Commission ‘Reimagining the City’ with Mona Arshi, Will Harris, Maryam Hessavi, Degna Stone and music from Paula Darwish & Serpil Kılıç: 27 April 2019

Free poetry and music event at the Whitworth Art Gallery on 27 April 2019 (2.30-4.00). This is our annual commission event; four poets have been invited to participate in a poetry commission ‘Reimagining the City’:

Mona Arshi

Photo credit: Svetlana Cernenko

Mona Arshi worked as a  Human rights lawyer at Liberty before she started writing poetry. She completed her Masters in poetry in 2011 at the University of East Anglia with a distinction. Her debut collection  ‘Small Hands’ won the Forward Prize for best first collection in 2015. She has also been a prizewinner in the Magma, Troubadour and Manchester creative writing competitions. Mona was the 2016-2017 Arvon/Jerwood poetry mentor .She has performed her work at over 40 Festivals both here and abroad. She has read at the Royal Society of Literature, the Poetry School, The Southbank and in  2017 she was one of the judges for the Forward Prize. Mona makes regular appearances on the radio including Front Row and was recently commissioned to write a programme on the Odyssey for ‘Book of the week’ for Radio 4. Her poems and interviews have been published in many magazines including The Times, The Guardian, The Times of India as well as on the London Underground. In 2015 Sathnam Sanghera from the Times  described Mona as ‘nothing less than Britain’s most promising writer.’

Mona’s second collection ‘Dear Big Gods’ is to due to be published in April 2019 by Liverpool University Press.

Will Harris

Will Harris is a London-based poet and critic. He is the author of the chapbook of poems, All this is implied (HappenStance, 2017), and the essay, Mixed-Race Superman (Peninsula Press, 2018). His first full-length poetry book, RENDANG, is forthcoming from Granta in spring 2020.

Maryam Hessavi

Maryam Hessavi a British, Manchester-based poet. An Alumni of The University of Manchester, her poetry has featured in various commissions, Peter Barlow’s Cigarette series, Ledbury Festival 2018 readings, readings with Kevin Bateman PresentsSmoke Magazine, Ambit and The Emma Press. She is a Ledbury Critic, with reviews featured or forthcoming in The Manchester ReviewPoetry LondonPoetry WalesThe Poetry School, PBSMagma, Ambit and The Guardian.

Degna Stone

Degna Stone is a co-founder of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine, a contributing editor at The Rialto and a pamphlet selector for the Poetry Book Society. She received a Northern Writers Award in 2015 and is a fellow of The Complete Works III. She is an Inscribe supported writer and her latest pamphlet Handling Stolen Goods is published by Peepal Tree Press. Her appearances include: StAnza International Poetry Festival, Leeds Lit Festival and BBC Radio 3s The Verb. (Photo credit: Phil Punton).

Paula Darwish and Serpil Kılıç

2017 Anatolian Folk Paula Darwish.jpgAlready a singer/songwriter in her own right, Paula Darwish became more well known in the early 2000s for her unique and captivating interpretations of Turkish and Kurdish folk songs. Her growing passion for the the old folk music of the Anatolia region led to the founding of the Country & Eastern band in Manchester (2002-2012). The band combined elements of Turkish and later Kurdish folk with electric instruments and western grooves. Paula now mainly performs acoustically with Serpil, who is originally from Dersim province in Turkey and has been playing bağlama with Paula since 2004. As well as Turkish and Kurdish songs, their repertoire also includes song in Arabic, Armenian and other Middle Eastern languages.

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Workshop with John McAuliffe: 27 April 2019

Workshop with John McAuliife on Saturday 27 April 2019, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee is £20. Participants are invited to bring along a poem to share with John and the group for feedback (please bring 15 copies of the poem). Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

Workshop Payment £20Pay Now Button with Credit Cards 

John McAuliffe

John McAuliffe has worked as a poet and teacher in Manchester since 2004. His fourth book The Way In won the Michael Hartnett Prize in 2016. His versions of Igor Klikovac, Stockholm Syndrome (Smith Doorstop), is the PBS Spring Pamphlet Choice, and a pamphlet of new poems, A Good Connection, is forthcoming with Periplum later this year. He also writes a regular poetry column for The Irish Times.

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Jacob Polley, Phoebe Power & Amy McCauley with music from Rachael Gladwin: 23 March 2019

Free event at the Whitworth Art Gallery. All welcome.

