Your Voice Crosses The Ocean: Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award Commended Anthology 2019

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year

“Becoming a Foyle Young Poet showed me that my voice is worthy of being listened to, as are the voices of everyone who enters it.” – Dana Collins, winner, Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2019

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year The Poetry Society 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX, UK Cover: James Brown, © The Poetry Society & authors, 2020 The title of this anthology, Your Voice Crosses the Ocean, is from Isabella Cho’s commended poem, ‘Mariner’, 2019, p.42.

Your Voice Crosses the Ocean Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2019

Contents Introduction Daniel Chen Abhilipsa Sahoo Elizabeth Thatcher Ifeoluwa Olatona Rian Paton Jimin Lee Pacey Holloway Anya Trofimova Cosima Deetman Reda Ziani Khushi Daryani Corina Robinson Hannah George Meena Rakasi Ishika Jha Sarah Yang Sandra Chen Samyukta Iyer Plum Hector-Taylor Anne Kwok Shaw Worth Amelia Clark Katie Kirkpatrick Neha Agrawal Isabella Cho

8 Church Ode to a Niece Emergency Defibrillator Chocolate is a Redeemer Ode tae masel Seoul: Soul The ABCs of Politics natal: relating to the place or time of one’s birth Claim to Fame Pain My Lover Eats Words For Supper Nobody Knows What Dinosaurs Really Sounded Like If I had a name like... Mango History remembers Mother as Sea Monster in America my grandfather’s grove Oatmeal and Placebos Objects Devoid of Any Romanticism Obsessive Orion Spinach A love poem Teen Girl Mariner

11 12 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 26 27 28 30 31 32 34 35 36 37 38 41 42

Esther Kim Martha Iris Blue Lucy Gardner Ploy Techawatanasuk Anna Gilmore Heezen Rain Wang Esin Aynal Kitty Robinson Callum Roberts Zannamarie Ashton Evelyn Byrne Eryn Lee Santiago McDonnell Grundy Jessica Lawrence Ari Vishin Amélie Nixon Sarah Nazir Thariny Suresh Emma Miao Nabeha Dhar Joshua Wood Duy Quang Mai Dasiy Winstone Eve Connor Sophie Thynne William An Adriana Aida Che Ismail Eve Warden Jayla Blaba

What We Carry with Us Blue Jay Shellfish TEENAGER!! With Bad Teeth Celestial Acne Volcano Tinnitus Cabinet Gender vs Meaning Death Diamonds Kin You don’t where

44 45 46 48 50 52 53 54 55 56 58 59 60

What’s right, or do I mean left, or wrong? Lessons From Hebrew Class ribbit requiem love in the movies a face in the puddle fortunes from a lost generation Dear Mr Trump Be Brave Diction (Diary): Autumn Waiting The Man in the Street drowning in dementia Mother Inheritance Mrs Blossom Mother

62 64 65 66 67 68 70 72 74 78 79 80 82 84 85 87



Eve Lawson Lucy Stone Poppy Wallhead Isabelle English Rowan Jessop Kate Moore Nancy Gittus Sarah Nachimson Aziza Adam Sam Carrick Jacob Heagney Olivia Petris Emilia Brooks Sinéad O’Reilly Ahana Banerji Xinyue Jenny Jiang Aimee Hartley Elise Withey Nizara Ziaudeen Ali Nyirenda Heather Hughes Kai Jardine Mia Cassidy Arna Kar Jacob Keneson Ella Stanton Charlotte Mills

Dear Mother I have a lost saturn Are you angry yet? Bobby Clones 9am conversations with God The Lady We Let Out at Tesco Obituary for Lost Girl When My Grandmother was Five My Mum has No Ears Lies About the Sea The Kill Tree The Water is Rising The envelopes Sapphic Ode to Aphrodite my City and I That Little Voice a song for Josie Post Script Hide and go seek The Rope Swings Transgender Life Growing up with a Father not a Dad What an Astronaut has for Tea Fire in Alexandria Something old, new, borrowed, blue 1 in 1000


87 90 92 94 96 98 99 100 102 104 105 107 108 110 111 112 113 114 116 117 118 119 120 122 123 124 126

Ella Saville Anjali Mulcock Sophie White Meredith LeMaître

The Magic Box Birthing a tongue The Girl by the Window Turquoise Love

Foyle Young Poets of the Year, winners and commendeds The Poetry Society The Foyle Foundation Young writers and The Poetry Society Schools and The Poetry Society Poetry Class – new resource for secondary schools Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020 Access and nominate your teacher


127 128 130 134 136 137 138 138 139 140 141 142

Acknowledgements The Poetry Society is deeply grateful for the generous funding and commitment of the Foyle Foundation, and to Arts Council England for its ongoing support. We would also like to thank Bloodaxe, Bookmark, Brittle Star, Burning Eye, Chatto, Divine, Faber, Forward, Inpress, Macmillan, Menard Press, Nine Arches, OutSpoken, Paperblanks, Peepal Tree, Picador, Poems on the Underground, Royal National Institute for the Blind, Smokestack, Stonewood Press, The Emma Press and Two Rivers Press for providing winners’ prizes. Thanks to Chris Riddell for his wonderful illustrations and Paul Antonio for the winners’ certificates. We thank our judges Raymond Antrobus and Jackie Kay for their passion and enthusiasm, and for helping to make this year’s competition such a success. Thanks also to the array of poets who helped in the judging process: they were Jade Cuttle, Phoebe Thomson, Phoebe Stuckes, Keith Jarrett, Adham Smart, Sarah Fletcher, Ella Duffy and Jacqui Adeniji Williams. Our particular thanks to Jane Draycott and Hannah Lowe.


We thank Southbank Centre, which hosted the prize-giving ceremony, and Arvon for hosting the Foyle Young Poets’ residency so expertly and warmly. Thank you to Marcus Stanton Communications for raising awareness of the competition, and to our network of educators and poets across the UK for helping us to inspire so many young writers. Finally, we applaud the enthusiasm and dedication of the young people and teachers who make the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award the great success it is today.


Introduction “If poetry is the language of being human, here we have poets speaking in every cadence possible. We were happy to get a sense of how many poets come from all different corners of the world – for there are no borders or boundaries to cross in the world of poetry and no one need carry a passport to get in.” – Raymond Antrobus & Jackie Kay, Judges, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award celebrates its twenty-second anniversary in 2020. Since 1998, the award has been finding, celebrating and supporting the very best young poets from around the world. Founded by The Poetry Society, the award has been supported by the Foyle Foundation since 2001 and is firmly established as the key competition for young poets aged between 11 and 17 years. This booklet features poems by the top 15 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019 and celebrates the names of the 85 commended poets. The competition received over 11,000 poems from over 6,000 young poets from across the UK and around the world. Writers from 76 different countries entered the competition from as far afield as Japan, Vietnam, Romania and Mexico, as well as the four corners of the UK. From these poems, judges Jackie Kay and Raymond Antrobus selected 100 winners made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets. The competition’s scale and global reach shows what a huge achievement it is to be selected as one of our winners.


Raymond and Jackie commented that “this year over 6,000 poets entered the competition – proving to us how many people are turning to poetry to express themselves in these times... We are delighted to get such a strong sense of poetry being a living, breathing, relevant form that keeps changing across generations.” This winners’ anthology, together with an online anthology of the 85 commended poems, showcases the talent of our fantastic winners and is distributed free to schools, libraries, reading groups and poetry lovers across the UK and the world. We hope that the quality of writing on display will inspire even more young writers to enter the competition in future years. All 100 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award received a range of brilliant prizes, including a year’s youth membership of The Poetry Society and a goody bag stuffed full of books donated by our generous supporters. The Poetry Society will continue to support winners throughout their careers, providing publication, performance and development opportunities, as well as access to a paid internship programme. The top 15 poets were invited to attend a week’s writing course at the Arvon residential centre The Hurst, in Shropshire. There they spent a week with experienced tutors focusing on improving their poetry and establishing a community of writers. Alongside the prize, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award programme includes a range of initiatives to encourage and enable young writers, both in school and independently. Every year, we distribute free teaching resources to every secondary school in the UK, share tips from talented teachers and arrange poet-led workshops in areas of low engagement.


In 2019 we introduced a new initiative where students were able to nominate teachers who have helped inspire poetry in the classroom. ‘Nominate Your Teacher’ received 82 nominations from across the world. The Poetry Society’s education team selected four teachers who stood out from a very impressive list of testimonials from students: Miss Davis from Wycombe Abbey School, Mrs McKenzie from Dartford Grammar School for Girls, Miss Wafa from Twickenham School ,and Mr Armstrong from Hellesdon High School. The 2019 Teacher Trailblazers received school membership for their school, Poetry Society membership for themselves and commissions from The Poetry Society to create teaching resources based on some of the 2019 Foyle winning poems. The teaching resources will also be included in our brand new secondary school poetry resource book, which will be published to coincide with the launch of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020. Our celebration of excellent teaching will support young poets everywhere, so that there is more outstanding poetry to celebrate each year.


Daniel Chen Church Margaret thinks she knows God. She is humble before Him, her thin kneecaps aching against the plywood she kneels on. She doesn’t dare to look up at the stained glass portrait – His eyes are jagged: non-organic shards filtering sun. Her husband sings a Psalm by her, shaky breaths fighting the cholesterol clogging his thick veins. Her children stopped coming to church after they went to college – now they smoke weed Saturday nights, don’t wake up until noon, and don’t call her anymore. Margaret thinks that they’re busy. Margaret thinks that they want to call her but don’t have the time. Margaret thinks this Thanksgiving they will all hold hands and say grace under God.


Abhilipsa Sahoo Ode to a Niece The moon is the oldest uncle in our house. Older than “maa”, scouring the smallest cooker, curry simmering low on the kitchen counter, her hands in the sink, some clanking silverware-these perfect pieces of the sun. Older than “baba”, his saccharine dipped stache living one lifetime within the pages of the yellowed newspaper creased as a crescent, with some unhindered prophecy, he does not ask for salvation in glittering, glimmering things. Older than the nightingale, wailing on brown fences, sometimes, the balcony, leaned on tall, green grasses – a burial for the cricket chirps, now she sings in exasperation, for quiet, self-sunken blossoms and honeysuckle. Older than the stranger, the newcomer, a trespasser making incorporate decisions in broadcasted horrors of the night, the orison howls like a coward wolf, pronouncing through windows. Onto woods, unaware of the tenderness in the descendants of light. Older than the cemetery walls, who hungry mouth is a cave of thriving emotions, pesters me so often, my poems do not feel like waking up, until “Chanda-mama” caresses with cut flowers, succulent leaves, and rudder breezes of the fall.


The moon is the eldest in our house, his love mirrors in his caverns, in the young river’s edge, where poppies blow even in his absence, eclipsed, even when the world hasn’t been too kind to him, even when the billions of tiny celestial anatomies fluctuate faces of his many, many nephews and nieces.

Key phrases “maa”: mother “baba”: father “Chanda-mama”: Moon-uncle


Elizabeth Thatcher Emergency Defibrillator My granny’s village has an emergency defibrillator instead of a phone box and I know this because we’re here for Easter like we are most years, but this year my cousin is dead. I sit beneath the sun. I open my book. I inhale. I taste a ticking clock. I can count how many Easters left till I move out on a single hand. A woman on a horse dressed in black riding gear just passed by the window and the horse’s steps sounded like a knock.


