Q&A with Malaika Kegode, writer and performer of our South West poem called
‘The Best Ones’
Malaika is a writer and performer based in Bristol, who has worked with organisations including Roundhouse, Historic England, and the BBC.
Last year, Malaika’s debut theatre show ‘Outlier’ – a collaboration with post-rock band Jakabol – was commissioned by Bristol Old Vic.
In 2018 she was included in Bristol’s BME Power List.
She has also written two poetry collections Requite (2017) and Thalassic (2020), published by Burning Eye Books.
What do you love about pubs?
For a long time, pubs have been a safe place for me, they’re my favourite places to be. In the pub we can really figure out who we are and how we work in a society. Everyone has a favourite pub, be it a sports bar, an “old man pub” with a little Jack Russell sleeping by the fire, or a trendy gastropub. They become really central to our social lives and identities.
Why is being involved in this Winter Warmers project so important to you?
Everyone I’ve spoken to over lockdown just really misses the pub. It’s an extension of home. Somewhere you can go without being pressured to do or be anything other than yourself. I think at a time they are struggling, it only feels right to give something back.
Everyone I’ve spoken to over lockdown just really misses the pub. It’s an extension of home. Somewhere you can go without being pressured to do or be anything other than yourself.
What impact do you hope your poem has?
It’s important to me that poetry is accessible and open to people even if they don’t think poetry is their “thing”. I hope it reminds people of those nights with special people in their favourite, secret pub and pulls them back into those places as soon as they can.
For ‘Winter Warmers’, I’ve written a poem to capture the feeling of sinking comfortably into a pub with good friends. My poem is about connection – connection to people, to place and to feeling.
What makes pubs so special in Bristol and the South West?
I grew up in Devon, and it’s hard to be a young person there sometimes. I always felt very awkward and like a bit of a freak sometimes, but I found real community in pubs and they helped me really get a sense of whom I was. I could be a total weirdo and it was accepted. I like that in Bristol, you get people of all ages and walks of life in pubs mixing together. You get the trendy hipsters toe to toe with an elderly man.
Favourite tipple at the pub?
A pale ale. Something sluggable, lightly effervescent and completely opaque. A bit lively and a tiny bit fruity. In Bristol we have lots of great breweries so I’m spoilt for choice!
Favourite pub dish?
It’s got to be ham, egg and chips. My local, The Shakespeare in Redland, does a weekday deal on ham, egg & chips for lunch and it’s a real treat.