Jacob Polley

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Jacob Polley was born and grew up in Cumbria. He has published four books of poems with Picador, winning the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry for his fourth, Jackself. He was also awarded the 2013 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, for The Havocs, and the Somerset Maugham Award for his first novel, Talk of the Town (2009). Jacob has written and performed drama for the radio, as well as made films and various collaborative public art and performance pieces. Jacob is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and lives with his family on the North East coast.

Jackself was described by the judges of the T.S. Eliot Prize as ‘a firework of a book; inventive, exciting and outstanding in its imaginative range and depth of feeling.’ A poet of the uncanny and the startlingly lyrical, Jacob Polley’s work explores his rural upbringing, the forces of tradition and history, and the power of speech as it approaches song.

Phoebe Power

Phoebe Power’s debut poetry collection, Shrines of Upper Austria (Carcanet, 2018), is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, Winner of the 2018 Forward (Felix Dennis) Prize for Best First Collection and shortlisted for the 2018 T.S. Eliot Prize. She has collaborated with other artists on projects including a live performance of her pamphlet Harp Duet (Eyewear, 2016), and Christl, a video installation involving poetry, visual art and sound. Phoebe received a Northern Writers’ Award in 2014 and an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2012.

Amy McCauley

Amy McCauley is a poet, editor, performer and workshop facilitator. She is an Editor at MAI: Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture and her dramatic work Oedipa was published by Guillemot Press in 2018.

Rachael Gladwin

Rachael Gladwin is a singer-songwriter and contemporary harpist. Her upbeat folky songs deliver melodic stories about people, places and journeys. Rachael also works in jazz, music for street theatre and indoor theatre, large scale performance projects, creative session playing and performing nationwide with various bands. She has played and recorded with dozens of artists including Guy Garvey, Corinne Bailey Rae, DJ Shadow, Jimmy Osmond and  Susan Boyle. Internationally, Rachael is the harpist for the dazzling French street theatre company La Machine where she performs on a moving cherry picker 40 feet in the air next to giant roaming mechanical animals.

For Poets and Players Rachael will be performing songs from her 2018 album, Somewhere by the Moon.

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Workshop with Mark Pajak: 23 March 2019

Workshop with Mark Pajak on Saturday 23 March 2019, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

Workshop Payment £20Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

Mark Pajak

Mark Pajak’s work has appeared in The London Review of Books, Poetry London, The North, The Rialto and Magma. He has been commended in the National Poetry Competition, awarded first place in The Bridport Prize and has also received a Northern Writers’ Award, an Eric Gregory Award and an UNESCO international writing residency. His first pamphlet, Spitting Distance, was selected by Carol Ann Duffy as a Laureate’s Choice and is published with smith|doorstop.

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Workshop with Daljit Nagra: 23 February 2019

Workshop with Daljit Nagra on Saturday 23 February 2019, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee is £20. Please email davidborrott@btinternet.com to confirm a place. Once your place has been confirmed payment can be made by cheque or by using the PayPal button below:

Workshop Payment £20Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

Daljit Nagra

Daljit’s four poetry collections, all with Faber & Faber, have won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem and Best First Book, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award, and been shortlisted for the Costa Prize and twice for the TS Eliot Prize. Daljit is a PBS New Generation Poet whose poems have appeared in The New Yorker, the LRB and the TLS, and his journalism in the FT and The Guardian. The inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Radio 4 & 4 Extra, he presents the weekly Poetry Extra, and serves on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature, and teaches at Brunel University London.

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Competition 2019

OUR 2019 COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED.  WINNERS WILL BE INFORMED BY 2 MAY 2019.

 

 

 

 

We are pleased to announce the 7th poetry competition run by Poets & Players, one of Manchester’s leading organisers of poetry and music events.

OUR JUDGE FOR 2019 WILL BE KEI MILLER

Kei Miller is a poet, novelist, essayist, short story writer and broadcaster. His many books include the novel Augustown (W&N, 2016) and poetry collection The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet, 2014) which won the Forward Prize (Best Poetry Collection of 2014). In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature. He has a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and is currently a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Exeter.  Kei Miller is represented by Renaissance One

What previous judges have said about the Poets & Players Competition:

When Poets & Players asked me to judge their competition I happily agreed. It’s an organisation I have long admired, from its earliest days with the inspiring founder Linda Chase, to today’s impressive incarnation in the splendid Whitworth Gallery.  (Pascale Petit, 2018)