Ifeoluwa Olatona Chocolate is a Redeemer I am trying to eat amala tonight. I think of God and throats often. Being African is a religion. I am sixteen, highly unfervent. I read its holy words like sand in my mouth, embarrassing my grandparents. I was born the colour of brown sugar, a home of honey at the back of my mouth. I grew up forgetting. I coiled my tongue and wasted saliva spewing imaginary snow, cherishing its texture more than pounded yam. I feared the weight of my name and envied the fluffy feel of Smith and Peterson. I tugged my hair and pulled it through my teeth to make it curl. It remained coiled, stubborn, like my African home in me. Being an African boy is a religion. Highly unfervent, my penitence reflects in a taste for ankara and chocolates. Yes, chocolates. They are great redeemers like Google Translate. Perhaps even greater. It’s lovely to eat a slight representation of yourself, even if it doesn’t, like amala, taste of home or wear a much darker, truthful shade of your skin.


Rian Paton Ode tae masel First hing a wis taut wis that am wrang “Ned” “junkie” “speak proper” Ya cheeky torn faced git bugger aff and chase yersel A wisnae me Dinae say it Ma haunds wir no ma haunds Ma fit wisnae ma fit Ma airms no airms Ma heid turned oan itsel and said “aye so a fuckin will ya glakit walloper” Dinae say it Dinae say it A wis told tae stand tall, spine oot , an tae get that look aff ma face Glesga smile, r’s rolling better than ye Take yer enunciation an stick it up yet arse Get tae, an send us a postcard Dinae say it Dinae say it Dinae say it You, ya gallus wee bairn You arenae that braw Pokey hat eatin Knife weildin Stane thraeing Chain smoking Car bombin wain Dinae say it Dinae say it


Promise ye on ma maws deed accent That am nae kidding when a say They’re mare feart a you than they are of the monsters in the water Mare feart o the breath in yer lungs an the memory of yer voice Than that war yer threatnin them wi Dinae say it DINAE SAY IT Look troops there’s the polis Dinae say it Right wan nuthin daft Dinae say it A just want my voice back See me? Am the full square sausage The joker frae the West end So no quite yoker Would scrap wi any wideo that wanted it Why? Cause yer a shitebag if ye Dinae say it Remember wee yin, they can take our hame, they can burn our haunds, but ma arse will being hanging out the windae fore they try an tell me that am ever wrang again, Dinae say it


Jimin Lee Seoul: Soul As I pack to leave, I find my hanbok, creased along the rainbow patterns of its sleeves. I pick it up and wonder how much of Korea I will remember when I leave for America. Always remember you’re Korean. I wonder if someday I will miss Seoul’s naked skies, if someday I will learn to misspell Seoul as Soul. My cousins abroad say, everything American is good. They romanize their names. I remember the summer I visited New York City, its buildings and people with smiles that never reached their eyes – the city almost like Soul.


Pacey Holloway The ABCs of Politics Armed alumni assassinate abruptly. Blinded Brits brave Brexit. Cloned clowns commonly clashing. Discriminating dictatorship does damage. Ethically enriched entrepreneurs evolving everything. Forever forgetting fighting fathers. Gluttony gradually growing. Harsh, hurtful howls. Impulsive imagination illustrating images. Jurors justifying jail. Kindness kills key knowledge. Lazy labels lessen liberty. Money making miserable, mindless members. Neglected neighbourhoods needing nurses. Obvious offences over-looking optimism. Powerful people publicating pessimism. Questionable qualifications. Repulsive racial rants regulating racism. Selfish sacrifices seclude society. Tendency to target tenth-rate territories. Unfortunate, universal unemployment. Vandalising various victims. Weak wages widely worry workers. X-out xenophobia. Yawning yet yelling. Zombified Zillionaires.


Anya Trofimova natal: relating to the place or time of one’s birth (Oxford Dictionary) didn’t you rip down the front-porch-lavender? the roots could not resist your blunted claws. you left the soil all ravaged and ruptured drenched with sweat and your vaguely-oriental musk like the crows gorging in the undivided fields at the far end of summer and severed cornstalks everywhere. didn’t you stand vicar on the threshold before the vicar your face smeared with powder and dad’s cologne sheepish like a milkless cow? and when motherhood began didn’t you rise thigh-deep in soiled water, with seams split unearthed, stitches undone, loose at your knees, cracked-lipped and laughing amazement at the animal you had become?


Cosima Deetman Claim to Fame Last week I was sitting in a café when a film crew from Japan burst through the double doors with two cameras and two microphones. Alone in my uniform, I was giving off those sad schoolgirl vibes that Japanese men like so much and so their lenses locked on me before I could say no. A waiter stacked cakes beside my (now empty) mug until they touched my chin, with the expectation that I might take bites intermittently. The interpreter then asked some questions: are all the cafés here this dreary? Is coffee addiction as serious as in America? Do we like green tea? Naturally, I spoke for the entire British population, just as a woman with ‘voice actor’ on her resume will later speak for me in Japanese, and twice as loud – the beauty of dubbing. Did you know this show will be her big break? From Nagasaki to Hokkaido, she’ll star in tacky shampoo ads and then high-production films until her face is smeared on every billboard. Merchandise sales. An album. An autobiography. She’ll be the first Asian woman on the moon.


Reda Ziani Pain Father said, You should only have Four Friends because it only takes Four people to bury you.

I wish I could get the old out of everyone instead of these new ones.

Staring in plain sight as if something has always been there.


Khushi Daryani My Lover Eats Words For Supper and there’s music for dinner soft melody melting away at touch sprinkle some hellos for seasoning a scoop of ‘how was your day?’ the clink clink of plates a clatter of spoons, forks, silence words condense into nothingness fade away at dawn are boiled in hot water gobbled up with rice we do not speak here we have nothing to say love is only a metaphor syllables lurk inside cupboards silverware rattles fills the house with noise a distant orchestra hums


Corina Robinson Nobody Knows What Dinosaurs Really Sounded Like Maybe they are nowhere near Jurassic Park level loud, as embarrassing as that would be. Imagine going back in time and realizing dinosaurs really sound like me when I see a spider in my room. Or when my brother loses 1st place in Fortnite. I think dinosaurs sound like girls at One Direction’s last concert, or “You almost made me drop my croissant!” I want to meet the one who sat down and gave dinosaurs the power to sound like murder. Who pondered and thought it was a good idea to hype up animals that are extinct. Tell them they got it all types of wrong. Because dinosaurs have to be less intimidating than my mother when she is cut off in traffic. When the rice comes close to burning. When she finds out a white co-worker is paid more than her. They can’t screech louder than her when she gave birth to me without a doctor. When the hospital was deemed unworthy, because the women from this family have themselves and an endless tolerance for blood. Nothing living or extinct has the right to overpower her with a sound. I still lay next to her as if I am growing in her again, like I wish to breathe inside of her instead of out. I hug my mother like I never learned how to walk, like I’m not leaving for college in nine months.


I think dinosaurs really sound like I will years from now at my mother’s funeral, because I don’t know how to exist without her yet.


Hannah George If I had a name like... If I had a name like Eli Lane, I’d know the crows all by name. And my pockets would cough dust and Rusty coins from the pier’s arcade. If I had a name like Eli Lane I’d be hunched in the corner of a hazy café With one hand running through my fringe. Smelling faintly of sage. And one darting across an illegible page. If I had a name like Eli Lane My walls would be fissured, Inches tacked With memories that once seemed to glimmer Kodak. If I had a name like Eli Lane I’d smile when you laugh And the things I’d done wrong.


Meena Rakasi Mango Ask an Indian for a mango, and they’ll tell you: An entire pantheon Smiled down on Hanuman as he reached For the sun For cubes of fruit, heavy sticky sweet 8.99 at Whole Foods, precut. And I have never bit into flesh Without tasting myself, or who I was meant to be: eyebrows hooked at the center like wings; red at the pinnacle of my forehead; gelabi, all saccharine and sugar smeared across lips and brown skin concealing saffron and prayer sung in languages I can’t speak, and There is no gelabi in California, and so I settle for mango, 8.99 at Whole Foods, precut.


Ishika Jha History remembers History remembers Cleopatra as beautiful. That is a lie. Statues and coins with hooked noses and strong features don’t show her as the “femme fatale” we expect to see. Instead, Cleopatra was captivating. Her voice, that could speak in up to nine languages, paired with irresistible charm brilliant wit and a sharp mind, was a weapon greater than any beauty. She was raised with the knowledge of the finest philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, and poets of her time, gifted with the finest education possible in the Greek world. As ruler, she curbed corruption commanded armies sustained stability spared grain to the poor and strengthened her kingdom.


But her story has survived today through the eyes of her enemies, whispers of false rumours and old stereotypes. Here, they say, rather than a protagonist in her own right, she is a side-character in the lives of men, an evil seductress who led great Romans astray. Her enemies have succeeded. Because before it remembers her as a linguist, a conversationalist, a fleet commander, or even a powerful ruler, History remembers Cleopatra as beautiful.


Sarah Yang Mother as Sea Monster in America Every weekend, my mother swallows this country with shĹ?chu, the insides of her cheeks sheen with scales. When I touch her, my fingers are dripping with storm. She grows five fins and loses all her hair, smashing syllables between teeth and leaking light. Her new skin is always glowing. In this wilderness language, I imagine that I am a small beast who knows how to swim or I pretend to be part bird because I am tired of my mother mistaking hunger for home. She feeds me her wedding ring, tells me that whatever we can love, we should eat. I look more like her chewing on her clothes. On land in bedroom, my mother kisses me, stretching my skin into a sheet that furls from a single fist of smoke. Night ends with my name being cupped like a flame. & I want to dream about you the way an ocean drains its salt before wounding a coastline. but Mother, I keep wondering how we have come this far imagining that you could undress any body of water. Mother, when you clawed at the bed frame & I laid my head on your lap, know that I slept sadly.


Sandra Chen my grandfather’s grove with a line from ‘Wild Birds Unlimited’ by Lucia Perillo used to be that this place was a grove. when my grandfather lived here, he planted trees where his words wouldn’t take root. his mouth wrinkled around english like the peeled skin of fruit but his hands could sing to the soil. each day he rose with the sun and nurtured saplings like he had the daughter he now stayed with. his favorite was the pipa tree which bore fruit with sweet yellow flesh encased around stone seeds. when did this garden turn to stone and with it his progeny? my grandfather returned to his own soil and the backyard left with him. my mother’s hands, trained to type quickly on plastic keys, let go of song. so the jiucai wilted, the gouqizi bush withered. now all that’s left is a patch of grass, yellowed by the california sun like an archive lost to time.


Samyukta Iyer Oatmeal and Placebos I’ve had messed up the skin The doctors say it's chronic But taking steroids ages me As a teenager taking tonic My arsenal of weapons Is composed of lotions Creams and meds Maybe one of them Can stop the relentless spread of red I ebb and flow down Through the cuts and bumps and breakings I can never watch myself when I itch I can’t stand to see myself shaking It overtakes some part of me When I’m weak and tired at night Confusing and strangling the reason within me That knows it can’t win this fight My skin is a fussy child The lotions must be mild To conquer and calm The overactive dry skin The temperature, moist The air, not polluted And don’t get me started on travel I’ve already pursued it Every doctor and healer has seen in my hands Rubbing leaves into those glands The Vedic, the western, they all come to shame


And when the appointment finishes, who do i have to blame? So I control my diet No eggplants or paneer Carry lotion everywhere Cuz I can never shake the fear That I will be confronted As my skin begins to dry The flakiness overtaking it So I cannot afford to feign blind My hands are fickle But useful nonetheless I write, I play, I draw, and slowly I take some control of this mess


Plum Hector-Taylor Objects Devoid of Any Romanticism I like the way I look walking through an art gallery in a meditative state and I can see myself through eyes of twenty somethings choking on their turtle necks who like the way I look and the way they look walking through an art gallery I stop and stare at a painting he looks back at me ribs protruding as if making a desperate attempt to escape and the woman to his left looks tired the woman always looks tired I am losing my shit in an art gallery and Gerard Richter does not seem to notice or care everyone talks so loudly gesticulating, as if the rapid movements of their hands will distract from the stream of bullshit leaving their mouths they do not know how to look at art and somewhere on a shelf Karel April is throwing paint across a canvas menacingly and I am bored of angry men and their art.


