Writing Workout (90min bedtime/morning) – Honesty vs. Truth

Todays workout is a bit unorthodox, I had a really intense weekend starting with a good friends memorial at a church I find quiet traumatic to be in and and ending with a two day carnival extravaganza with a bigger crew of people I love than ever before. It was a very intense journey and as a result yesterday I felt quiet vacuous and unsure what to do with myself, before bed I found myself knowing I needed to write but reluctant to do so aka YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO WRITE DEBORAH.

So I sat at my hilariously cluttered desk (covered in the various things I have thrown at it whilst running in and out the house this weekend) and just:

1. Wrote freely, honestly and without a care for sense of fact but instead honestly for as long as I needed to. No timer, though I imagine it was 10ish minutes till it felt like I had got what I needed to get out from my system. Then, went to sleep. 

2. When I woke up I set aside an hour (though it became 90minutes) to work wha tI had written into a draft of something, I won’t post the drafts because there is a lot of very sensitive personal information there but this really actually became the theme of the editing process. I wanted the piece to be truthful but I was conscious there were facts in there I either wasn’t comfortable sharing or it felt unnecessarily exposing of others to post. Here are some editing techniques I used to try and find the truth in chronological order… 

  • Expand on all imagery, colours, tastes, smells, textures.
  • Edit into 4 line stanza’s and each line must contain a unit of meaning that can stand a lone, as must each stanza.
  • Cut savagely – what is only working on one dimension?
  • Cut savagely – what in here are you not comfortable sharing, if not, why and how can this transpire in an image, smell, taste, be woven into an existing metaphor?
  • Step back, be a reader that knows nothing of this story and imaging the images/ sensory experiences of the piece as you read it- what can you cut, what doesn’t make sense, what can be compressed? + F*** the formal lineation and try something that feels more instinctive from the questions above.


This is what I was left with…


We Have Lost This Year

For Rob Anker and everyone else lost, 2017


Listen kids, love is a big red balloon, sadness is a small blue balloon

And happiness is a bouncy yellow balloon, etc. Simple, pure,


swiftly deflating and annoyingly easy to burst. In the grounds of a church

that held its own spire to my neck. Hundreds of us holding these hesitant orbs,

Will they float when we let go? I’ve written so much about him on the tags at the bottom.


My mum tells a horrendous story about two lesbians finding god

and getting a divorce, so they can live the law of chastity, because

they felt the hands of god (around their throats) I said I had never felt the hands of god

and she said but we know why that is, LOOK IT’S A MASSIVE MUSHROOM,



and dad said he will have to take mums word for it.

So, we all stand with these heavy balloons as the convoy of grieving motorbikes rev.

A smoke alarm goes off in the chapel. When we let go, we point up at the sky,

watch the balloons struggle, a few drop into stranger’s gardens. But most,


eventually, get smaller and smaller and smaller and I don’t

want to put my finger down from the sky. In some other universe, city or time zone,

it’s Carnival, and a girl puts her hands around my past without flinching.

A man gives out free alcoholic ice poles. At 3pm we have a minute’s silence


for Grenfell Tower. we stand with our fists in the air, eyes down; paint, mud, gas canisters, confetti. We are slightly out of time with another sound system so towards the end

horns and hips start up again on an adjacent road until our MC has to speak


about a boy on this street who passed away this year, and give memory to everyone

/thing we have lost, and she hugs me so fast it as if (maybe) I was about to fall


or take off or burst and she needed to catch me


with unfazed fingers between the red, yellow and blue tassels of my dress.

That silent staggered minute growing smaller and smaller and smaller.





Trinbago take 2 – Break Down to Break Through.

What if you fight against the odds, defy ‘normality’ and redefine ‘success’ – the dyslexic becomes a poet/ the girl from Ilford an academic/ the prolific bashment raver an Artistic Director. Then, you realise everything you have worked 18 hour days for, for 10 years (since you were 15) sacrificed your teenage years for – isn’t where you need to be anymore.

18 months ago, I gave up every component of my life because I realised I needed to go home. To Ilford, to my family, to my friends, to grime, to rage, to fear, to trauma, to the boxes I had locked into the loft for so long. I left a city that had been home for 8 years (my whole adult life) a company I started and established for 6, a relationship I had been in for 5 and a physical home I had built for 3 – all to live in my old tiny bedroom with my parents, in Ilford, at 26.

It doesn’t seem like the obvious road to success. But I had realised I had lost part of who I was and I needed to reclaim it. 

I also had realised that, though I was doing so many things I was proud of and loved, I had stopped being happy. Although I did things that made me happy retrospectively, though I could talk to you about joy and pride – on a daily basis I was too exhausted to remember what the experience of joy was.

But something happened in Trinidad – something about the cocoa, pepper and hips, the undercurrent of pain and the way their voices sing over and through it. The theme somehow – take disruption as opportunity, serendipity. Yes, Debris, you always have a plan, but if there is traffic down the planned road and a hot air balloon presents itself on the hard shoulder – why refuse yourself the view?  

This trip was a hot air balloon ride – at times slow and blown in directions that could make me anxious but the views of the people, the places, the music were so beautiful and right I had to just stop and breathe and stretch in the sunlight of it all.

I wanted to share this because I can be obsess over productivity – and compare ‘success’ and ‘accomplishment’ and ‘drive’ to the social media timelines of others. It doesn’t always look like we expect it to. This is my call to keep space in yourself for diversion and reflection. And a call to myself to stop waiting till I am sick to do so (ironically ill as I type this but hey, one step at a time).

The bridge between breakdown and breakthrough:

  • Yoga with Adrienne 3 times a week (as little as 10mins as much as 90min).dirty medics 1
  • Swimming for an hour a week under the stars.
  • Dancing every day (5min like a loon in the living room or 10 hours in the streets of Trinidad – ideally a range).
  • Letting my house mates distract me with Dobble, Jenga and gold fish funerals.
  • Letting the beautiful friends I make distract me; missions for coconut water, trips to the beach, conversations in the doorway, searching for something on Netflix to watch for an hour then watching nothing, rewatching Black Mirror and cycling down the motorway.
  • If a poem starts happening – from you or someone else, no matter how random or exhausted, let it.
  • Lying on the floor after yoga, and just being with myself (I can only actually do this whilst listening to James Blake).
  • Make Pie Charts for; what makes you happy, what you spend time on, what you want to spend time on, what stresses you out. E.g.:

IMG_0711 IMG_0713IMG_0712

  • Message your mum back on facebook.

Give some a go?

Lastly, I want to say thank you for the poets that let me into their work, the humans that let me into their lives and the families that let me into their homes. In terms of that time pie chart – I have learned the importance of keeping 5-10% of myself free to show the same generosity to others that has been shown to me by the beautiful people of Trinidad. I had a little cry on the plane for how overwhelmed by love, care and appreciation I feel.

Thank you. Let the hard work continue.