Power, Protest & Poetry: The Workshop Poets

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.

A woman looks into the camera. She has dark hair and wears a necklace. Behind her is a pale background and plants.A man looks into the camera. He wears a blue beanie hat, glasses and a brown jacket. Behind him are trees.A woman sits on a blanket and writes in a notebook. She is outside, surrounded by grass and trees.A young black woman looks into the camera. She smiles. Her hand is resting on her chin. She sits in an office space. The image is in monochrome.


Subitha Baghirathan

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.

Hope arrived
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.


Sunrise Identities

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


Grace Adeyemi

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
black men
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

As it is


I Am An Expression of the Divine

I am power and beauty

I am sin and disgrace

I am perfectly connected

With jagged edges and flawless grace

I am heat and coolness

I am solid and soft

The air and the earth united in this

continuation of life

Ever changing and growing

Playful and pathetic, learning

Needing to shout and cry

and hold you

My arms wrapped tight around you

Feeling your heart

beat against mine