Anne Kwok Obsessive I have always placed my foot sm ack in the middle of square tiles. No part of me out of grid, topog raphy can dissect my body. Befo re I sleep I pray to God three tim es lying on my right, then my le ft where more organs crush my heart. Because I’m scared of dy ing, I dream of separating my bo dy into pieces, how my hands do not belong to me, how they deta ch so I will not have to clench the m five times obsessive. I want to sleep with my own chest glued op en. I want to be assembled backw ards into my mother’s womb. To s oak in darkness so final – I shoul d have never welcomed this body.


Shaw Worth Orion My grandfather has become a master hunter. He stands in front of our refrigerator, tracking in his hands and his grass-stalk body some thought of food. The prey escapes. He drifts away, leaves the door ajar. His daughter, like me, has been watching. She and I move through the kitchen and memories of years of his stuttering Skype calls (bad WiFi in the garden). His once-blond hairs vanish in the sun. In the portrait gallery I see him staring again. His eyes are blue and intent and mimic the glass covering the pigments, the oil. These last two years he’s quieter and again quieter, dimming even his breath, his thoughts (his hands still shake).


Amelia Clark Spinach Spinach, spinach Oh I hate the stuff. It’s slippery and sloppy But my mum can’t get enough! She has it’s for breakfast, For lunch and for tea. Oh I hate it, I hate it But she won’t listen to me! Spinach, spinach, Oh it’s ghastly stuff! It’s disgusting, it’s horrible, Oh I hate it so much! My mum thinks spinach is the tool, To make me healthy, to make me drool. But if there is one thing I have learnt from this It is that spinach is just not cool!


Katie Kirkpatrick A love poem this is a love poem. this is a pining away for days until he looks you in the eye poem. this is a savour that moment for the four days it takes for it to happen again poem. this is a think about messaging him and then decide against it and then think again and then decide against it again poem. this is a he stops you at the end of class and asks if you want to get lunch tomorrow poem. (this is a swear to yourself you won’t tell anyone at all and then tell three people poem.) this is a spend over an hour deciding what to wear and make your room into a tip and then feel guilty because if you were a proper feminist you wouldn’t care poem. this is a spend another hour deciding how to do your hair anyway poem. this is an arrive before him of course poem. this is a two hours of talking and awkward eye contact and good toasties poem. this is a tomorrow, in the park poem. this is a spring afternoon and summer breeze poem. this is a what are we poem. this is a difficult conversations that are exciting at the same time poem. this is a maybe we’ll keep it casual for at least a few weeks poem. this is a both invited to the same party poem. this is a tight skirts, loose shirts, one too many vodkas, making out in the corner of the kitchen poem. this is a guess it’s official then poem. this is a not telling people because you don’t have to poem. this is a weekly coffee dates with tea instead of coffee poem. this is a weekly tea dates poem. 38

this is a first sober make out session poem. this is a pink cheeks and uncontrollable laughter poem. this is a long, deep conversations at one a.m. poem. this is a first I love you poem. this is a kissing poem. this is a trip to London poem. this is a trips everywhere, always falling asleep on each other on the journey back poem. this is a photos of the other asleep poem. this is a summer evenings poem. this is a sunset, cool air, grass and the smell of beer poem. this is a mushy but sweet romantic texts poem. this is a reunited after the holidays hug poem. this is a kissing under the stars and loving that you can say kissing under the stars poem. this is a back to school poem. this is a months of cross-classroom eye contact, far more frequent than before poem. this is a teacher catches on poem. this is a friends are simultaneously supportive and absolutely sick of it, in the best way poem. this is a couples Halloween costumes ideas poem. this is a dancing and moonlight costume poem. this is a knowing it’s terrible but telling everyone about that time you saw toploader poem. this is a stealing each other’s jumpers and coats poem. this is a sharing hot chocolates poem. this is a throwing a snowball just slightly too hard poem. this is a thinking it’s just a bruise but still being in pain two hours later poem. this is a trip to a & e poem. 39

this is a good story to tell the grandkids poem. this is a disguised look of shock and guilt poem. this is a sometimes wishing you didn’t notice poem. this is a sometimes wishing you didn’t know them as well as you do poem. this is a long conversation but very short answers poem. this is an apology that almost works but doesn’t quite poem. this is a give me a week poem. this is a quiet tears poem, because you’re not melodramatic poem. this is a can we talk please can we talk poem. this is a seeing him with your friends and not being able to walk over and sitting in the music rooms by yourself poem. this is a four texts in a row poem. this is a reply poem. this is a do you want to get lunch tomorrow poem. this is a sadder hours picking out what to wear but caring just as much poem. this is a two hours of awkward talking and fleeting eye contact and good toasties poem. this is a trying poem. this is a love poem.


Neha Agrawal Teen Girl here i am in-side your thoughts / detached i swear i can see myself > this is some perennial substitute reality > i think i’d rather like to stay here please in the sainsbury’s parking lot holding your hand & a balloon hiding from: responsibility / growing too fast / and such > frankly, lipstick scares me / all those aggressive reds and oranges in a fix please help please i’ve lost my phone / my keys / my real face > in-terestingly i’m slowly losing knowledge of who’s fake / who’s not > don’t you see you can’t see through them at first glance in-destructive & in-vincible & in-eradicable when i want to be > in pain but i don’t think anybody wants to see more hurt > in-tolerable & too sensitive but i try not to be in between the lines of your newspaper if you’re looking / if you read closely enough in the screen of your phone / computer / tv / pick one i’ll be: the news presenter / acerbic / the journalist / that sexy one in the tight dress you’ll remember me you’ll love me i promise i swear > are you sure though > d’you really think i’m good enough?


Isabella Cho Mariner The day you left your grandmother wrapped kelp around your ankles, rubbed your shoulders with oil she pressed from the perilla plant that grew, fleshy and veined, under the blue mist of midsummer. To remind you that home is not where you’re headed, she said, for that new land is filled with scents of stone. When you boarded the waxed deck, suitcase shifting with the waves like a fearful eye, silver fish swam in slow circles around the harbor as if watching you leave, you who had spent a life tossing nets into sea, skin reddened by the insistent teeth of salt like ghosts in the water. A week before you left I met you by the port, told you to stay, told you that they hate people like us over there. You bent into the waves, broke open the back of a thrashing snapper and raised its opal sinew to the sun. We walked home and you showed me the brochures – supermarkets with rows of bright apples, shoe stores with boots in sizes too big for your feet. Christmas lights coiled around suburbia like thrown jewels, that mythical land spelled like a prayer in your head. How can this amount to violence, you asked, placing the brochures on my knees. To you I said, all of it. On Sundays I call you, wait for the slum thrum of the receiver before your voice crosses the ocean. I imagine you as you left but larger, bloated, hamburger grease on your mouth. Imagine you sliding a lawnmower against bluish grass for extra change, taking the quarters that smell of blood to the supermarket, the shore store, city aflame


in lights. There are gardens in your mouth, shame welling like the pit of a stone fruit against your canines. There’s water here, too, you reassure me over the sound of the neighbors screeching on their trampoline, but I’m sure those waves feel like wounds, like sleek hounds maddening your sore knees. I close my eyes and there you are amidst the black waves, wading farther and farther into the ocean’s unhinged mouth. The gruelling work of introducing yourself, over and over again, to a new and riotous sea. Remembering how you arrived, who you must have been to have yearned to arrive – the pearls, the baby teeth, the sculpted gourds stuffed with letters that you hurled overboard in prayer for a faster voyage. There is danger all around you, old love, and nothing but the waves to hold you, to murmur against your skin as night wanes and a violet dawn shows its face over the water’s edge.


Esther Kim What We Carry with Us to shed is to lose oneself. all around i have shed hair and words and culture, cultured myself differently with time, though time and time again, my name has taken on a more crooked form than before. i once wished to be Alice so that i could unearth some land of wonder, a land that homes the children of green plums and red chili – i am. i am, for my parents relinquished their motherland, traded dollars for airplane tickets and the intangible. as if two gods, they have breathed in me the stories that i tell, those from oceans away, where i stand on streets, hoping to get lost between mother tongue and faces – hope. this, we carry with us when our ancestors cannot.


Martha Iris Blue Blue Jay Blue Jay Ka, ...ka, ka – ka, he comes from afar he rushes through bushes, in - out, in - out, his quick legs hopping through raspberry canes a trampoline skip-trip thinker of thoughts of thoughts of thoughts of thoughts of hiding, of spying, of stealing keen-eyed, always on the watch looking out for fresh, ripe, spilling food, fruiting from others’ old tin bins...


Lucy Gardner Shellfish Learning to fry eggs With my mother Was awkward. She’s vegan. So I learned to fry eggs With myself Not my mother. The egg was so Imperfectly speckled, Cool from electricity Coldness like shells and prisons, Refrigerated. My skin was like fire, Soaked with the shell Its coolness, Coldness, 3-degree air preservative. A butter knife handle, Pushed against my lifelines, Her disapproving stare directed Away, Into the cupboard door. The gas, In no hurry to ignite, Spattered, Choked, Blue flames coughing Against the pan base.


A serrated, chipped knife blade, Tarnished, anointed with grease, Broke open its shell, “Unlocked” as my mother would say. She sniffs bitterly at the table. Clear membrane slides from Its prison, its protection, Entirely lifeless as the Yolk that fed its possibility. It pools into the oil, Swimming, drowning in fat. Slowly, it coagulates, Edges blurry white, Yolk heavy with suspense, Cooking far too close to burning, Trying to catch it Before it drowns in China chips – barnacles – of shell and Spitting oil. My mother still disapproves.


Ploy Techawatanasuk TEENAGER!! With Bad Teeth You should be scared of Me. I am a TEENAGER!! Don’t get too close didn’t your mommy teach you I’m in that biting age. My teeth grind against each other until They wrestle their way out of my mouth which Has become a cavern of carnage And they fall out in death row One by one A wet, grisly Plop! My accessories are permanent earphones And a noose around my neck – HAHAHA! I'm only joking. There’s nothing special about me or my friends. I don’t understand the big Fucking deal people make of nothing. Coming-of-age bullshit, we don’t blossom We’re not flowers, don’t you remember what I Said, I said I bite! I don’t write poems, I scream at walls. I don’t fall in love, I do homework And I cry, at least they got that right. I’m skin and feelings and bones Not a romantic metaphor, no, in fact, I’m brains I’m blood I’m Gore! I’m teeth I’m nails I’m angry!


God, I’m angry. I hate my reflection and writing this Is less profound Than what they want for a winning poem And I love my mom And my dad but how to say without Speaking because That goes wrong so easy. My sentences are running on and into Each other, They are marathon runners except They give no fucks about Foul play. No, they push And shove and it’s like They are on steroids and They trip over commas and periods but that’s not The point the point is I don’t know. The only bags I carry are the heavy Purple ones under my eyes That costed three sleepless nights That I spent, no, wasted trying to write something Where I’m more than what I am but I am TEENAGER!! Broken teeth and all. You should be scared of me. Sometimes I am too.


