I’m a poet scriptwriter and a performer as well as a Visiting Teaching fellow for Manchester Metropolitan University. I also teach all that I do.
Tell us a bit about your connection with STUN.
I’ve been given this wonderful free space to rehearse in, its really good support and over time have been impressed by the work they do.
What got you started?
I’ve always written, I just didn’t realize I was writing poetry. I thought it was a diary, it turned out they were poems.
I went to help the Asian Women’s Writer’s Collective in London, one of the founding members is Rukhsana Ahmed, I was a business woman then. I went to help with the business side and started sitting in on some of their reading sessions. I took a poem in Urdu into one reading, and the visiting writer said it was too bold and sexy to be written in Urdu by a woman. Its been one of my most popular poems every since. I also have it in English and its called ‘Pull of Attraction’.
What was your big breakthrough?
My first break through was getting the ‘Asian Writer Residency’ in Blackburn. It was a 9 month job and I moved from London to Yorkshire to do it. It was amazing, the people were welcoming, I learnt to admit that I was a writer and other jobs followed through. I’m still in touch with the people I worked with and I’m still working as a writer!
What’s the best advice you’ve had?
Never do anything for nothing as an artist and look after yourself always.
Every time I get commissioned (laughs), booked for a gig, get to perform, see my work being produced, its a high point all the time being a working writer.
My latest was being sent by Manchester Metropolitan University as one of their tutors to be part of the ‘Emirates Airlines Literature Festival’ in Dubai, February 2014. I performed my latest project ‘ Hidden Stories’ at a school and ran a monologue writing workshop. I also taught scriptwriting for two days to adults at the festival. There were just under 300 of the most well-known writers in the world at it and me, it was an awesome experience. In the way the festival team looked after us, the programme they had for the festival and Dubai as a city was welcoming, safe, a beautiful place to be in, an amazing mix of East and West. I felt very much at home.
Can you describe your process?
My process often begins with a theme or an idea, its always based on fact. The poems arrive sometimes fully formed, other times needing lots of thinking and tinkering. Plays involve taking the idea to a commissioner as a pitch, and playing a waiting game until commissioned. Then the work of writing the play begins. I am very methodical. I have a daily target of hours, pages, deadlines for various drafts and final draft deadline. I work well following a strict timetable. Together with visiting the gym daily and eating healthy, sleeping early until the work is done. Then I don’t sleep, party all hours, eat anything and everything.
One of my latest radio plays ‘The Lost Salford Sioux’s idea came to me from an an exhibition, ‘Death In The Working Classes’. Which I was invited to by People’s History Museum. It was amazing and very inspiring about how the working classes have dealt with death and funerals over time. Encouraged by my radio drama producer Polly Thomas, I submitted an idea to BBC Radio Drama on 3 about exploring death in the Salford communities and how it was dealt with and finding a play in the real stories. Its was commissioned and transmitted in 2012.