Ms Anamoli Meraki talks about her poetry and music with Virginia Lowes
October 28, 2015
Performance poet Ms Anamoli (actual name Anamoli Jade Meraki) is also known as Diva, Boss, or anything else ego boosting. She’s from near Sheffield and finds it a bit scary that she’ll be 29 next birthday. She thinks she might need to start growing up.
Over the last few years she’s read at a few Open Mic nights in Sheffield and was recently a featured performer at one of the first Verse Matters events. She’ll usually be found at a Gorilla Open Mic Night or some random pub in Sheffield soaking up the atmosphere.
She once entered ‘a competition’ and her poem Fires and Flames was published (though she’s never managed to get a copy of the book). Her poem Post Sanity was recently published in Kate Garret’s zine Pankhearst Press : Fresh. She’ll be doing an interview for the zine next month.
When and why did you start to write poetry?
To be honest with you, I think the moment that I learnt how to rhyme in like nursery, is when I probably start sketching poetry in my mind.
I was a proper sporty kid, definitely a tomboy, and wasn’t really interested in sitting still in a class room. It became a normality for me to hear the words “sit down and be quiet”. Unfortunately, those words really left a mark on my soul, and I told myself all I was good for was sport and not much else. I was diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 13 years old and some professional suggested I write down how I felt instead of self-harming. So that’s what I did.
What makes you write now?
Well, we’re quite a few years on from the first time I wrote a poem. But writing poetry for me is just how I process my thoughts. I’ve been diagnosed with several mental health illnesses over the years, and though some of the medication has helped. I honestly don’t think I would still be alive if I hadn’t started to write more and actually share what I’d written with others.
Can you describe your poetry?
Can anyone describe my poetry?! My poetry is pieces of myself. My poetry is a peak into my mind. My poetry is probably best described as the ramblings of a mad woman, but that’s not what it only is. In all seriousness it has been described as confessional poetry. It’s not quite spoken word, but it’s not quite written poetry. Each poem I write usually has some weird rhythm that is not consistent throughout the whole piece and changes pace often, like music I suppose, but obviously not quite as ordered. I dunno, my poetry is blunt, angry, scared, confused, to the point and much like myself, an anomaly.
How did you feel the first time you read your poetry?
Oh my Gosh. I was sooooo scared. And very drunk. I got up to the mic. Looked at my phone (which had my words on), sang quietly into a mic and then started with my very angry poem. It was called Don’t Flatter Yourself and was about self-harm and how when people find out, they can change their attitude towards you. But as was repeated throughout the piece it was emphasising that self-harm was my problem and not anyone else’s; ‘Don’t flatter yourself, it’s not about you’.
What kind of support do you get from other poets or performers?
From the moment I did my first reading I’ve had some great support. It was about 3 years ago that I first started going to Poetry events and meeting other poets and some have become great friends. All have had a positive influence and impact on my life. I’m always greeted warmly, and most people are really accepting. The Sheffield poetry circuit is something I hope I stay a part of for a while. They’ve become like my family.
Who are your favourite writers/poets?
Well, I hate reading. Eeek. Should I have said that? Too late. I have Dyslexia and A.D.D so I’ve always found reading really arduous. When I was a kid I love Roald Dahl, and I still have a book I was obsessed with called something like Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. When I was about 15 I started listening to Def Poetry Jam on Youtube and discovered spoken word and I loved it. My favourites change regularly because such is life. But if you find reading too much hard work to actually enjoy what has been written, get yoursen on youtube and search spoken word. My personal favourites are Hollie McNish and Neil Hilborn.
You also sing – When did you first realise you could sing?
I always got told growing up that I couldn’t sing. And at school if we split into lads and lasses I was always put in with the lads, cos I had such a deep voice.
I did drunken karaoke pretty much every week with my mates when I was a teenager but I tried out a music production course last year and they asked me to sing in a mic. They whacked on a bit of reverb and then told me to sing as if they weren’t there. I made them turn around and gave ‘em strict instructions to not look at me, and sang. Both of the tutors just looked at each other and said “Wow.” and then I was like, “Was that ok?” and then basically they asked me to sing at the company’s Christmas party. That was the first time that I had ever really sang. It was terrifyingly fun, and I am very glad I did it.
What and where do you sing?
Since that, I met Nye who is an incredible guitar player and we teamed up to form our band Meraki. We currently have a monthly gig at the Hermitage at the bottom of London Road on the second Thursday of the month. You’ll spot us down at the RS bar and The Cremorne jamming at open mic nights and you can also book us to perform at your party, wedding, festival or function. We currently do a mixture of jazzy, R&B-y, acoustic covers and are working on our own original acoustic and electronic tracks.
What does Sheffield mean to you?
Sheffield means so much to me. It’s the place that I found myself, or allowed myself to just be who I am and live, taste, and enjoy life. I’ve travelled around a lot, spending time specifically focusing on how I could ‘fix’ myself. But when I started sharing my poetry and saw how many people related to it, I steadily began to realise that I don’t need to fix myself, that this is it, and if you don’t like it, it’s tough shit. And that has made Sheffield a really powerful place for me.
I decided to stay here cos there’s a good mixture of countryside and built up stuff. I am not really a city girl, nor would I cope if I had to travel for miles to my closest neighbour or shop. So Sheffield has become perfect for me. There is a buzzing music scene and a great and accommodating poetry/spoken word scene.
Anyone that knows me, knows that my absolutely favourite place to hang out is my house, with my cat, and my friends eating nice homemade foods and having ‘stupid convos’ or ‘deep and meaningfuls’. But if it’s sunny, you might see me trying to get my vitamin d intake in the Peace Gardens, Western Park or Mount Pleasant Park.
Below is ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’, the first of a number of Meraki’s poems we will be publishing over the coming weeks.
Home Is Where The Heart Is
They say home is where the heart is
but what if everywhere you’ve ever trodden
has been left with a trail of your crimson blood stains
camouflaged amongst the crunchy, crispy, brown and red leaves that
disintegrate underneath the clumsiness of your footsteps
as you only seem to…Fall
or winter or spring,
but never summer up the courage to stand strong
and allow your beautiful petals to shimmer in the sun …
flower, it is ok to feel battered and bruised by the different seasons of life
you will regain your umph!
stolen by the smack addicted, dirty, boney fingers
that traced the hairline across your face, book
doesn’t have a clue how many charges are on your police profile
they just hear you whine, red wine,
becomes your lipstick, your weapon, your confidence, your baby
but baby, you have a w-o-m-b not a b-o-m-b ,
time is not ticking,
do not be afraid,
one day the blood will flow through again,
and life and life and life
becomes too much, as clenched fists
travel to lips to smother and choke
and fill up your body like a pill box.
You rattle, rattle, rattle,
and shake, shake ,
Shake it off, jump out of the hospital bed,
don’t stay still, illness pays no mind to the homeless,
go gather up the kicked and scattered and splattered pieces of your broken heart.
Hold them tightly,
never mind the crimson trails that you leave behind you
After all home is where the heart is.
Sometimes you just have to carry it with you
through every season
though you may fall
you will spring up
and the winter
the winters will be cold but that just gives you the strength
to summer up the courage
to allow your colours to flicker and shimmer in the sun
Flower, you will be alright.
Home(isno)less or more
Home is where the heart is.
© Ms Anamoli Meraki 2015
Facebook – Ms Anamoli
Soundcloud – Ms Meraki
Facebook – Meraki (Sheffield)
Youtube – Merakiduo
Meraki | The Hermitage | #doitwithMeraki | 9pm | 12th November
Meraki | Hagglers Corner| 5th December