Anna Gilmore Heezen Celestial Acne Once, when I was fresh fifteen, I was laying on the sofa upside down, absent mindedly touching my face, While Grandma read the newspapers across the room, muttering about the anniversary for the moon landing and how he had watched it back in his day on TV and how times had changed etc etc, When: my roving fingers discovered a life form, an alien presence In the crescent of my outer-left-nostril. With a wail I informed the house (and possibly the whole street) That I had a new spot, my fifth of the week! My fifth of the week! Which resulted in Grandma lowering his newspaper a fraction. “Where?” He asked, squinting through his half-moon glasses. I moaned, and indicated, despairing. “So? You’re not the only one with skin afflictions,” he said. Seeing my venomous look he 50

0quickly hedged: “I mean, think about the moon! Talk about a pizza face!” “The moon?” I shrieked, incredulous. “Yes! Haven’t you ever noticed how many craters there are on his face?” I gave him a dubious eye roll (my fresh-fifteen speciality). “Think of Mars’ rosacea!” he persisted, “The sun’s psoriasis!” “Venus’s eczema!” “Saturn’s ringworm!” “Jupiter’s moles!!!” He paused, winded. I eyed him, curious to see where he was going with this outburst. “So you shouldn’t feel bad about your skin. Think of those planets! They didn’t let their celestial dermatology problems stop them. They went on to be giants in the universe. So will you." Seeing my confused look, he drove his point home with “You’re not alone, is all I'm saying.” Then, “Have you seen my slippers?” I smiled and shook my head before laying back down, feeling strangely reassured. Later I went to find my telescope. 51

Rain Wang Volcano I’ve lived in the bottom of the sea, waiting for millennia, in the depths of a hollow mountain, collecting, the glowing heart of the earth, growing, in the permafrost frozen for a million years, waiting, inside a cage of crystal clear glass with my family and young, waiting, waiting while the ocean rises cools, heats around my home, drifting, waiting for when I am needed to rebuild my home.


Esin Aynal Tinnitus Tinnitus is the name the doctor has given to the whirring sound in my right ear, which so fondly plays the same tune in my head over and over and over again At night when all is silent and dark, I can hear it’s voice once more before I sleep, a loud squeal going up and down a rubber balloon slowly deflating the crunchy rumble of a broken tv Instead of annoyance at this constant tornado whirl swirling in my ear, I felt only loneliness, at how I was the only one who could hear it’s petrifying squeal the cracked voice of angel screaming in the night It is incurable, they say, just learn to live with it. So I play it some radio every night as I fall asleep, so the minuscule sound in my right ear won’t have to sing alone in the night.


Kitty Robinson Cabinet A racist teacup here a homophobic saucer there but the British public are oblivious and no-one seems to care. The people in the cabinet are not fit for official use and if you look very closely, it’s the Tories’ little ruse. They’re playing with my future a game I won’t forgive what’s the point of hoping when in charge is a lying sieve. I want a habitable world one with Mother Nature’s kiss but we will not be allowed one whilst in charge of us is Boris. So come together everyone with Dettol and dusters all we need to do some cleaning and take this cabinet off the wall.


Callum Roberts Gender vs Meaning Humans are strange creatures they use abstractions to describe themselves. Meaning is a gift you give yourself. Gender is a jumper you knit and wear. Meaning is an unplanned flight path. Gender is discovery made, well – later.


Zannamarie Ashton Death “Hello, my name is Death, Get used to that name – You’ll be hearing it soon, xx” What is time, But a fracture in my sanity? What is sanity, But a shield of my humanity? What is humanity, But a weakness in my composure? What is composure, But a blocker of all things love? What is love, But an excuse to break someone’s heart? What is a heart, But the thing that makes you stupid? What is stupid, But the thing that makes you human? What is human, But a romanticised way of living? What is romanticised living, But an excuse for heartless raw sex? What is sex, But the creator of all that is living? What is living, But the beginning of all things Death? What is Death, But the one thing that is certain? The one and only friend;


Death is with you until the end. “Hello, my name is Death, Get used to that name – Because soon it is all you will know, xx”


Evelyn Byrne Diamonds The fish ate the diamond, ate the pearl, and the pearl became its eye, which gleamed in the sunlight as its rays rippled through the sea. But then the fish became woman and she crawled her way to shore where she was told you can eat fish eyes. So fish-woman cut out her own eye and ate it, and she couldn’t see or breathe anymore but instead she saw the future where her eye became pearl, became diamond again. And her eye diamond sliced her stomach open and fish-woman began to bleed. She bled until she wasn't woman anymore, just fish, and fish was caught. Gutted by monger who found that her stomach held another fish, with milky white eyes and pearly tears, which fish woman had once swallowed down. They tossed her body back into the sea.


Eryn Lee Kin in response to Hannah Lowe’s ‘Genealogy’ I carry my heart, away. My mother holds my hand away from home, I in hers. In the departure hall, I dare not to go of dread leaving my home. Where I hope. But it’s the once lived, slept, laughed and loved. Same old sick game. Where I no longer can be, always I smile and nod, have had will have places to be. The way I do. My tears are invisible, but mother always when he comes home with knows. I’ll miss you too, yet another dulcet perfume darling, she hugs me and hanging to his skin says. Makes me promise to greet. The chattering of strangers my lovely husband for her and the noise of my heart. I’m so glad you have someone I don’t know why I return. Who truly makes you happy.


Santiago McDonnell Grundy You don’t where While the moon shone on and cut out your toes from the shaft at the door They arranged her funeral three times but this was it sliding down the smallest street jelly on a plate jelly on a plate they’re making it a one way when you get to the little red cottage the moon lollops under the earth white under the arch the moon squeezes down the chimney they used it in a cowboy film that’s where Maureen O’Hara’s waving where the wagons and horses are ready one way keep going filling up with photos that lead to your open door it was never shut Tayto sandwiches we weren’t in our home allowed they loomed lovely on the tiniest screen of light chamber. Sit in the sun. Big sunglasses she said you go that way up the avenue and I’ll go under the arch I’ll wear a little crown jog across the tennis club that was always dark oh Dracula now don’t be scared the arch crosses the redest cottage it’s a lovely shape you’ll see the smallest red cottage that’s where they shot John Wayne Here I am waiting I am nervous


I am three times three pigs with kindling in their chunky arms cigarettes for 3p now don’t go in there watch make an arch with your arms the smallest red cottage is its own red cottage a small door its own red little bit of little red pigs making a fire in the hearth. And here’s the hearse pouring moonlight down the avenue.


Jessica Lawrence What’s right, or do I mean left, or wrong? Right now The world seems To be telling me In the worst possible way A vital message Sent by emojis From someone foreign And oblivious to the existence of my native And only familiar language I get the smell That they’re shouting Left is right But right is wrong to left And left is not wrong But wrong is right When the art teacher Is instructing you to turn left And the satnav only says right And your English teacher Just told you to write At the left But how do you get it right When left isn’t right But left isn’t always wrong And you must write left But end up right And write isn’t right And left is right


But right and wrong Don’t add up Because a plus and a minus Mean a take away But they scientifically attract So is right wrong left right or write?


Ari Vishin Lessons From Hebrew Class I wish I could tell you when I broke character; maybe at twelve when I asked in Jewish Studies class What do they say about gay people in the Torah? and all my classmates all kind of looked at me in that way that said they didn’t want to talk about the rainbow Star of David on the doorpost. Or any name. Like Matthew or Leelah or Bobby or Brandon. In the ‫ תסנכ תיב‬the safe in safe space is silent. Someday no one in the big wide world will care who I kiss but I’ve realized that maybe I want them to. I want to stop flinching when I say that word – that word, you know what I mean, the one I can’t say here – I want to go to a Lady Gaga concert, I want 5 vowels and 3 consonants to live in some boy’s mouth, spring out of his tongue like weeds. In Hebrew love is ‫ הבהא‬ah-ha-va and it comes from ‫ בה‬hav which means give me. I want all these things but I’m scared of what I’m asking for and I’m scared of wanting too much; maybe desire was my first mistake. I don’t know if God will love my boyfriend more if he’s Jewish but I think it’s worth a shot anyway. My first name starts with an ‫ א‬alef the letter carved into the golem that brought it to life; perhaps I will shape my boyfriend from clay in the same way, run my hands over the terracotta until ‫ םשה‬tells me I should keep it G-rated. A hundred fears I will keep in him and so far I have only thought of one.


AmÊlie Nixon ribbit requiem in my dreams i slip down your froat lik tadpols an frof up all your words. lemme dip webtoes in your eesofagus wanna feel th grimeswamp rippl wanna croak in th drip. wanna wade into your bellyhole wanna curl up in a ball an sleep. wanna plop insid your flesh my lov; metamorfic slumber. i’ll mak you whol.


Sarah Nazir love in the movies sometimes I’m afraid we’re just a little too good to be true a little too daydream-fantasy-come-to-life; a cheesy chick-flick with the quiet girl and the dreamy boy – every film critic’s worst nightmare and a film we’d never watch. sat in that coffee shop in Cambridge on that June morning, the air heavy with moisture and superficial comfort i bet we’re a sight to behold. outside, humid air shifts at the sigh of an infrequent wind, etches leaf-blown cursives into a world that seems to thirst for sickly sweet poetry. from this side of the glass the crowds are goldfish in a tank: shiny, slippery, volatile as they restlessly weave in and out of one another, their ruckus a pale sound against the rhythm of your easy breaths as you gently doze. I bet any good composer could make music out of you. in the real world, that burdensome air would render touch foreign, quietly from delicacy to prickly nuisance and yet my head rests perfectly in the crook of your neck, as if we were two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle finally in place. as is the common cliché, time seems to hang still long enough for me to memorise every fold of your knuckle as your hand sits languidly in mine, long enough for every particle of glowing air to settle in our seams, seemingly bind us together forever. I wait for the sound of the clapperboard or the director’s call or for you to stir and rise and exit, but it does not come. for now I'll settle for this daydream, mark it in place in my memory, forget to anticipate our imminent untangling, that graceless separation as the light hardens and everything becomes a little too real.


Thariny Suresh a face in the puddle rain forest captured calmly in oozing prerogatives juiced crowing leprechauns roasting almonds silver aye /////////////////////////// aye silver almonds roasting leprechauns crowing juiced prerogatives oozing in calmly captured forest rain


Emma Miao fortunes from a lost generation When I was six, I lived carefree, decorated with stardust and lavender. I lived in a world where gold stars meant success, and it was okay to Colour outside the lines. I took morning strolls with Dorothy and Toto through Oz, and watched Katniss compete in the Games. Most of all, I wanted to grow up. Wanted to Belong to something bigger than myself, Wanted to feel wind twirl my hair, and sunrays Dance across my skin in the driver's seat. I don’t know when I realized something was Wrong. It might have been in grade Four, when someone called me “Nerd” For the first time, or in grade Six, when My “friends” went to parties without me. It might have been when I witnessed White men pull out guns from under their Pillows and shoot their black neighbors, Or when I read about the sexual exploitation of seven year olds Forgotten by a system that chooses capital over life. It might have been when I saw my own parents Worrying about the bills as Donald Trump “Donates” billions to his own charities. Isolated By a system that discouraged us to talk About our feelings, we grew up thinking no One would ever love us. That we never Belonged. You know, there’s this rhyme about Sticks and stones, as if broken bones hurt more than being called “Chink.” or “Go back where you came from.” And through the catcalls, the exploitation, the racism — I grew up.


Play money became real. Hugs turned into sex. And life was supposed to be better now.


Nabeha Dhar Dear Mr Trump “Go home, Leave, You don’t belong.” You slur, You shout, Your words unclear As you sneer. Where do I go? Where do I belong? This home The only one I’ve ever known. You tell me to leave, That I don’t fit in, My skin’s too dark, My culture too strong. You hate what I am, What I may become, I stick out like a sore thumb. But I’m here to stay. Who are you to tell me to leave? This is my home, My land, My country, I may be different, but we’re all unique. “Unique” that’s what you call me, You don’t understand, Your vision, narrow, Your mind, closed.


We’re not that different: You and I, You colonised, I globalised. These borders, These walls. You stand against us, You stand away, But we are here to stay.


