You can have respect for your craft, community and creativity while still embracing the ridiculousness of it all.

1. Describe yourself in 3 words…

Generous, Determined, Introvert

2. What inspires you?

The endurance and optimism of human beings. That we have all lived through our very worst days and just keep on going. That we’ve all been hurt but keep on loving. That we’ve all experienced loss but we stay open to finding.

3. Tell us about your worst ever gig?

For me, the worst gigs are the ones where clearly no one wants you there. I hate the feeling of forcing words on unsuspecting people who just wanted to pop out for a drink! I had an experience like this once where we were performing in the corner of a pub in Plymouth with a dodgy mic and halfway through the gig a fistfight broke out right in front of us while someone was halfway through a poem. 

4. What’s your number one poetry pet peeve?

Poetry that takes itself too seriously. You can have respect for your craft, community and creativity while still embracing the ridiculousness of it all.

5. Whose words do you love at the moment?

I just saw Chris White perform his show and some new work he’s written over lockdown and I really believe he’s one of the most unique and skilled writers and performers on the scene right now!

6. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

You don’t have to be so nice all the time.

7. When You’re Having A Bad Day, What Do You Do To Make Yourself Feel Better?’

If I’m able to, I’ll just give myself the rest of the day off – I know that if I’m in a foul mood then nothing I do work-wise is going to be particularly productive and that is liable to just make me feel worse! I try to get off the internet, especially Twitter. If it’s not raining then I’ll try to go out for a walk, preferably near a large body of water – Blagdon Lake in Somerset is a particular favourite. Cooking is my happy place and ultimate stress reliever, so I’ll stick on an audiobook and focus on making something great for dinner. Then I’ll watch a film – probably something with Cary Grant in.

Malaika features on our Apples and Snakes: The Podcast on episode 5, discussing National Voices with host Yomi Sode and guest Khadijah Ibrahiim. Listen to her and other poets on your usual podcast channels.

Ep 5 | National Voices Part 1: ‘But I‘m a poet as well”

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Photo by Paul Blakemore.