On November 27, I was able to attend an event hosted by 404 Ink at the Scottish Poetry Library, where author Jason Reynolds was interviewed by local musician Kayus Bankole.
The topic of conversation was Reynold’s most recent publication with 404 Ink, For Every One. With purchase of a ticket to this event, everyone got a copy of the book to take home with them, and some wine, which was wonderful (who doesn’t love free books and wine?).
The night was overall just an enjoyable and inspirational time. Reynolds and Bankole covered For Every One, what it is like to be a dreamer, honesty, and politics, somehow fitting it all into two hours. It also provided an interesting insight into publishing from the perspective of an author, and how publishers work with artists to make dreams come true. Here are the highlights of the night!
For Every One is a letter that Reynolds wrote about being a dreamer, what that feels like, and the unknown of success. Anyone who has ever had a dream that they were reaching to achieve, creative or not, will be able to relate to the beautiful poem he has created. It talks about the fear and the unknown, and the feeling you get when you know your dream is real to you, but is not yet real to the world. Split into four parts, the poem is so honest and real, and one of the most inspiring pieces of literature that I have read in recent years.
The discussion also got very political. Reynolds grew up as a black man in America, and Bankole grew up as a black man in Scotland. Both have found success in their respective fields, but have obviously faced racism in their everyday lives. They discussed how art makes a difference in politics, using examples such as rap music, music in general, poetry, and literature, and how in times of tense political climate artists have a responsibility to reflect and fight this in their art. Reynolds read two poems by Amiri Baraka as an example, including one called “Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note”.
Overall, the night was inspiring. Reynolds has a beautiful way with words, and listening to him talk about the difficulties of being a dreamer resonated with me and everyone else in the audience, if the cheers he received at the end were any indication. Reynolds and Bankole provided a wonderful discourse about what it means to dream, and the responsibility of the artist, a pressure they both feel. Both men inspired me and others to continue to dream, and to continue to work towards what we want, even if it doesn’t seem like success is possible.
To end, here are my top three favourite quotes from the night (even though there were many more):
“The job of the artist is to always be beginning”
“If it’s what you intended it to be, it’s [perfect]”
“Art can create empathetic spaces”