Poets & Players is one of the most significant and impressive poetry organisations in the country: the quality of the readings it puts on, its presence in the city is remarkable, so I’m delighted to be part of it in judging this competition. (Michael Symmons Roberts, 2017)

What was electrifying about this year’s entries … was not just the wide and eclectic range of subject matters … but also the range of forms and tones, the many tongues and registers that together created a resonating and distinct entry of poetry. (Jackie Kay, 2016)

What a fabulously organised competition… One tries to dissuade people from the idea of competitions but if you’re going to have one have it like this. (Paul Muldoon, 2015)

It was actually really fun judging the competition because you get the sense of what is happening in poetry right now … it was fascinating to take the temperature, as it were, of contemporary poetry. I’d like to thank Poets and Players organisation for running the competition, for wanting to run the competition, but also in general for the work that they do in promoting poetry in Manchester and the broader area, it’s a commendable organisation and I’m delighted to be associated with it. (Vona Groarke, 2014)

This competition was scrupulously organised, and I loved the fact that the anonymity of the entries allowed each poem to speak for itself. (Jacob Polley, 2013)

POETS & PLAYERS PRIZE

Kei Miller will read ALL poems. All poems will be judged anonymously.

1st Prize: £600
2nd Prize: £200
3rd Prize: £100

Commended poets at the judge’s discretion.

Closing Date: 13 March 2019

Winners will be informed by 2 May 2019 and will be invited to read alongside Kei Miller at the prize awarding ceremony on the afternoon of Saturday 18 May 2019 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. If you have not been notified by 2 May 2019, we are afraid you have not been successful.

RULES AND OTHER INFORMATION

  • The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16, except for members of the Poets & Players committee.
  • Poems must be in English, typewritten in single space, font size 12. Please begin each poem on a new page but multiple online entries should be contained in a single document.
  • Poems can be on any subject, in any style or form, but must be the author’s own original work. They should not have appeared anywhere before, online or in print. Please do not submit poems that are currently under consideration elsewhere.
  • Maximum line length for individual poems is 40 lines (excluding title). Please do not include photographs or illustrations.
  • No changes can be made to poems once submitted and we regret that we are unable to provide feedback or make any refunds.
  • You may submit as many poems as you wish, accompanied by the appropriate payment and application form.
  • Please note that all competition entries must reach us by 13 March 2019, (online entries may be submitted up to 12 midnight on this date (GMT); postal entries must be received in our mailbox no later than 13 March 2019). Entries arriving after this date will not be considered.

HOW TO ENTER

ENTER BY POST

ALL entries must be accompanied by a completed application form (see the link below):

Competition Application Form 2019

  • Please post the completed Competition Application form and poems to: Poets & Players Poetry Competition, Poetry Dene, 16 Clifton Street, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 5DY.
  • If you wish to receive confirmation of your entry please enclose a prepaid envelope.
  • Poems must be printed on separate, numbered sheets, word processed (or typed) and clearly legible (single spaced and font size 12).
  • Please do not include your name or other identifying information on the same page as the poem/s. All poems will be judged anonymously.
  • You may enter as many poems as you wish but please ensure you add all poem titles to the application form.
  • Entry fee is £4 per poem or 3 for £10. Please do not send cash. Postal entries must be paid by cheque or postal order (only email entries may use PayPal). Please make payable to ‘Poets & Players’ and send together with your poem/s and Competition Application form to the address above.

ENTER BY EMAIL

ALL entries must be accompanied by a completed application form (see the link below):

Competition Application Form 2019

Please email the completed Competition Application form and poems to
P-Pcomp@mail.com All email entries will be acknowledged.

  • Please ensure that all poems are sent as a single attachment and not in the body of the email. Please use your name as the title of the document (poems and application form can be in the same document but must be on separate pages). If you are submitting more than one poem you should include them all in the same attachment but please ensure pages are numbered and start each poem on a new page. Single spaced and font size 12. Please save documents as doc, docx or PDF.
  • You may enter as many poems as you wish but please ensure you add all poem titles to the application form.
  • Please do not include your name or other identifying information on the same page as the poem/s. All poems will be judged anonymously.
  • Entry fee is £4 per poem or 3 for £10. Email entries must be paid by PayPal. IMPORTANT please include the PayPal reference number on the application form.
      • Single poem £4 Pay Now Button with Credit Cards
      • Three poems £10 Pay Now Button with Credit Cards

CHECKLIST: Completed Application Form; poems on separate sheets (with no identifying information); cheque or postal order made payable to ‘Poets & Players’ (if submitting by post); PayPal reference (if submitting by email).

