You tell me...

Passing on the baton
From Derek to Clem
From Anita to Sam
Business in Brighton with a duty to community
And a deeply personal philosophy

"Do whatever makes you happy"
Is what my mother always told me

And that's why my love of poetry
Was nurtured at Sussex University

I studied English and Philosophy
Went back to London with my degree

But Brighton always had a hold of me

I come back monthly for both business and pleasure
But can we have the two together?

That's why we are here today and I ask
What makes your business pleasurable?

You share your opinions with me
Bold as the names on your tags

You say it's seeing lives transformed
And potentials fulfilled

You tell me you deal with numbers
You can tell a lot about someone's life
From the numbers they give you

You tell me it's running three businesses
Seven days a week
And not having a single day off this month

You asked me to mention you in my poem, so I have
But no more names now, I'm talking to all of you

You say it's talking to people
And developing crazy ideas

You say it's solving juicy problems
And exceeding their expectations

You say it's fulfilling your ethical duties

You say it's when they bring cake

A joyful team and happy customers
And having a good gossip  

A passionate boss who involves you in their vision

Being your own boss

Being in a position to turn work down

Seeing your business work for others

You say if it's good publicity for me
I'll do it for free

You say if you're making money out of it
I'm making money out of it

You say you don't believe in competition

You love, when they do it from the heart

You say it's pleasure boundaried by measure
And a philosophy of hedonism

Respect Consent Warmth Love Humour Vulnerability
Proactively reducing the amount of unnecessary pain  

You say if it's not fair trade it is unfair trade

You say it's the sex trade  

You work from home

You were raised in the boardroom
The boardroom was in your kitchen

You knew what you wanted to do from the age of 8

You came to your career quite late

You never really retire if you're doing a job you love

You are willing to work with anyone

You are a volunteer

You are in between jobs right now

You are saving up to go travelling

You are visiting for an internship

8 million visitors a year come here
4 million of those come to see the pier
House of horror and the roller coaster


We have all come to the party
In this wonderful vibrant city
Piers, queers and racketeers
Once the criminal capital of the country
Thanks to the London Brighton railway
So many great escape routes
But who would want to leave?

Whether you we're born and raised here
Whether you came for university
Or for a job more recently
In the pursuit of happiness
Do you believe in accessibility?
Do you believe in democracy?
Do you believe in equality?
Do you believe in Brighton?

You tell me
Brighton is as important as Chelsea
But big advertisers don't advertise
In local Brighton media

You tell me
The scales are tipping and gate keepers no longer hold the key
People are very promiscuous online
The supply of media has gone up but demand has stayed static
Anyone can publish but you have to earn respect through your work

You tell me
Brighton needs more partnership and sticky money
Brighton Albion needs a promotion to the premier league
Football clubs are not just about sport, they are about community
And bring millions of pounds into a city

You tell me
Artist ignore business at your peril
The lowest common denominator is "how do I pay my rent?"

You talk of property pornography
Who lives where and how many rooms do they have?
You ask should Brighton and Hove split up and if they do what happens to the kids

You say the kids think it was always this way for the LGBT community
And within your community you are the only line of history
It's was only 6 years ago that the council flew the rainbow flag for the first time
You say it's Pride
You say we have to bring everyone along for the ride
We've got the legislation but have we got their hearts and minds?
They think Brighton is sorted, gay capital
You say Harvey Milk was right, everyone needs to know a gay person
I say everyone needs to see a black boss and where were they today?

You say Brighton is a gem amongst a conservative county
You tell me the undercurrent in this city is not as cool as people think
Communities of interest are becoming less trusting
You tell me there's a lack of the respect agenda here

They want to turn Hollingbury to Hollywood
Bevendean to Beverley Hills
You say we must be mindful of
Where we put our money
What philosophies we live under and invest in
You say we have freedom of choice
You ask what are we contributing
To ourselves?  
To our employees?
To our customers?
What is our legacy?

What is your legacy?
You tell me...


Award-winning writer and performance poet Dean Atta wrote ‘You tell me’ at the Centenary Summit on Friday 19th April.

Atta graduated from the University of Sussex with a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and English. He has been commissioned to write poems for the Damilola Taylor Trust, Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Atta won the 2012 London Poetry Award and was named as one of the most influential LGBT people by the Independent on Sunday Pink List 2012. An ambassador for the Spirit of London Awards, he lives in London and teaches writing workshops across the UK. Dean Atta's debut poetry collection 'I Am Nobody's Nigger' is out now on The Westbourne Press.

In partnership with New Writing South, Atta runs a monthly poetry night in Brighton at The Writers' Place in Jew Street called 'Come Rhyme With Me'.

Photography: Kelly Tokarz