Joshua Wood Be Brave The endless deafening bangs of gunfire fill the air. I sit still with dread. Be brave, be brave I say to myself. Not believing the words at all. I feel trapped in this dark, sad world. Nowhere to find peace. Nowhere to escape. Be brave, be brave I say I say myself. I wish I believed these words were true. I smell the awful smoky filled air. I wait for the next gunfire to start. Be brave, be brave I say to myself. I wish I believed these words were true. I see the darkness with no light in sight. I feel so alone. Be brave, be brave I say to myself. As a single tear drops from my eye. The air feels hot and still as the enemy close in. A bang, a cry. My mate is down. Be brave, be brave I say to myself. As I rush to my best mates side.


I hold my mates as he lay in pain. Not speaking, not moving, his eyes slowly flickering. Be brave, be brave I say to myself. This war will be over soon.


Duy Quang Mai Diction (Diary): Autumn i remember my mother used to wake & try to figure out the geography of palms. what are bodies but sweat-pearled vessels? we both share the same skin-work, so i travel across flood-drains to translate sandstone leaves into meanings. knifed by the sun’s knuckles, slowly, like bloated tongues. in this version, the son maps road grids & lets his jaws etch into a blade • googled ‘autumn meaning’ in latin, it was autumnus, autumn us leaves as in the plural for ‘leave’? leaving? do i survive by letters now do i live to fall like a question answered so completely •


au tumn au t ừm another blue-moon translation in vietnamese it means ‘thu’, or literally as ‘gather’, like gathering leaves spilled into asphalt coffins. usually when i draw a tree into being never once is leaf an option. maybe things work this way. • there are people. a person is just a form of people a person is in people • i try to lift my sleeves & find tricks like how this season has been the symbol of a tin-canned afterlife • last sleep eyes enveloped into an essay if you are dead you’re dead but manholes are still the drains of bodies. men holing each other.


so funny i laugh to a punctuation then bury myself in the self-spilled salt • street-drains bulge like fisted pockets only tighter holding autumn, listen your children are your children until you die, so let them live grow yourself again grow emerald & soft-hued hum softly for me to learn six months from you as a half-year only two-quartered hum softly, when people forget you remember that spring parades & comes to garden its jasmine teeth •


once upon a time, people stop giving up on their person(s) (one who dries like earth-bitten leaves) • i read the fall heated in colours & years are just ovened till brown-baked so when i live i live softer skin-fuller meatier –


Dasiy Winstone Waiting


Eve Connor The Man in the Street The Man In The Street was fed up of being asked what he thought. Worst of all, the reporters weren’t even bothered about zebra crossings or ring roads. They didn’t care that tarmac is really a shorthand for tarmacadam; that God must have been in a strop after the whole Eden incident and cast out the Adam. Instead, they snuck upon him with their microphones and their cameras. They asked him about politics and poverty and pension funds until his head felt like Spaghetti Junction at rush hour and he couldn’t tell the difference between the M6 and the A38 Aston Expressway. So he decided to do something about it. The Man In The Street wrote a letter to the BBC, plucking a feather from a pigeon and collecting petrol from the leak of a battered Ford Fiesta. Quill; ink. Curled up in a pothole, he slaved for two nights and two days until the letter was complete. A passing cyclist promised to deliver it. “Gosh!” said the reporter when he finished. “Let’s ask the man in the street what he thinks.”


Sophie Thynne drowning in dementia that summer she traced his palmfingers drifting through planes of flesh and running through wrinkled rivers as he let his eyes fall idle in the sun. in her mind, they were sailing; rough waters do shake the darling buds of dismay but still, she rowed to the melody of his steady heart. sometimes she would fold his shirts to smooth out the waves of pain and then hang them over and over againwhite cotton sentenced to an endless execution and her eyes would leak seawater as she watched the massacre. they were sinking in the heat of June and she lost his eyes to the sun, a heated affair of forgotten dreams until her gold ring was a manacle binding her to the past. she painted their marriage to the side of the stern but the fish ate at her head and the picture remained unfinished. he came back to her and his weathered hands found hers- a light in the storm of nothing and in their confusion, they sailed west or did they? he held her hands and wondered if this was the touch of a lover or a mother as they sunk together. those cotton shirts were ruined in the salt


but she clung to the memory of the shopher cracked red lips and childish laugh as he pulled her further and further into oblivion. and in that moment, she made a promise as the seaweed sculpted her skin and made it frail, a promise to remember the tail of two young lovers out at seaa promise to remember for both of them. and she let go.


William An Mother I used to watch Denise cut Dad’s hair at the barbershop and then ask Mom why Denise couldn’t cut mine. I cut better, we save money. Her gossamer hands maneuvered garage sale clippers that got stuck in my hair while buzzing like lawnmower static. I once tried to tell her that Denise always put a paper towel around Dad’s neck so he didn’t get itchy. No, that is waste of paper! She never listened when I asked her to leave it longer. I knew the other kids would make fun of me— You look like a fēngzi, trashboy, like we bad parent. My head looked like an overstuffed soup dumpling with knots of uncooked dough, shaved and stripped of the only thing I was certain about – not my language, not my culture, not myself. These were all mysteries to me. When I twirled my fingers through my hair, everything would seem okay, until Mom yelled You go bald at 20 –


My first time at a barber: he was rough, heaving the clippers too close to my ears. In four minutes, I was done. My head felt bare even though my hair was longer than how Mom used to cut it. The wind seemed to hurt so much more as it swept past my scalp.


Adriana Aida Che Ismail Inheritance There are ghosts in my mother’s mirror. Every time I gaze within it I see someone that has died. It doesn’t change, even when she spreads lipstick straight from the bullet. Across the hallway, she will prepare for madrassah and act like she hasn’t cried into her onions, her sewing, her lavenders. In the laundry aisle of the supermarket. In the steam of a shower. I wonder how she will explain to the children something she will never understand. I watch us return to youthful fragility again. Only then do I learn what women become when there is nothing left to lose. Tonight, when she cuts her patterns gold charms will jangle around brown wrist, hollow, historied with the memory of lost bodies. Whispering, this earth was created from all that is feminine, and from us it will grow, grow, grow. I don’t know who she is convincing. I will stand in front of her dressing table, alarmed, at shrinking body and sprouting body. The reflection doesn’t change. And my wrist feels heavy already.


Eve Warden Mrs Blossom Mrs Blossom came back in a flurry of hailstones. They followed her into the house, and hid in corners tiny pearls of ice trying not to melt. Strange sparkle spilled from the playyyy Djdjdjdjdjdjddddddddddddddddddddd breeze that washed through the house in Djdjdjdjdjdjddddddddddddddddddddd Spoon thittled glass, sanggg and leather Boots drummed on the floorboards. Not Exactly the sounds of someone cooking.


Jayla Blaba Mother Don’t you dare look at your feet! Look me in the eyes, you’re gonna recognize who is the boss around here. You respect me even though I don't respect you. Don’t blow your breath at me or I'll drop you to the floor. When I beat you, don’t you dare let tears leave your eyes. Be strong even though I beat you till you’re broken. When I talk to you, listen or I squeeze out your every breath I’m gonna take till you have nothing left. Don’t cry to me, I'm not throwing you a pity party. GROW UP! Don’t whine to me about stress. What do you provide? YOUR LIFE ISN’T THAT HARD! I give you everything you need. A roof over your head, even though I keep you locked up like a prisoner. Food in your stomach even though I get upset when it’s eaten. Clothes on your back even though they are years old. Don’t talk because you have a slick tongue. SHUT UP JAYLA! Don’t you dare disrespect your stepfather even though he abuses me and disrespects you YOU’RE GONNA RESPECT HIM! Love me even though I hurt you Love me because I am your Mother.


Eve Lawson Dear Mother I remember my mother’s baking, The sweet smell of bread cooking in the oven and the way she used to sing along with the man on the radio. I thought that it would last forever, My childhood ease, and blessed naivety. But I was wrong. So much has passed since then, changed and gone wrong. Oh how I wish I could go back, to how things used to be. Dear Mother, Yesterday I watched my brother of war Go into battle and die. My best friend is bleeding on the barbed wire. My cousin is somewhere in no man’s land. He could be alive, or one of the many men, wheeled into the hospital with a wound on his head or shrapnel in his eyes. The worst of it is that those soldiers could be anyone and tomorrow I could join the ranks lined shoulder to shoulder in a communal muddy grave. Dear Mother


I know I should think myself lucky not to be dead, you know, But I am so far from home and so far from you. Today I killed a boy. I looked him in the eye and saw nothing of the man he was trying to be only the childhood he lost. I killed him mother. I killed him. So dear Mother as you pray for me in the church today, and wait for the newspaper, as you try to continue with your life, as if I never left, you should know, that I am not worthy of you tears because today I killed a boy. A boy, like me mother, he was a German. The enemy. But this was not his fight, he should have been in school, but instead he lies dead in a ditch just another number in the newspaper because of me. Tomorrow we advance again.


I might not come back mother, so I thought you should know how good you were to me.


Lucy Stone I have a lost saturn The knowledge of thinly veiled skin and contortion of the body. The knowledge of blood stretched too far and the skittish disquietude of waiting. The knowledge of thinking of sepultures and lamentation and cremation or burial? The knowledge of being too young to know the flavour death brings. The knowledge of picturing ruby red coagulums spilling out like foam insulation. The knowledge of knowing that everything is not alright in this world. The knowledge of the clock’s screaming, streaming hands still moving smoothly. The knowledge of things needing to stop, just stop, please, stop, desperate for some air and the feeling of nausea. The knowledge of waiting and waiting and needing to at least be in the hospital. The knowledge of salted water rolling down my cheeks like meagre precipitation. The knowledge of my German phrases not bringing things to resurrection. The knowledge of my fear of deficiency and my fear of torpidity and my fear of living without. The knowledge of truth and verity and the facts and figures crushing in nature.


The knowledge of my heart raising to new levels of exigency like it did back then. The knowledge of leaning over the ivory bowl, spilling out my contents like truthful phrases you whispered into my ears on a Sunday morning. The knowledge of things that might go wrong and how I don’t think I can live without. The knowledge of red stuttering roses blooming out of your mouth and pullulating me. The knowledge of despondency and inefficacy and the waiting. The endless waiting. The eternal waiting. The traumatic waiting. The uncertainty of you and the blistered and cracked time’s existence. The uncertainty of my love being projected onto a non-sentient figure. The uncertainty of ever allowing myself to feel ever again for anything. The uncertainty of neither red cheeks or red ears, instead, of red insides becoming outsides. The uncertainty of never tasting the freedom of sacrilege from endued, endured lips. The uncertainty of seeing a coffin, or a figure, or the things I fear most. The uncertainty of ever feeling your heart beat again.


Poppy Wallhead Are you angry yet? Are you angry yet? If not, why not? Are you still calm and collected? No issues detected, you’re just fine. Well I’m not. and I get it, of course I’m not Aren’t Gen Z all doom and gloom, or so you assume but so would you, if your future was tainted with the prospect of a tick, tick , ticking time bomb. Are you scared yet? You know they’re saying mass extinction by 2050? But in other news, isn’t that new Instagram feature nifty? Why are you not heated? Maybe they don’t care, actually maybe they do, look at the sad emojis they tweeted. Why don’t you care yet? My Gran says she ‘won’t be around by the time anything happens’ Well guess who will be? Please stop saying us alone can stop it, some of us won’t make the age to vote before effects are set in stone, and I know currently we’re like a dog with a bone, only because behind the carefree facade we’re just as scared as you are. We spend so much time cutting out plastic straws, But please don’t let big companies convince you it’s because you won’t take two minute showers, when behind closed doors they’re pumping out tons of plastic hour to hour.


Why aren’t you angry yet? Our future is not bulletproof, but neither is it set, please stop thinking it’s over, we can pull it around. Wake up, be angry and do something now.


