Wil Roach

Wil Roach has completed the first book of a 3-part memoir, Black Gay  Underage: a Memoir of London. He has also had several short stories and essays published online. As a poet, Wil appeared at the Sydney Writers Festival (2015), and has participated in and won several local spoken word events. He has produced three one-man shows with childhood themes, including in Sydney (2016) and the Adelaide Fringe Festival (2017). Wil is currently researching race, masculinity and sexuality for a series of long form essays. Contact Wil at sydneysoa@gmail.com

Wil Roach on writing memoir

Writing enables me to give voice to my untold stories, those that have existed for longer than I can remember. Ghost stories that I thought would remain shrouded in mystery have developed my writer’s voice so that these memories are made flesh and have then taken shape on the page. Now I can see myself more clearly and without sadness.

I owe my passion for telling and enacting stories to my parents and countless unseen but not unknown ancestral presences. I give the highest praise to them. When I was itching to escape from my father’s endless re-telling of how he met my mother or went to school barefoot during Trinidad and Tobago’s colonial era, little did I know that I too, with initial reluctance and now with utter confidence, would be telling stories to others who sometimes itch to run away!

Yet in setting my early childhood story to paper, I’ve healed the disappointment I felt when entering a library during my teenage years, I found none of my father’s stories or anything like them in any books I handled there. I would pull open a book, any book, in the hope that a suggestive title might unlock a glorious reflection on what I recognised as our Caribbean lives lived in London. For so many years this was not the case – until now, when my own story has been published to rectify some part of that vacuum in knowledge.

Copyright Wil Roach.

As a regular contributor to Sydney Writers Circle’s weekly meetups, Wil Roach has created a memoir of great sensitivity as well as a valuable document about social oppression and change

Here he explains the sense of achievement he feels since he’s immersed himself in a world of writing. You can buy Black, Gay & Underage, his memoir on growing up in London in the ’60s as a child of Caribbean migrants here.

‘Words have filled my imagination since before I could possibly know what they meant. I used to hear my parents recite English poetry with a Trinidadian lilt, and tell endless stories from their less-than-idyllic childhoods and in young adulthood as British colonial subjects.

‘At school I used to follow the strictures of my English Literature teachers with varying degrees of excitement and dread, never considering myself a writer but, instead, a dispatcher of exam results. Then in my late teens I discovered philosophy through the works of Simone Weil, and existentialism through the writing of John Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.

‘Now I am a writer, not complete but on a journey that has begun in earnest.

‘I write and perform my own poetry publicly. I am writing the first of three books of memoir dealing with migration, integration and further adventures. I enjoy writing extended essays and short stories.  For me to inhabit that world of writing, which I once only read about, feels like a miracle.’ Wil Roach