COPYRIGHT

Entrants retain copyright of their poem, however, we would hope to receive permission to make a video recording of the winners reading at the awards ceremony for our website, and to publish the winning poems on our website and/or in the Whitworth Art Gallery for one year after the competition.

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Lavinia Greenlaw and Daljit Nagra with music from Blind Monk: 23 February 2019

Free event at the Whitworth Art Gallery. All welcome.

Lavinia Greenlaw

Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London, where she has lived for most of her life. Her teenage years were spent in a village in Essex. She has published five collections of poetry with Faber & Faber including Minsk (2003), which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot, Forward and Whitbread Poetry Prizes, and The Casual Perfect (2011). A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde  (2014) was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. Her next collection, The Built Moment, will appear in spring 2019.

Her first novel, Mary George of Allnorthover, was published in 2001 and won the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger. A second novel, An Irresponsible Age, appeared in 2006, followed by two non-fiction works: The Importance of Music to Girls (2007) and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland (2011). She has published and broadcast short stories, including We Are Watching Something Terrible Happening and The Darkest Place in England, both of which were shortlisted for the National Short Story Award. Her third novel, In the City of Love’s Sleep, was published in September 2018.

Daljit Nagra

Daljit’s four poetry collections, all with Faber & Faber, have won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem and Best First Book, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award, and been shortlisted for the Costa Prize and twice for the TS Eliot Prize. Daljit is a PBS New Generation Poet whose poems have appeared in The New Yorker, the LRB and the TLS, and his journalism in the FT and The Guardian. The inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Radio 4 & 4 Extra, he presents the weekly Poetry Extra, and serves on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature, and teaches at Brunel University London.

Blind Monk

BLIND MONK formed early 2012 playing arrangements of Thelonious Monk tunes without a pianist! After appearing at many festival/ club dates (Gateshead International Jazz Fest, Mostly Jazz Fest, Manchester Jazz Fest, Marsden Jazz Fest, Liverpool Jazz Fest, Manchester Literature Fest, Buxton International Fest …), they released their first original CD “Coulrophobia” and have been busy writing and touring ever since.  In 2018 they signed to new label Anti Social Jazz Records and record our third album “Dadderisms” at Manchester’s infamous 80 Hertz studios (GoGo Penguin, Mr Scruff, Mammal Hands …). Their latest material forges all our wide ranging influences – jazz, folk, beats, african, asian, classical, cinematic, rock, electronic into a unique sound firmly steeped in the legendary trios of yesteryear but simultaneously yielding a current UK jazz revivalist vibe. “Dadderisms” is a collection of personal stories of the bond between a father and child. Each track symbolises a quote or phrase a band member’s father would say to him, a ‘dadderism’. Often meaningless or nonsensical when heard by others, we can all relate to the one liners our fathers shared with us, whether it had a message or meaning, its a memory of our bond with our fathers.

Bob Whittaker – saxophone
Hugo Harrison – bass
Johnny Hunter – drums

 

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Colette Bryce, Kit Fan and Martin Kratz, with music from the Kell Wind Trio: 19 January 2019

Free event at the Whitworth Art Gallery. All welcome.

Colette Bryce

Colette Bryce is the author of four collections with Picador. Her latest, The Whole & Rain-domed Universe (2014), which draws on her experience of growing up in Derry during the Troubles, was shortlisted for the Forward and Costa prizes, and received a Ewart-Biggs Award in memory of Seamus Heaney. Selected Poems (2017) won the Pigott Prize for poetry at Listowel 2018. Colette is a freelance writer and former editor of Poetry London magazine. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Kit Fan

Born in Hong Kong, Kit Fan moved to Britain at the age of 21. His first book Paper Scissors Stone won the inaugural HKU International Poetry Prize.  His second collection As Slow As Possible is a Poetry Books Society Recommendation and chosen by the Guardian as one of the 50 biggest books in Autumn 2018.  He was shortlisted for the 2017 TLS Mick Imlah Poetry Prize. He was also shortlisted for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize consecutively in 2017 for ‘Duty Free’ and in 2018 for ‘A City of Culture’.  He won a 2018 Northern Writers Award for Diamond Hill, a novel in progresswww.kitfan.net

Martin Kratz

IMG_0225.JPGMartin Kratz’s first pamphlet, A Skeleton’s Progress, was published in 2018 by Poetry Salzburg. He is co-editor of Mount London by Penned in the Margins (2014), a book of essays that explores hills and other elevations in the capital. His poem ‘The Man Who Walked Through Walls’ was Highly Commended for the Forward Prize in 2014. He translates from the German including, most recently, the poetry of Berthold Brecht and Nelly Sachs.

