October is often a busy month for me with increased demand for workshops related to Black History. This year was no different. When Reverend Sandra Schloss asked me to perform a poem and run the Arts workshop for Southwark Diocese Black History Month service, I was quite honoured. It was to be the first in-person workshop I’ve led for 2 years, due the pandemic.

It was hard to know what to expect. I had not been to one of these events before and I usually have an idea how many people will be at a workshop, so it was quite an unknown quantity. There could potentially be up to 30 people and it was a relatively short session so I was a bit apprehensive. The more people there are the harder it is to keep everyone’s attention.

Thankfully, Lena Norman, a fellow poet and collaborator, offered to help facilitate the workshop.

At first, I planned to read one of my existing poems, but I felt prompted to write something specifically for this event. And so, I set about writing what became ‘To the tune of adornment’.

A lot of the themes of the poem had been in my mind for a while – especially since the death of George Floyd and all it had stirred up, but also because of the racism that the Brexit vote brought to the surface too.

The poem is a hymn to the achievements of different artists and black figures and how their works inspire us and give us a sense of belonging. Most of all, it is an encouragement to hold on to these moments and celebrate them and the many, many talented black artists and creatives among us.

Around 20 people of all ages came to the workshop which took place in the retrochoir space at the very back of the cathedral. I was really glad to see some school-age attendees as well as those who were much older which I had not expected.

We started by watching Adeyemi Michaels’ powerful short film called ‘Entitled’ which I refer to in the poem I’d read. In small groups, we then shared and discussed our impressions and responses. One young participant said that although being a Nigerian in Peckham (where ‘Entitled’ is set) was really difficult sometimes, the film made them feel proud to be a Nigerian in Peckham. This was quite profound for me and a perfect example of the power of art to give us a sense of belonging and pride.

We then discussed in groups which types of art and artists inspired us and why. We had everything from Bob Marley’s music to food to fabrics. I talked about how we all value art and its power to heal, transform and generate empathy. Although in some cultures artistic pursuits are not given the same kudos as say, being a doctor, lawyer or accountant – the Arts are at the very heart of what we cling to to celebrate our culture and identity. The clothes, the music and food and storytelling are at the heart of what gives different cultures their distinctiveness and strengthen our sense of belonging. We also talked about why the arts are important to us as Christians – we are all the children of the first and foremost creative – God himself!

The last part of the workshop involved a guided writing exercise using images by West Indian artist Kiki Toussaint and Nigerian artist Arinze Stanley. Participants were asked to pick one of the images and answer a set of specific questions to create a poem with diverse and insightful results.

A few brave souls shared their writing with us including aspects of how God might be speaking to them through the artwork. Some were more developed than others, but each person created a new piece of writing and hopefully, a new perspective on the power of creativity. It was a really enjoyable interactive session – and an honour to do it in such a beautiful location.


Adukeh (which means ‘beloved one’) is a London-based artist with a Yoruba heritage. She has a passion for the arts, particularly their ability to empower through storytelling and expression. Major themes of her work include beauty, brokenness, stillness, and healing.

Adukeh has created works in many mediums including spoken word, photography, poetry, music and video.  She has exhibited and performed her poetry as part of the Highams Park Festival of Culture and the Unveiling Arts Festival. She has run poetry workshops for Tower Hamlets and as part of the Outlet collective.