, “Alright, let’s take out the thing of religion for a moment. Let’s look at something else. Let’s look at a crime like rape. We can all agree all men are not rapists.” These were 12-13 year old kids and the teachers were uncomfortable that I said the word. But it’s not a word that’s new to kids. “But you’ll have to agree with me that almost all rapists are men. So, using your logic, must we treat all men as potential rapists? Hating them, for no other reason that they are men? So, child, I don’t even know you, but should I start treating you as a potential rapist then? SImply because you’re a boy? And I’ll assume you’re going to grow up to become a rapist – is that okay with you? It’s your logic. And the whole auditorium burst into applause, including this boy. Afterwards, this boy said, “No one explained it to me in a way that i really got it.” These are not my words or my feelings – they never will be. But young people are talking like that, so I needed to write that story.”
“I am known as the Green Poet of UK. I have been running a campaign since 2009 for saving the environment through the power of poetry. ”
“Before this I spent most of my life as a composer for film and television. I think with the growth of television and video material on the internet, the time spend reading has been reduced. Poetry is great for children as it a communicator that can take a message and put it down in short writing for different age groups.
For me, music and poetry are very different disciplines. Even so, the pace, rhythm, flow and choice of words used in my poetry is impacted by the music running through my veins. I enjoy the influence of of music and mathematics on poetry. I think I am always working to such deadlines and the greatest challenge is when life’s challenges hit you at a time when you have to work intensively with your art. I can remember a point when my marriage broke apart while at the same time received an offer for a major film score. Luckily for a lot of artists, they can use their emotion to create and feed their art. I think like any artistic discipline there will always be changes that will be born by the imagination of artists and it is a good thing that change is always welcome. One of the difficulties with popular music over the last 20 years has been the growth of sampling technology and the birth of the loop in music. As soon as you rely on this, you restrict yourself from the capacity of development. Historically there have been some extraordinary gifts that have been given to music at this time in order to increase the capacity that music can stretch to. Composers have made remarkable contributions towards music and this industry. I think there was a greater concentration on storytelling at an earlier time and found their origins in musicals thus having a narrative connection. However most songs coming out on the charts today have a vignette of a story being told but not only great narrative scale. Even so, this completely depends on the intention of the lyricist. For a song to have a deep meaningful effect, it must reflect onto a pivotal moment in life as we know it that has some sense of exploring a narrative. This is why I think we attach more to songs that come from the sense. What we are expected to take away from a song today is very different than what it used to be. I believe in a quote by a French writer saying, “Whatever you do that can be done by somebody else, don’t do it. Whatever you say that can be said somebody else, don’t say it. Whatever you write that can be written by somebody else, don’t write it. Be faithful to that which exists nowhere, except in you. And through that therefore make yourself indispensable.”
During the NFL it has been great to take part in discussions and working with children has been amazing.”
“When somebody is reading a book, the reader is controlling the pace at which the images are coming in and you can take time to process this. ”
“This is what makes age restrictions on movies different from that on books. When I first started writing, expectations were very low as writing was a quiet aspiration I had however when it got published, I had to do so much more to be recognized, remembered and established.
It is a struggle for everybody to find a balance between doing the different things you love. I think we are seeing couple different trends in terms of reading. There is a lot of digital reading that is coming and stories are taking different shapes in forms, all of which are not bad. It is still important though to nourish kids with books to keep a good level of reading alive. There has been a lot of thoughtful conversation and production of books where there is an emphasis on making sure that children have access to authors that represent themselves thus representing diversity. This is so that children see themselves in books rather than reading about superficial characters. One important thing is for parents to model what they want to do such as creating good reading habits. It is also important to make a space for reading and read cautiously. Nothing will happen by accident and if you really want to have something such as good reading habits, we have to decide that is important and make space for it. “The NFL has been an inspiring two way street where readers are inspired by authors and authors have been inspired by readers.”