Isabelle English Bobby My friend Bobby was a footballer; English You know, one of those friends that sticks forever; When we were younger, we would kick around together, But he was better than me, always better. And then, When we got a bit older, we would sit on the sidewalk, Drinking together. Whistling at the skirts flying past, But they never spoke to us, and we never asked. Then came the game. They always called him ‘Robert’ No more Bobby. No more together. Forever I thought it would last. But our age got us later, Some form of mid-life crisis brought each to the other. And Bobby was back. More kicking, more whistling, more drinking, It was just like the weather. Always changing, but still there. I met someone around then, a woman, let’s call her Heather. And I wed her, my sweet darling Heather. Bobby Would ask what went wrong. But it was right. No more whistling. No more drinking. No time for kicking Anymore. Heather was the task at hand, Heather, And our baby, Dan. Bobby would be angry. Bobby would ask “What went wrong?”. But it was right. Age caught us bitter, Storms brewed and apologies dithered, and withered. But soon, Bobby was back. “It was right,” Bobby would say, “And just because you and Heather are wed, There’s the baby Dan and not much money at hand. There’s the fun to remember. Snowmen in December, Motorbikes and the leather - miniskirts at eleven, Riding clouds ‘til our Mums found out.” Age continued, In its meanders and little tributes of sunlight and rain.


Until the rain, slowed. Memories stream ceased to flow. Droughts began across the land. And Bobby thoughts became... slow. He remembered the kicking, but not baby Dan. He remembered the drinking, but not the Mexican flan Heather brought him yesterday. Nor the movie we watched, Nor the money it had cost, for his birthday last week. It was hard. Bobby would sleep most the day. I would weep. As his speech began to slur, and the mental cogs whirred, It was hard. I would sit and wonder, what went wrong. The doctors, they said it was because of kicking in the team. Too many blows to the head, and too hard, it would seem. It’s hard. Bobby passed away, exactly a year ago, today. Dan's had one, since then. This baby, he called ‘Robert Brown’. And now every time I look at his face, when he cries, when he screams, I, somehow, keep good grace. Because, each time, I remember; The snowmen in December, the motorbikes and the leather, Miniskirts at eleven, riding clouds ‘til our Mums found out. That friend which sticks forever; not the dementia, Not the pretence or the offence when he forgot all our names, Not the anger and sorrow when he wouldn’t listen or play. I remember, Bobby. That friend which sticks forever.


Rowan Jessop Clones There are two paths on a winding road One is worn down, one is rough as a tree Everyone follows the flat one It’s like no one wants to be free We should be like flowers All different and bright Instead we’re like grass Just a boring plain sight They say beauty is Natural And nature is good So why do we change? ‘cause people say we should We get changed by our peers All those ads on TV show you what you should look like Instead of what you should be We can’t create clones But we’re very near Everyone tries to be the same Because they’re trapped by fear Fear to be different Fear to be bold People don’t stand a chance they listen to what they’re told So what my hair’s different? It’s how I was born There’s no merit In being blonde not tawn


We act like birds in the sky Or fish in the sea They say ‘you must be a clone’ I say ‘why can’t I be me?’


Kate Moore 9am conversations with God I think I sat down first; he was a little late, of course, / many things to attend to from the heavens. the café smelt of clouds and / an ethereal sugar smoke – right at home / for someone who pays angels in shillings and forgets the receipts. / my tongue was tied, double- / knotted into my shoelaces and binding me / to the ground. / not starstruck, more lightning-based in defeat. / but he met my uneasy gaze and offered a smile / with both hands, a simple peace offering / wrapped in white: I did not return a favour passed between so / many mortals that it may / as well be a bedsheet. it would belittle my own few years of existence, / the stub end of my matchstick life. I’m sure / at some point / he gave me answers but they all tasted chalky and I / found them chokingly stale. nothing is worse than / a reused sympathy. but I / thanked him for his time, paid the bill and laughed / as he emptied his wallet and found nothing more than a promise / with a “best before” predating my birth. sometimes I wonder / if he can be forgiven, or if he’ll just keep / cheating me. / I didn’t stay past 10am. it wasn’t worth my time. /


Nancy Gittus The Lady We Let Out at Tesco They call me Manky, I said, “It’s just a silly name.” At the end of class I shout “Wait for me.” But always in vain. They have places to be and clubs to do I tried to explain. But it doesn’t matter. Only that I have a group. I run with a pack, if you see what I mean. Not alone. That’s bad. Because when you' re alone who will watch your back? There was once a lady, fallen in the street. Sobbing in huge moans. We stopped the car and helped her in. We couldn’t leave her there. Like Pippi Longstocking in her coloured clothes. But we are tense. I sense my mother’s fear. Uncomfortable, afraid, we can’t wait to let her go again. To let her out at TESCO. There you have it the cruelty of the pack. Rejecting any who are different. Outcasts, exiled in a sense. No one wants to be their friend. You can’t unless you want your pack to turn on you too. So I stay, tucked away from it all. At the back of my pack. You don’t tell. No snitching, no telling tales. Doesn’t matter if you grass on someone they’ve never spoken to. You tell. You tell. You’re the enemy. You’re a snitcher. Not to be trusted. A name you will carry with you forever. They call me Manky, but that’s ok. As long as I run with a pack I’m ok.


Sarah Nachimson Obituary for Lost Girl I remember the summer where we were in the 7-Eleven parking lot and we challenged ourselves to grow slimmer and slimmer, so that scab faced boys would follow us like faithful fans, and our school friends would admire us from afar. Ellie weighed 8 knapsacks at the beginning and I 12. We would run around the courtyard sprinting within the fences like fish in a bowl. Ellie bragged to me, showed me her newly hollowed shell, how I could brush upon her poking out scapula and touch each rib like a musical instrument. She thought she herself was a new treasure, and I did too. I wanted to fade as fast as her. I wanted her husk of a body and her slim


figure that the boys stared at a bit too long. I wanted to go on a nude beach in Greece and be the gladdest, most untouchable thing there. At the end, we weighed ourselves again. I was only 3 knapsacks and Ellie was a ghost.


Aziza Adam When My Grandmother was Five When my grandmother was five, in 1989 The sky was as blue as could be Doves were white, pigeons were grey To the heavens we’d look up at in glee One day the sky wasn’t so blue anymore Nor was the Sun shining as bright any longer How could we let this happen I pondered? Humans are to blame, yet they feel no shame As to why the teal skies left after time Like a child who knows not what they’ve done wrong And think that everything is fine When in reality, everyone else suffers due to their innocent games Big, beautiful and blue, like the ocean I’ve heard so much about Without a doubt, humanity’s finest trait All gone to waste because of waste, in haste To make life more convenient, the laws of nature became more lenient ‘til the final fickle straw broke the back of the silent camel Its 2095. There are no more sapphire skies Nor is there an ocean of aquamarine Instead it’s canals of coffee and seas of subtle brown Workers like me will never know, what it’s like to feel the crunch of snow Workers like me live in a post-apocalyptic enclosure, with third degree burns due to sun exposure Workers like me don’t live for very long, very few of us age to raise our young That’s why I’m a prisoner. I was selfish and called upon the stork Without thinking about the chick, that would have to live through the very same hell that I did


I just wanted something that was a bit more natural, but it’s against the laws of our land To continue our generation would be a moral crime and cause even more anguish and fire And it would only inspire: fear. I wish I saw the vast oceans my mother did, but I don’t have the means to do so I wish I saw the trees of green my mother did the shrubs today are so-so I wish I could see the blue skies my mother did because it hits so close to home To see clouds of dark dust shelter the scarlet sky we’ve become accustomed to One day my daughter will look up, pleading with the heavens above her, To let her not be the last human to die But instead of the yellow glow of the sun shining above her She’ll be bargaining with crimson skies.


Sam Carrick My Mum has No Ears My mum has no ears. The first-time people notice their mouths drop. They look away and argue that it wasn’t obvious; “You’d never know if you weren’t told,” as if A sign should be attached to her forehead. ‘BEWARE! No ears here.’ My mum has no ears And when we go out, I have to grow a second pair. Compensation for the lack of hearing over here. She exists in a bubble so I ground her and guide her through the world of sound Sharing the info with her in our own sacred language. People watch this as if I have a second head, And in some ways, I do. My mum has no ears But people still whisper about it. Her voice is loud, but She’d never know. After all, it doesn’t make sense To talk quietly with no ears. My mum has no ears but she has more heart than anyone I've ever met. My mum has no ears but she's the bravest woman on this planet. My mum has no ears but she has a brain to marvel at. My mum has no ears but she's still a human being.


Jacob Heagney Lies About the Sea The sea level is gradually rising due to the fact that more swimmers are getting trapped within its eerie depths. In winter, the sea is temporarily closed which is why demand for air travel rises around Christmas time. The sea is famous for being the least successful nation of the Olympic Games as triathletes prefer the fresh water. Submarines are sent down to warm the sea up when the temperature is not quite to the surfer’s fancy.


Olivia Petris The Kill Tree Follow the river south, down past the bend and through the waist-high weeds. Follow the tiger’s footprints and the antler-shredded trees. Wander until you reach the Kill Tree. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it. You’ll find boxes of childhood toys and chests of broken china. Find the overgrown path and ignore the leaves burned by fire. Soon you’ll find the keeper of the Kill Tree. He’ll be there: The golden skinned boy with dead leaves for hair. His shirt will be ragged (it always is) And his smile will be more genuine, than a banker’s grin. Don’t touch his crown of thorns. Don’t touch his skin. Don’t let your hands wander over the dimple on his chin. Don’t mistake his thorns for fingers and link your hand in his, sweet pea.


It will come away scarred, because you touched the Kill Tree. Instead, follow the river north, up past the bend and through the ankle-high weeds. Follow your own footprints back, And a toss a match into the roots of that tree. Do not blame the boy; The Kill Tree trapped him as much as you. But do not run back into the blaze to try and save him, too. Let the grass turn to black. Leave the smell of smoke behind you. So that next time you find an acorn or nut, You remember that the Kill Tree almost killed you.


Emilia Brooks The Water is Rising She wakes to find herself but on a boat having slept away the last few years. She looks around and pushes herself up with no comfort in the slippery deck. She looks at her hands, they are wet with dew, she wipes them on her trouser until they feel new. Her glance at the boat reveals it’s two sizes of her along and across but she’s alone on it now. She looks over the edge, there is blue murk around and around which is scraping the paint off the side. Well she never liked the colour green anyway. She carries on. She will solve it another day. The blue murk used to be crystal like glass, now it gloops plastically, full to the brim, it erodes the green paint, she can see it but she leaves it be and laughs, who cares? There’s no green left anywhere, only blue now, blue water, that murk. oh, and grey clouds. The boat puffs sinister clouds from the back that join the grey darkening air around, it contrasts to the lap lap of the lake but it’s not even blue, it’s just a mess. There is such little movement in the boat. Little caring, it keeps barely afloat. There used to be more trees, standing tall, standing proud, like natural green pylons from the wise, soft ground but now the surroundings are flat, stripped from the bone she has a perfect view of the mess created,


just the deposited hills of Throw-Away Land stand and lead down to the empty beach of black sand. She would like a little company but no, the others have gone too. The chimpanzees were evicted, the elephants were stolen from, the polar bears just disappeared. The Boat, her world, feels incomplete, weird. She had vague remembrances of Before Boat; driving down a road and picking up a coffee, leaving the cup on a pavement when done to decompose, showering for an hour lights full blast, buying the cheapest, throwing rubbish away, don’t look or check – the most simple, easiest way. She couldn’t have made a small difference. If you close your eyes as a car drives towards you, it will disappear. Just like the polar bears. But now she’s in a boat. The Boat; a small world. And she’s alone. And she doesn’t know what to do. Well, she once did, but in the end she chose not to. The water is rising. She never really care for green but now it’s grey. And that’s even worse.


