Dean Atta

Family and relationships are prime topics for Dean Atta, hosted by Toast poetry as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Their thread is housed in a new Speakeasy venue tucked in to the side of the Spiegeltent in Norwich’s Chapelfield Gardens; it’s quite a grand name for what is in essence a tent with some quirky chairs and some art deco wallpaper on the tarps. Host Lewis Buxton jokes he was promised revolving bookcases and secret passages – but that might not have been too accessible.

Atta read from three of his collections including verse novel Black Flamingo, a fictionalised exploration of his identity as the only mixed race child in his Greek Cypriot family. The name is derived from the surprise arrival of dark bird on the island during a visit: “That one black body in the flamboyance”.

His poems also explore his relationships with his father and mother; the latter is significantly more positive – “My mother is more than poetry / she is the breath before we speak.”

His sexuality also comes to the fore in several pieces including a very funny last minute addition to his set, Rome is eternal, that sets a Grindr encounter in the ancient city and cherishes the moment for what it was.

Atta was supported by Norwich-based poet Daisy Henwood, whose material ranged from the an exploration of the strange deeds of Victorian houses in the city’s Golden Triangle in In agreement to an unimpressed lone 52hz whale roaming the seas and trying her best to avoid the humans arrogant enough to name and claim her.

As Atta put it, trivia that might be the “pencil shavings of life” but still very much worth holding on to.

  • TOAST at the Festival Speakeasy continues until Thursday, May 23, 2024