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Dean Atta's debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody's Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His poems deal with themes of race, gender, identity and growing up, and have appeared on BBC One's The One Show and several times on BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally.
Photo credit Thomas Sammut.
August 2019 Debut of the Month | Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”. As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.” Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.
Bold The Guardian I loved every word Malorie Blackman This is not about being ready, it's not even about being fierce, or fearless, IT'S ABOUT BEING FREE. Michael waits in the stage wings, wearing a pink wig, pink fluffy coat and black heels. One more step will see him illuminated by spotlight. He has been on a journey of bravery to get here, and he is almost ready to show himself to the world in bold colours ... Can he emerge as The Black Flamingo? SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKS ARE MY BAG READER AWARDS 2019
'I loved every word' - Malorie Blackman 'Atta's bold verse novel calls to its readers to find their own blazing, performative inner truth' - Guardian A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen - then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour. 'I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.' SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKS ARE MY BAG READER AWARDS 2019