I like Bruce Chatwin's Songlines, because I spent a year in Alice Springs and many of the characters in the book are friends of mine. I love Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast. It's weird and eccentric and a brilliant piece of imaginative writing.
I go to clubs to find exciting poets who can engage young people. I work a lot with a poet who calls himself Crisis. I first heard him at an open mic evening in the 291 Gallery in Hoxton, east London. He calls himself a spoken-word artist. He's very charismatic. He partly talks, partly sings, and the kids eat out of his hand. There's also a woman on the London poetry circuit called Surreal. She does this fantastic, evocative song, telling kids they are the future, and her body language is very interesting. She curls up and reaches out and points to the kids. They go wild.
I've just seen The Motorcycle Diaries. The real reason I went was because I've done the same trip on water. When I was about 24 I had a boyfriend who was an expert canoeist. We flew to Colombia, stayed in a village where the mosquitoes were like Boeing 747s and then canoed down the Amazon. I even swam. Afterwards people said, "Didn't you worry about piranhas?", but when you're young you think nothing bad is going to happen.
Treat in store
I want to see the new Bridget Jones film. When you're working in a difficult part of east London you need a bit of light relief.
Best on the web
John Hegley has a funny website: www.johnhegley.co.uk. I'm very fond of his poetry. He's mad as a hatter.
I'm a Bob Marley fan. I like Manu Chao. He's French but sings in Spanish.
It's great dancing music. And Black Ivory Soul, the album by Angelique Kidjo (pictured). I went to a concert she did at the Royal Festival Hall, which can be a bit stuffy, but she had everybody dancing in the aisles.
Maggie Crosbie is a literature development worker with Eastside Arts (1 Winkley Street, London E2). Her work includes projects with schools in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. She was talking to Karen Gold