SinÊad O’Reilly The envelopes If my memories wrote back to me They'd come in brown envelopes. Some would be sealed with flimsy glue That comes apart at inconvenient times; The sink into the earth moments. Some would be gilt-edged, Stamped with pride and achievement, But nothing compared to the cartoons Decorating the envelopes from my sister. Some would be folded, not sealed, Dotted with paw prints, corners chewed off. And maybe the letters of regret Would come with a return address.


Ahana Banerji Sapphic Ode to Aphrodite Olive skin, burning beneath the colonnade; sun dew seasons her eyelashes as she falls for honey-sugar Aphrodite, all curves and hot ash-stung tongues. Apricot flesh trickles in a bee-sonnet down her chin, until it kisses her petals and innocence – like a late bougainvillea – ripens to the touch. Marble suffragette, how virginal you are; smoke yet to choke the naivety of your sex. Come, let her cradle the folds where love once stood, and amputate the salt of your womanhood.


Xinyue Jenny Jiang my City and I we meet like a pair of old lovers, my city and I. ni qu na er le? the streetlights are saying (where have you been?) in the morse code I memorised at seven. wei shen me zhe me jiu dou bu hui lai? (why have you been gone so long?) so much has changed since you’ve been gone. I know, I know, my love, I answer as I watch the taxis drive past on the boulevard. and I asked you to wait for me, all those years ago. wo deng le, she says. (I waited) I waited through all the mian-ao winters and the bing-qi-ling summers and the zhong-qiu-jie autumns. wo ye deng le, I say. (I waited too) I waited for all those foreign-dollar paychecks and that single one o’clock morning flight back home. Home, she says. wo xiang ni le, lao tou (I missed you, old man) Even with the white winter beard. wo ye xiang ni le, I tell her. wo men qu shui jiao ba; wo yao da shi cha. (let’s go to bed; I need to sleep off the jetlag.)


Aimee Hartley That Little Voice You know the little voice in your head That makes the writing on a page Go REALLY LOUD Or really quiet? Or perhaps it’s making the words seem Really long Or maybe really short How does it do this? When you open a book An explosion of words fills your eyes But this little voice sorts them into sense And forms the stories we all know and love. This little voice can whisk you away To imaginary (or very real) worlds Taking us on adventures That we can only dream about. Authors and poets alike write a new language The little voice translates. Love, hate, betrayal This voice knows it all. When you need to escape reality This little voice becomes your best friend It takes your hand and leads you Down the path of imagination. 113

Elise Withey a song for Josie sing a song for Josie, dear, sing through the fields, as the long grass tickles your legs, and the wildflowers peek out from the hedgerows. sing as you pluck their blushing heads and twist them into fairy wreaths, braided crowns jewelled with petals. sing a song for Josie, dear, when summer sprawls lazily across the fields, trailing his fingers in the brooks until they run diamond-clear. when the clouds chase each other through the sky until it lies blue and empty of all but dreams. sing a song for Josie, dear, when the fields knit together, Frankenstein-like, a broken patchwork of colours, veined with trickling streams. sing as you wander, and pick all the flowers you wish, but leave one for Josie. sing a song for Josie, dear, sing when you raise your voice with the birds in a tumbling melody, and sing when the trees join in too, groaning with sombre song in their deep baritones until the very ground trembles with music. and make a wish for Josie, dear, when the sky is a ripening bruise, and long purpling shadows stretch across the fields. wish when you lie in the shivering grass, the crickets humming with you in a ghostly choir, watching the sky fill with stars. yes, sing a song for Josie, dear,


for she cannot sing anymore. her pillow is the soft petals of the wildflowers, her blanket the dew-beaded grass. lay your flowers on her grave and crown her sleeping head with fairy wreaths. sing a song for Josie, dear, and listen if she replies.


Nizara Ziaudeen Post Script ‘Sometimes the people who have chapters about them in your book, have only a footnote about you in theirs’. – Anonymous Her book: MY LIFE Contents My son, my life ..............................................................................1 What was my life before him ........................................................12 My life was but dreams and wishes before him ............................15 Then he came ..............................................................................19 The actualisation of my hopes ......................................................21 Defeater of my nightmares............................................................32 Without him, I was a shell of a woman ........................................87 Motherhood became me ..............................................................90 My son, my dream......................................................................100 My son, my realisation................................................................190 I love my son ..............................................................................200 In this world ..............................................................................230 And in every other ......................................................................400 HIS BOOK: MY LIFE Post Script Special thanks to: My friends, my wife, my mother.


Ali Nyirenda Hide and go seek I once left my mother In a supermarket and ran to Hide behind our car and told her telepathically To come seek me. I guess telepathy doesn’t work Because I stood there for one, two...twenty...twenty? Fingers and toes of time, I think. Sorry, twenty was the highest number I knew So everything long took twenty Just imagine twenty was the time school took Twenty was time father took to sober up Twenty was the length of a night and a half day. So imagine a boy waiting that long. So I walked back in to tell her that I had won And that the game was over but to my surprise. I found her still counting in the corner Covering her eyes. Screaming the wettest numbers I had ever seen her scream, I think So I walked right over and patted her shoulder To boast of my victory To only receive a red eyed peek-a-boo And teeter-totter slap Then we both crouched in the corner, Learning new wet numbers.


Heather Hughes The Rope Swings At the top of the nameless hill, To the hooded tree where the same crow perches, The girl comes every day. So right until the sun’s lamp fades, This girl plays so she can forget, Whilst the branches moan. She fixes her gaze ahead Over the grass. She watches her father hang out, His feet swinging impatiently. The game he had begged her to finish. For now the girl must continue at The rope swings in the wind. The rope swings in the wind. For now the girl must continue at The game he had begged her to finish, His feet swinging impatiently. She watches her father hang, out Over the grass. She fixes her gaze ahead Whilst the branches moan. This girl plays so she can forget. So right until the sun’s lamp fades, The girl comes every day To the hooded tree where the same crow perches, At the top of the nameless hill.


Kai Jardine Transgender Life Looking back on pictures I find it had to see Myself in places Where I used to be Long hair tied Away from my eyes A curvy figure leading To shapely thighs Boys can wear pink Girls can wear blue The reaction Is up to you Why can’t people Just let them be them Let boys be girls Let girls be men I want to sympathise I want to cry This body I’m in Feeling like I have to hide I am a boy so don’t call me she I’m not your sister Or your niece My pronoun is quite clearly HE


Mia Cassidy Growing up with a Father not a Dad Growing up with a father but not a dad You learn to except what you have and... Roll with the punches... Growing up with a father but not a dad There reason he’s like this is no ones fault but his own... but you always feel like a burden...unwanted....and afraid.... Growing up with a father but not a dad Your mind and soul are now his to control and poison how he wishes Growing up with a father but not a dad Scared of what could happen and who he will be today.... a different person who would treat you differently is what you would hope but that’s not what's going to happen however much I pray turned away from God because no miraculous came Growing up with a father but not a dad Now that he’s gone you are left to pick up the pieces As you... shout... and scream... and ... blame yourself... For the way he behaves and treats you then has the guts to stand up in that court inocent and play it that he’s the victim Growing up with a father but not a dad But of course you still love him... even though...everytime you think of yourself. you hate your self, because you are half of him, of his own skin and blood, how could he destroy you how could he destroy half of himself Growing up with a father but not a dad Lies have become normal conversation you don't know how to open up and trust and when you do it’s the wrong people... trapped in an ever going cycle... You find the sadness in every situation but at the same time you become a better person for it all...


Growing up with a father but not a dad After months of him gone you slowly start to gain closure the closure that you needed to move on not forgive not forget but move on Growing up with a father but not a dad


Arna Kar What an Astronaut has for Tea Have you ever asked yourself “What does an astronaut have for tea?”, The answer is quite simple But it’s really out of the ordinary. They start off with celestial coffee or a lunar latte and Crate crackers And if the aliens in space are really pleased Astronauts get a tank Of Plutonian moon cheese Constellation cake with whirly whipped cream Milky way cappuccinos and galaxy gum Sun-star cookies and shooting star popping candy With all the sweets the universe has seen Then to finish off astronauts have Earth Bars (Mars Bars and Earth Bars got missed up at birth) The astronauts then wash everything down with star Gazing tea Better than any meal on Earth They eat rocket leaves (Which is much tastier than bubble gum) Then they return to Earth Where the food isn’t so yummy and fun!


Jacob Keneson Fire in Alexandria But the library’s on fire Alexandria ablaze So crowd the funeral pyre In illuminated craze And on the streets of London All the people want to know From high to deep down under How the fires heave and flow The man in the suit and tie Says it was doomed to be and old And the man in the suit and tie never lies And we do what we’re told The plague-bell rings into the night In the dreams of the innocent child Ringing above the mud and shite And the lunatics gone wild The doors of the library stand Ancient, wide and open Until the flames consume the land Leaving it scarred and broken


Ella Stanton Something old, new, borrowed, blue My bestest friend, your wedding present: 4 haikus – Aren’t you so lucky. I give you my vow; age 6 pinky swears still stand – ‘best friends forever.’ I give you memories; From tree hanging to hanging, the best ones await. I give you my heart; used and borrowed by many – meant only for you. I give you the sky; your own beautiful freedom within this chaos. I will blame myself, always, for not telling you that I *chokes* love you. You will not see these, ever, I hope – well – no. No. That would be selfish.


You are happy now. You are very, very happy now. You are happy now. I must stop writing. Words can be torture at times. But they heal, all times. 4 haikus, how silly. I am no Shakespeare. I am a bruised soul in love. Maybe that’s enough.


Charlotte Mills 1 in 1000 1 in 1000 babies will be born like me, will wobble their first steps years too late (or not at all), and move with all the ungainly grace of an infant giraffe. 1 in 1000 will puzzle over the many mysteries of this statistical lottery: of shoelaces and time-telling, eyes and ears, motor-cortex and spine, left-handedness and maths. 1 in 1000 children will feel the hysteria of thoughtless rejection and the never-ending spotlight of a conspicuous body, will strike a pose and flinch away in the same breath. 1 in 1000 will, most likely, feel the weight of anaesthesia, like a too-heavy blanket of sleep, and the strange glide of chipped fingernails over new scar tissue. 1 in 1000 will feel the freedom of the sidelines, one step removed from the melee of conventional beauty, too spoiled for the meat-market, invisible and free. 1 in 1000 will, all the same, feel the smothering embrace of pain, a third lover, pushing them back into the mattress as they are consumed by spasms of ecstasy and agony all at once. 1 in 1000 will be born and live and die within a brain whose damage is a thumbprint of their soul, a thing of beauty, in itself.


Ella Saville The Magic Box I will put in the box... The gentlest wave made by the underwater god, Stone from the oldest pyramid And the biggest book in the world. I will put in the box... A giant with crystal clothes, A diamond glistening from the deepest cave, A baby tree just sprouting. I will put in the box... The 13th lost month and a purple moon. A flying dog with wings, A spotty tree with orange leaves. My box is fashioned from the finest gold. The clearest ice, Silk ribbon. Rubies sit on top of the lid And jokes in corners, Hinges made from shark’s teeth. I shall live in my box In the greenest countryside of France, Then travel on to a peaceful beach The colour of a daffodil. 127

Anjali Mulcock Birthing a tongue Plucked/ from chrysalis, she splits like a fruit, peels outwards. Pushes her insides / out. Stamped red as an eyelid. Doctor’s fingers dripping scarlet, stripping chunks from stone in abandon. Her body curved, spine shivering, welded to the slick black. Juicy pulp over the emerging agate baldness/ a crown of blood nestled amongst the gaping silence. A prophetic eye blinks once. Translucent hoary membrane wrinkled like the skin of old milk Pulses/ and bursts. A fat lisping tongue peeks between two slabbed lips and slithers out into her arms. She cradles it to her chest lovingly, brings it to her open mouth. Only then does a sound dribble/ Out. 128

Takes a/ bite/ into the globular softnessScreams in wild delight. That flesh, her flesh: the sweetest goddamn thing she’s ever tasted. Oh, music! That voice, her voice: the sweetest goddamn thing she’s ever heard.


