I was born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents and have loved deserts ever since but cannot handle hot weather.
Photo of me and my dad before we left Saudi for Pakistan, where we lived for 4 years before arriving in England.
Before becoming a writer I did an incredible amount of jobs, jumping from one to another, certainly helps now having all those different lives.
The first job was with the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police Force, it was an eye opening, supersonic journey into worlds I would have never seen otherwise.
I went onto do many jobs, from selling pensions and life insurance to setting up a national photographic supplier busines but in my heart I was always drawn to the arts.
This led me to study Kathak, classical north India dance as a hobby which led to me performing professionally.
Before I knew it I was I was helping arts organisations with their business and went onto establish The Black Literature Project for Yorkshire Arts Council as they were know then. Benjamin Zephaniah came to help me launch it, he gave me the confidence to believe in myself and start performing my own poetry I had been pretending was a diary I was writing.
Here you can see the huge crowds we pulled for our Black Literature Festival, this is outside Cartwright Hall, Bradford with Lemn Sissay wowing the crowds way back, he also played a vital role in helping me become a full time writer.
I went onto become a full time poet and script writer, you can see the details of that here.
I love writing poetry, scripts, equally I love teaching writing, I am very lucky to be a lecturer in script writing and poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. I also treasure working with hard to reach groups helping people write, find their stories and sharing them.
Some of the recent proejcts I’ve been working on are:
I love writing about food from growing and picking it, to preparing, sharing and learning recipes and of cousre the food. I have travelled the world writing about food. It all started when I was a writer in residence at The Lowry for the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
I have an allotment which is a very inspiring place to be from working on poems, to learning lines, to writing about about food, here are some photos of what I grow: