Power, Protest & Poetry was a series of free, online literature events held in March and April 2021, as part of BBC Arts’ Novels That Shaped Our World festival, and presented in partnership by Words of Colour and Bristol Libraries. The online events included three creative writing workshops, a book prize giveaway, and a closing event with acclaimed poet Muneera Pilgrim and special guests.
To conclude Power, Protest & Poetry, Words of Colour and Bristol Libraries are delighted to showcase the poetry created by workshop attendees in the Power, Protest & Poetry series. These workshops were facilitated by internationally acclaimed poet, cultural producer, writer, broadcaster and TEDx speaker, Muneera Pilgrim.
Presenting poetry by Subitha Baghirathan, Omair Nayyar, Grace Adeyemi and Lumina Kemp.
From left to right: Lumina Kemp, Omair Nayyar, Subitha Baghirathan, and Grace Adeyemi.
Car Accident, Sulawesi, 1979
Disorientation mixed with wonder.
The road disappeared in an instant
A river magicked itself below the jeep wheels.
Cries and screams from a grown-up
Conjuring up the end of the world.
I smelled malevolent mud
I tasted grains of bitterness between teeth and gums
I heard urgent voices
I felt my body empty itself.
With swift, sinewy bare arms
Sarongs tucked up between thighs
Toes knowingly gripping into the slick sides of the river basin.
Relief murmured by the crowd
Amassed under the monsoon rain, up on the darkly green bank
Releasing my tears
Returning me to myself.
I wake as a disciple
Follower of the Dharma.
The house silent; family sleeps
With one-pointed mind, I merge with meditation cushion.
On rising, I work as a domestic
Completing tasks my grandmothers employed staff for.
Hanging out wet laundry, preparing food, readying the house.
Damming the stream of peevishness
Diverting the flow towards kindly tolerance.
A few precious minutes more in my silent shrine
I worship as a devotee of words.
A coffee smoulders on the desk
The aroma a more treasured offering than incense
A poem silkily absorbed through eyes and ears.
Pacified by caffeine, charged by poetry
I care as a mother
Hearing piano scales of feet on the stairs.
Grace Adeyemi & Omair Nayyar
Everything Wants To Be Loved
The opened books on the shelf
Every sight wants to be heard
The walls of the home want to be turned open and loved
The ceiling wants to be cradled too
Every fear wants to be seen
The light bulb blinking to be changed and loved
The floors too curl into the toes weeping for love
There Is No Handbook
belonging outside classrooms
unlearning taste as an adult
of growing up on white spines
beauty mind oppressors
policing natural textures
bottling black features
some just learn along the way
wear of a work laugh
prayer a new hairstyle
scent test home packed lunch
lemon coffee with people who smile when I see you I don’t see colour
bearing loss of data in BAME
searing watching death
curling when tongues sling thank God UK not as racist
raising the question
how to heal an ailment people protect
Lumina Natalie Kemp
“This first one is the acrostic poem in which we were prompted to find a text, locate the second word and use the first letter of the next eight words beneath that. I flipped through my notebook of inspiring thoughts/quotes/stories and landed on the Desiderata (by Max Ehrmann).”
Turning around in spirals, ever growing
Growing wise and understanding less
Yoking trauma into meaning
Drying tears, harboured fears
Leaning on stillness
You wind away
Fumble and falter
You catch yourself, back at the start
Everything Wants to Be Loved
Everything wants to be loved
To be absorbed in its fullness without trepidation or caution
Loved for its flaws and its failings
Its texture and its temperature
Its bulk and its heft
Loved for its efforts and its fears
Hoping you’ll open your arms and hold it
Let it howl and squeal
Let it crumble
Trembling under the weight of the pressure of perfection
Wanting to be loved for its anger
Wanting to be loved for its hope
Wanting so desperately to be accepted in its struggle to express itself