I got tagged in this fun challenge to create the best New Year’s dinner party ever thrown.
The rules are there can be only six people, including yourself. So, who would YOU invite?
I’m a writer and I LOVE hanging out with other writers. I also like balance so I’d invite an equal number of people who are dead and alive, and male and female.
1. Maya Angelou
A big-hearted phenomenal woman, I’ll never forget going to see Maya reading from her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in London. She was so funny and irreverent, everyone loved her. I learned much about writing from her works, but I’d still love to pick her brains about how she wrote so naturalistically.
2. Octavia Butler
I discovered Octavia though her novel Kindred, and then I was hooked. I read everything she ever wrote and was eagerly awaiting her next novel when the news came that she had died, at the relatively young age of 58 (which is my age this year.) I would want to ask her what else she wanted to write, and whether she feels she had done her best work. If I ever did a PhD, it would be on the worlds of this writer.
3. Jonathan Kemp
I ordered a book by this author because he was a tutor on the MA in Novel Writing I took last year. The novel that hooked me was Ghosting, which is about a sixty-four-year-old woman who thinks she’s seen the ghost of a former lover. I would want him at my table because I want to know how a man was able to capture an older woman’s voice so well, and what techniques he used to do this. He most recently published an anthology of twenty-six stories about sex which inspired me to try my hand at writing about my sexuality.
4. Toni Morrison
Like many black female writers, I’m a great admirer of Ms Morrison’s writing. I was also fortunate to meet her twice, at a book signing for Love and a book talk for Beloved. I loved her early work, Tar Baby and Sula, the latter I used as the name for my bike after Toni died this year.
5. Lemn Sissay
I’ve just finished reading Lemn’s autobiography My Name is Why (Lemn is the name his birth mother gave him which from translates from the Ethiopian as why?) The book is both hauntingly beautiful and horribly jarring; What must it be like to be known all your life until you are a young adult as a name that is not yours? (Lemn was called Norman until his early 20s when he discovered his real name.)
I am so glad he discovered his passion for poetry which saved him and his mental health. This year, for the second time I am on the steering committee for his brainchild for the Hackney Christmas dinner, which provides a fantastic Christmas day for fifty care leavers in Hackney. (Also in Birmingham and several other cities). Not on a day several days before Christmas at the convenience of the social services, but on actual Christmas Day.
What an asset to my dinner table he would be.
Then for after-dinner entertainment, I’d invite The Cocoa Butter Club to show us how to really bring in the New Year in style.
Marla Bishop is a writer and relationship coach. She lives in London UK with her husband and youngest two children, plus Ellie the collie cross & Sparkle the goldfish. You can read more of her writings here: Lilith