Poet Nick Makoha talks about his new show My Father and Other Superheroes at Pegasus on Thursday

How did I get here? The last time I checked I was a freelance poet. But here I am on a national tour of my debut one-person show, My Father and Other Superheroes. What started out as silly workshop idea at Theatre Royal Stratford has culminated in two-year project with a sold-out showcase at the Southbank Centre, Polka Theatre and Unicorn Theatre, among others.

On one level my show is about how, as a boy, I coped with my absent father. Put simply, I looked to the page and screen to replace him: what would Spiderman, Superman, or Luke Skywalker do if confronted with the trials of an immigrant’s life in London? (My mother and I fled Uganda when I was young.) But on another, very important level My Father and Other Superheroes is about learning to be a father, something that no amount of superhero training entirely prepares you for.

It’s been a remarkable journey for me from that boyhood confusion to where I am now. After all, I was a ‘no’ to being a playwright, ‘no’ to being an actor and a ‘no’ to taking what I had written and performing as a solo artist. The only thing I was a ‘yes’ to was being a father to my first child, though that scared me a lot. If I’m honest, creatively and professionally my confidence was at an all time low.

Things began to change when I was accepted onto the Complete Works, a national development programme for advanced Black and Asian poets. Hungarian-born poet George Szirtes was my mentor on that programme, and I remember sitting in his office in Norwich trying to absorb every single word he said. He speaks in a burst of insightful parables, so this wasn’t always easy, and taking notes or interrupting his flow only slowed down the transformation. The dictaphone on my iPhone was a strong ally. Listening is a way of seeing the world beneath its surface.

George said that as a poet, he and I both belong to a lake of other poets who have come from all difficult cultures, creeds and concepts. And as a poet we must not seek to remove ourselves from the lake but instead add ourselves to it. As a writer in exile, these words were life-giving and acted as a call to adventure.