Having missed the first TCFT, due to my financially messy life and trying to squeeze in as many shifts as possible when finding out about the event, I was surprised at how much this second session meant to me.
You see, amongst all my craziness in life of feeling low and struggling and pushing through, I was hit by a car whilst trying to safely get me and my drunk sister home from her idol, Beyoncé's concert. This meant a lot of blood, an ambulance, stitches, a chipped tooth and a broken femur. The last of which being the last realised, but the most impactful, in so many ways.
Having gone through surgery, I realised I would be staying in hospital until I was back up on my feet, which meant cancelling my plans for what was going to be an extremely busy week. However, when residing myself to the fact that there was a lot that I could not do, I decided to focus on that which I could do and this, for me, became getting out of the hospital by Friday – Saturday at the latest – so that I could attend TCFT on the Sunday.
Every day became its own little challenge: of first sitting, then standing, then taking a step, then walking with a frame, then crutches, then learning how to climb up and down stairs, but I had my goal in sight. So I paced myself, stayed motivated and worked hard towards my goal, and though it was not easy, it was so worth it. Just two days after leaving the hospital, I managed to get myself up, smash down all the social anxiety and awkwardness I had in my mind, and make my way to join fellow creative minds at the Poetry Prescribed workshop.
I felt nervous, still getting used to my crutches, with obvious scars and a limp, but also because I no longer consider myself a writer, having not written anything substantial or interesting in a very long time. It was a year since I had even made an attempt at a poem. So I really thought I would end up standing out in more ways than one.
I think I had done myself some good, however, having attended a few spoken word events and been inspired, but busy. Then it almost seemed planned somehow that I was lying in a hospital bed with a clear mind and a lot of time on my hands, because it almost seemed as though I was ready to not just give life a second shot, but also my thoughts, my words and my ideas. So being given a real chance to sit down with others, in a safe place and put pen to paper, left me feeling well informed as well as in the right place both physically and mentally.
I found the atmosphere, vibe and discussion so helpful to really get all the cogs turning in my brain. I was happy, really genuinely happy and felt a huge sense of achievement in myself to have made it and managed to sit through the entire day. I found all the information in the pack so useful and easy to relate to, in so many ways, and felt encouraged and reassured by the sharing of experiences, reservations, thoughts and feelings. Delving straight into the minds of those you do not know rather than the superficial facts of where they are from, how old, what they do etc. I find it so much more rewarding and insightful to ask the bigger questions about belief, sadness, memories and what brings joy.
I managed to produce two pieces of what I think classify as poetry. One, just free verse inspired by some prompt words and the discussion we had throughout the day. The other, a blackout poem, something which I had never done before and found a little challenging since the piece of literature I was given was on golf and I was determined not to write a poem about that.
I surprised myself as well by staying for the sharing portion of the day, as I had planned to use my injury to duck out early, as it had been a lot and I was in desperate need of rest, but I was persuaded to stay. It had felt slightly strange and somewhat difficult to share what I had written with a group of three others, but having done it once and been encouraged to share with a larger group, in a comfortable, seated setting, I felt I had a lot to gain and a lot less to lose.
So I managed it: I got to be proud and free. Coming home, I realised that I was both unblocked and unafraid. I had been attending events, becoming inspired and yet continuing to come home and not put pen to paper, or possibly even dare to imagine myself up on a stage. Yet, having been a little shaken up and given a massive shift of perspective, I really did feel I had a lot less to lose and felt a lot braver.
I have begun writing again, both prose and poetry, and I hope soon to be able to walk, not limp, up on stage. I really could not have done it without the support, hope, excitement, anticipation and participation of an event like TCFT Croydon. I am definitely looking forward to the next event, especially as it will be the final one, full of epic people and content.
Photos by Peter Ball.