Posted on

The Black Flamingo – Dean Atta

Wow. Rachael has made our book of the month The Black Flamingo, which is my favourite book of the year so far.

A book of verse, prose and power, this is the perfect tale of recognising and owning your identity. Don’t let verse intimidate you, it’s conversational, intimate and intuitive.

Interspersed with text exchanges and simple but effective illustrations this is visually stimulating and addictive to read. It tells the story of Michael, a boy of mixed Jamaican and Greek – Cypriot heritage and touches on what it is to be different and the journey to become accept that and become unique.

With brilliantly drawn characters in Michael’s family during childhood through to his quirky teenage friends you get a sense of his life and journey and when the book finishes, you will want to hear more from everyone in his found family.

Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

The wise, lyrical, achingly funny words and imagery perfectly capture what it is to stand out, to search for yourself in others and to find your centre.

Some of Michael’s internal thoughts about growing up LGBTQ+ are so spot on its uncomfortable. It also provides a window into his racial identity, a poignant emotional, look through a window I can never hope to fully understand.

It’s why #ownvoices are so important.

The only response to such an affecting book is to say thank you.

April Evening in Cyprus

Your grandfather draws
your attention to the news;
the story, a black flamingo
has landed on the island.

An expert on screen
explaining it is the opposite
of an albino. Too much
melanin, he says. Camera pans

the salt lake full of pink
but the eye is drawn
to that one black body
in the flamboyance