Even though I have been travelling and touring for a while as well as working with young people in schools, I would say it is only in the last couple of years that a whole new literary world has opened up to me. When I first had a meeting with Aine Venables, Education Manager of Hay Festival, it felt like being recruited by Nick Fury to be part of the Hay Festival, Avengers haha. I was all in. I left our meeting with an idea to create a rap song that I would do on the tour. That became Scribbling Dreams, which I released on all digital downloading and streaming services on the day I was heading to Wales. I even got excited and made a lyric video for it, which is on my YouTube channel (KarlNova).
When I eventually met the whole team in Wrexham which was the first stop of the tour, I really did feel like I was part of a special team about to do something remarkable.
We all connected and got on so well from the first hello. When we first had dinner together I was inspired so much by Jenny Valentine and Emma Carroll sharing their experiences as writers. (I am still a newbie on my first book!) They are such lovely people! It was also great to meet Marta Codello who was the Artist manager for the tour and someone who I had only “met” via emails and also Jonny Boyd, who on the road became DJ Jonny Jon Jon Jon (named by me of course hahaha) He was our technical guy. I mean what is a team on a special mission without a technical specialist? Of course at the helm was the lovely Aine Venables. Later on in the tour I got to meet Julia Eccleshare, which was an honour indeed.
I am a Hip Hop artist and performance poet. I live for the moments of bringing poetry to life on stage and giving an experience of poetry being alive, exciting, fun and inspirational. That is what I aim to do every time I have a chance to. I am also a bit of a storyteller (basically that is code for I can chat for England and the world! Yes I have stories for days!). So the first day in Wrexham was so good. I enjoyed Emma Carroll’s session and really learnt a lot from it. I also enjoyed Jenny Valentine’s session too, she is so good at making everything flow. The young people were fully engaged. It is all about them and seeing their faces light up was the best thing. I like it that they got to tour the universities that were used as venues. I wish I had an experience like this when I was in school.
OK so I didn’t intend for this to go on for so long but I just have to say our stops at Aberystwyth and Swansea were so good. In Swansea I got to be on BBC Radio Wales. I was invited to appear on their breakfast how. It was a very short interview (probably due to the fact there was a guy on before me being interviewed about receiving injections in order to help him get a sun tan haha). At the venue in Swansea, I met a student who said that he wasn’t even into rap or poetry but I made him and everyone feel part of what I was sharing. Wow, I could have just gone home right there and felt like my job was done but the next stop was Cardiff (nah I am joking, go home? I was having too much fun with my squad of Scribblers).
In Cardiff, Huw Thomas of the BBC visited with cameras and actually recorded a bit of my set [insert theatric gasp here] and interviewed me afterwards. I think it was for a show on BBC, which I'm sure will be available to view very soon.
The last day in Newport was emotional for me. I didn’t want this adventure to end. The comradery, the inside jokes, the feeling that you are part of a community really doing something that matters, the smiles from the students, the appreciation they showed, the creative energy you could feel everywhere we were. Seeing the students respond to the power of writing, creativity and expressing ideas from their imaginations will never get old. The long drives through Wales from city to city giving us an opportunity to see how beautiful Wales is, the dinners after doing a great job where we celebrated how the day went. It all had to come to an end! ]
(What’s that I have in my eye?!)
Karl Nova is a Hip Hop artist, author and poet. He was the winner of the 2018 CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) for Rhythm and Poetry, his first published collection. Born and raised in London as well as Lagos, Karl is a social commentator, creative writing workshop facilitator, broadcaster and cultural critic. He took part in the Hay Festival Scribblers Tour 2019.