|Author and Poet Alex Wheatle|
Enthusiastic book lovers gathered at The Powerhouse Library in Manchester last night for the latest exciting Manchester Children’s Book Festival Event. Performance Poet and author, Alex Wheatle dropped by to talk about his life and his new Young Adult novel Liccle Bit.
Alex began by telling the audience about his upbringing. Taken into care at the age of three, Alex suffered dreadful abuse in a children’s home and was particularly traumatised when his best friend was suddenly taken from the home by social workers. As a result of the traumas and bullying he suffered, Alex went on to have huge behavioural difficulties and was moved around between lots of different homes and schools.
|Alex signs copies of Liccle Bit|
Eventually Alex ended up in a home in Brixton, his birthplace, where he began working as a lookout for a notorious crime lord. After becoming involved in the 1981 Brixton riots, he ended up serving ten months in prison and it was here that Alex discovered a love of reading and began to turn his life around. He said, “After that, I didn’t get into any trouble. I just read and read.”
After he was released, Alex began to experiment with writing his own song lyrics and poems. He began to perform under the pseudonym, Yardman Irie, and treated the library audience to a rendition of his song Uprising. It was only when he again met the young friend he had lost at the children’s home that Alex began to consider writing about his life. He said, “My friend said, ‘Alex, man, our lives have been a joke. Maybe you should write a book about it.’ So I did.” This led to the publication of Alex’s first novel, Brixton Rock and Alex eventually being awarded an MBE for his services to literature.
After telling his story, Alex read an extract from his latest novel, Liccle Bit. The novel tells the story of 14-year-old Lemar’s challenging life, but like the author’s life story, carries a message of hope. Alex said, “To think that someone like me could write a book. It’s unimaginable. You guys in the audience are all blessed with some kind of talent. Go out and look for it.”
Liccle Bit is available now from Urmston Bookshop
To find out more about all the exciting events at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, see our What’s On guide.