Sophie White The Girl by the Window THERE'S a girl by the window. She’s looking at me. There’s a world through that window, It’s all that she sees. She is careful and cautious, Like a whisper in the breeze. She is fragile and pale And she’s scared of what she sees. There’s a ghost by the window, And she hasn’t got a smile. She dances in the moonlight Then she pauses for a while. The girl by the window; Suddenly she’s gone. She speaks in a whisper And she doesn’t belong. There’s darkness in the window. No one to see. There’s nothing by the window, No smile directed at me.


A MAN came down to the fountain this evening. He didn’t speak at all. He just sat there in silence, Staring at the wall. The man came down to the fountain again, He saw me looking so I glanced away. He keeps coming back to the fountain, Every single day. The shadows danced in the wind last night. I followed them in a trance. The man who comes to the fountain, He likes to watch me dance. I smiled at the man this evening, He didn’t look at me. He didn’t come back again; There’s nothing left to see. I never saw the man again. He never came to me. I find it strange, now I’m gone, When before I used to be. THERE'S no one in that house, they say The house across the street. It’s empty with no occupants. A place where strangers meet.


But there’s a face inside a window. It overlooks the park. I see the face in daylight And also when it’s dark. She’s there in the morning, And she’s always there at night. Sometimes she lurks in the shadows But she often in the light. She sings and she dances, And she plays like she is free. Yet she dances along with the shadows And shies from what she sees. A man watched from the fountain. They know each other not. And when she stopped being there, I think that he forgot. THE adults cannot see us, The spirits; they cannot stay. We anticipate each moment, Waiting for the day. We watch the humans talk, We dance among the ghosts, But we cannot join in, For we are only hosts.


The children run and hide from us. They never want to play. But even when they greet us, They are often led away. The departed always dance with us But they will just move on, As they are only memories. Forever, they are gone. The dead are always moving. They come to us each year. When they leave, regretfully, We cannot shed a tear.


Meredith LeMaÎtre Turquoise Love I find the papaya of you on the street corner, jacket split open to reveal bare-breasted flesh. You’ve wrapped yourself around the neck of the beer bottle for too long, around the next cheque and the soft buttoned Nokia. There are thick smears of smudged crimson on your lips, your eyes singing turquoise love. You, slumped in the smokers outside the rundown club, begging the moon for forgiveness, grease-laden fried chicken and someone to love, lighter illuminating your face like a votive statue, and I want to worship, worship your broken in teeth, the pomegranate straps of your heels, the strings of your hair, the tears weaving down painted cheeks. You are living but barely, blowing smoke to the heavens, to the stars, to a higher deity.


Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2019

Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2019 The winners: Amy Saunders • Annie Davison • Cia Mangat • Dana Collins Em Power • Helen Woods • Jean Klurfeld • Lauren Hollingsworth-Smith • Libby Russell • Lydia Wei • Nadia Lines • Suzanne Antelme • Talulah Quinto • Thomas Frost • Trinity Robinson •

The commended poets: Abhilipsa Sahoo • Adriana Aida Che Ismail • Ahana Banerji • Aimee Hartley • Ali Nyirenda • Amelia Clark • Amélie Nixon • Anjali Mulcock • Anna Gilmore Heezen • Anne Kwok • Anya Trofimova • Ari Vishin • Arna Kar • Aziza Adam • Callum Roberts • Charlotte Mills • Corina Robinson • Cosima Deetman • Daisy Winstone • Daniel Chen • Duy Quang Mai • Elise Withey • Elizabeth Thatcher • Ella Saville • Ella Stanton • Emilia Brooks • Emma Miao • Eryn Lee • Esin Aynal • Esther Kim • Eve Connor • Eve Lawson • Eve Warden • Evelyn Byrne • Hannah George • Heather Hughes • Ifeoluwa Olatona • Isabella Cho • Isabelle English • Ishika Jha • Jacob Heagney • Jacob Keneson • Jayla Blaba • Jessica Lawrence • Jimin Lee • Joshua Wood • Kai Jardine • Kate Moore • Katie Kirkpatrick • Khushi Daryani • Kitty Robinson • Lucy Gardner • Lucy Stone • Martha Iris Blue • Meena Rakasi • Meredith LeMaître • Mia Cassidy • Nabeha Dhar • Nancy Gittus • Neha Agrawal • Nizara Ziaudeen • Olivia Petris • Pacey Holloway • Ploy Techawatanasuk • Plum Hector-Taylor • Poppy Wallhead • Rain Wang • Reda Ziani • Rian Paton • Rowan Jessop • Sam Carrick • Samyukta Iyer • Sandra Chen • Santiago McDonnell Grundy • Sarah Nachimson • Sarah Nazir • Sarah Yang • Shaw Worth • Sinéad O’Reilly • Sophie Thynne • Sophie White • Thariny Suresh • William An • Xinyue Jenny Jiang • Zannamarie Ashton

Read the winning and commended poems online The online anthologies of winning and commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2019 are available at


The Poetry Society The Poetry Society is the leading poetry organisation in the UK. For over 100 years we’ve been a lively and passionate source of energy and ideas, opening up and promoting poetry to an ever-growing community of people. We run acclaimed international poetry competitions for adults and young people and publish The Poetry Review, one of the most influential poetry magazines in the English-speaking world. With innovative education and commissioning programmes, and a packed calendar of performances and readings, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is at the core of The Poetry Society’s extensive education programme, and it plays an influential role in shaping contemporary British poetry. During 2019, former winner Jay Bernard’s debut collection Surge (Chatto & Windus) was shortlisted for a Forward Prize for Best First Collection, a Costa Book Award (co-judged by fellow Foyle Young Poet Jade Cuttle) and the T.S. Eliot Prize. Amongst former commended and winning poets, Eloise Unerman became the Barnsley Poet Laureate, following former Foyle judge Ian McMillan; Mathilda Armiger won first prize in the University of Hertfordshire poetry prize (an adult prize) at the age of 18; and Mukahang Limbu won both the Page category in the 2019 Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry and the overall competition.

Help young writers thrive The Poetry Society’s work with young people and schools across the UK changes the lives of readers, writers and performers of poetry, developing confidence and literacy skills, encouraging self-expression and opening up new life opportunities. Support us by donating at


The Foyle Foundation The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant making trust supporting UK charities which, since its formation in 2001, has become a major funder of the Arts and Learning. The Foyle Foundation has invested in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award since 2001, one of its longest partnerships. During this time it has trebled its support and enabled the competition to develop and grow to become one of the premier literary awards in the country.

Young writers and The Poetry Society As well as the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, The Poetry Society offers lots of other opportunities for young poets interested in writing for the page or exploring spoken word: Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. It’s for everyone interested in poets and poetry – whether you’ve just started out, or you’re a seasoned poetry reader and writer. You’ll find features, challenges and competitions to inspire your own writing, as well as new writing from young poets, and advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry scene. We partner with amazing organisations, from the National Maritime Museum and the V&A, to the British Library and Oxfam, sparking ideas that travel far beyond the page. For updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @youngpoetsnet Poetry Society Youth Membership is for aspiring writers and poetry enthusiasts aged 11-18. Members receive poetry goodies, discounts towards opportunities for feedback, The Poetry Society’s newspaper Poetry News, and other benefits.


Schools and The Poetry Society Foyle Award teaching resources, including lesson plans and online versions of the winning and commended Foyle Young Poets anthologies, are available on our website at Poetryclass lesson plans and activities, covering all Key Stages and exploring many themes and forms of poetry, are easy to search and free to download. Each resource has been created by our team of poeteducators and teachers, with hands-on experience of developing an enthusiasm for poetry in the classroom. Find Poetryclass on our dedicated site: Page Fright is an online resource, bringing historical poetry to life with contemporary spoken word performances. Page Fright poets such as Benjamin Zephaniah perform their own work, and explore historical poems afresh. Resources and writing prompts help you create your own poetry. Poets in Schools help develop an understanding of and enthusiasm for poetry across all Key Stages. Whether you want a one-off workshop or a long-term residency, an INSET session for staff or a poet-led assembly, The Poetry Society can find the right poet for you. School Membership connects your school with all that poetry has to offer. School members receive books, resources, posters, Poetry News and The Poetry Review (secondary only), as well as free access to our Poets in Schools service. Follow us on Twitter @PoetryEducation or sign up to our schools e-bulletin by emailing 139

In Spring 2020, The Poetry Society will publish its new compendium of resources for secondary school teachers – Poetry Class – to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year competition. The resource includes contributions from a diverse group of poets including Sinéad Morrissey, Caleb Parkin, Hannah Lowe, Caroline Bird, Kate Clanchy, Jasmine Simms, Joelle Taylor, Daljit Nagra and Malika Booker as well as pieces from Foyle Young Poets and teachers. The judges of the 2020 competition – Maura Dooley and Keith Jarrett – are also among the contributors. Poetry Class presents lively articles to inspire the teaching of poetry, quick practical ideas to complement teaching in different settings – the classroom, assembly, after-school – and extended lesson plans. All the contributors have responded to issues that most concern young people, such as national and personal identity, mental health, climate change and education itself. Teachers will find a range of ideas to share poetry and creative writing in ways that relates directly to their students. Our Poetry Class resource book for secondary schools is FREE. Email to find out how to get your copy.


L to r: Daljit Nagra (photo: Sara Lee); Caroline Bird (photo: Hannah Edy); Malika Booker (photo: Hayley Madden for The Poetry Society); Kate Clanchy; Caleb Parkin (photo: Paul Samuel White).

Poetry Class – inspiring young writers in secondary schools: a reader for teachers

Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020 Judges: Maura Dooley and Keith Jarrett Enter your poems – change your life! The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020 is open to any writer aged 11 to 17 (inclusive) until the closing date of 31 July 2020. The competition is completely free to enter and poems can be on any theme or subject. Individuals can enter more than one poem, but please concentrate on drafting and redrafting your poems – quality is more important than quantity! Entries cannot be returned so please keep copies. Prizes include poetry goodies, mentoring, places on a week-long residential writing course at an Arvon Centre, publication in a prestigious anthology, and much more. Winners also benefit from ongoing support and encouragement from The Poetry Society via publication, performance and internship opportunities. How to enter: please read the updated competition rules, published in full at You can send us your poems online through our website, or by post. If you are aged 11-12 you will need permission from a parent or guardian to enter. For more information, visit the rules section at School entries: teachers can enter sets of poems by post or online using our simple submission form. Every school that enters 25 students or more will receive a £50 discount on our Poets in Schools service! Want a FREE set of anthologies, resources and posters for your class? Email your name, address and request to For full rules and instructions, visit


Access and the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2020 This anthology and our entry forms are available in a range of accessible formats. If you require this anthology, or any information about the competition, in an alternative format, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Do you have an inspiring teacher? Tell us about them We want to connect with brilliant teachers who care as much about poetry as we do, so we can continue to reach young poets like you. If your teacher inspired you to write or read poetry, and you think we should know about them, let us know by emailing the following to We’d like to know your teacher’s name and the name of your school, with a sentence or two about what inspires you about your teacher. Every nomination we receive will be entered into our free draw to win £50 of poetry books and posters.


Now YOU can be part of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award Send us your poems by 31 July 2020 and next year YOUR work could be read by thousands of people all over the world in an anthology like this one. Enter online for free at Remember, you must be aged 11-17 years old on the closing date of 31 July 2020. Good luck – we can’t wait to read your poems!

“There are no borders or boundaries to cross in the world of poetry and no one need carry a passport to get in.” – Raymond Antrobus & Jackie Kay, Judges, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2019

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