Kell Wind Trio

The Kell Wind Trio has gained a reputation for giving lively and informative concerts which include music of many different styles and genres – from music of the Baroque to accessible music from the 20thand 21stcenturies. The Kell Wind Trio is named after the pioneering English instrumentalist Reginald Kell, who was the first clarinettist to use vibrato in orchestral concerts.

Alastair Roberts plays principal flute regularly with a number of orchestras in the Manchester area including the Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra and the Cheshire Sinfonia.  He is a member of several chamber groups that perform regularly throughout the North West of England including the Telemann Baroque Ensemble.

Geoffrey Smith has been principal clarinet of the Stockport Symphony Orchestra since its inception in 1975. He also plays regularly as principal clarinet with both Wilmslow Symphony Orchestra and Cheshire Sinfonia. He has also appeared many times as soloist with these and other orchestras.

Ian Harvey was a Junior Exhibitioner at London’s Royal Academy of Music. His musical commitments include the position of principal bassoon with the Stockport Symphony Orchestra.  He runs his own business repairing woodwind instruments.

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Workshop with Colette Bryce: 19 January 2019

Workshop with Colette Bryce on Saturday 19 January 2019, 10.30-12.30 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. The fee is £20, please email davidborrott@btinternet.com for details of how to pay. Participants will be invited to submit a poem to Colette before the workshop and feedback will be given during the session.

Colette Bryce

Colette Bryce is the author of four collections with Picador. Her latest, The Whole & Rain-domed Universe (2014), which draws on her experience of growing up in Derry during the Troubles, was shortlisted for the Forward and Costa prizes, and received a Ewart-Biggs Award in memory of Seamus Heaney. Selected Poems (2017) won the Pigott Prize for poetry at Listowel 2018. Colette is a freelance writer and former editor of Poetry London magazine. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.

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Migrations Commission: new work from Sophie Herxheimer, Kapka Kassabova & Tariq Latif

Sophie Herxheimer

For Gulwali Passarlay

Small Gulwali hadn’t seen the sea,
though gulls hijacked his name.
He’d learned to shepherd in the snows of home,
bossing his aunties: cover your heads
for shame! Set out a fledgeling
fundamentalist, till harsh months
pecked at him and beat their wings.
Rare lights redrew the map: a kind old face,
a cosy stew: hope’s landmarks.
Not drowned! But washed to lucky Bolton.
He carried their Olympic Torch.
He carries his own flame now.
His new aunt-teachers on the film clip say:
Gulwali’s going to be prime minister one day.

Some background on the poem from Sophie:
The little sonnet was inspired by meeting and sharing a platform with refugee campaigner (and former child refugee) Gulwali Passarlay at a book festival, and then reading about his experiences of coming to Britain, in his book The Lightless Sky.

Watch Sophie reading the poem here

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Sophie Herxheimer is an artist and a poet. Her work has been shown at her local allotments and at Tate Modern, at The National Portrait Gallery and on a 48 metre hoarding along the seafront in Margate. She has held residencies for The Thames Festival, The National Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Transport for London, the Arvon Foundation and Winchester Poetry Festival amongst many others. A current commission is making new portraits of 26 essential poets for The Poetry Foundation in Chicago. Previous projects include creating a 300 metre linen tablecloth for a public banquet on Southwark Bridge, sculpting a Mrs Beeton shaped concrete poem sited next to her grave, making a giant book in collaboration with a rural community in the midlands, devising the visuals for National Poetry Day, creating the colour palette for CBeebies hit The Night Garden. She has an ongoing project of collecting stories from members of the public by listening and drawing with people one to one. Recent publications include Your Candle Accompanies the Sun (Henningham Family Press 2017) and Velkom to Inklandt, (Short Books 2017) which was selected as an Observer poetry book of the month and a Sunday Times book of the year. New out is a collaborative book with Chris McCabe, responding to William Blake: The Practical Visionary (Hercules Editions, 2018).

Next projects include a poetry collection in 2019, Sixty Lovers to Make and Do, with Henningham Family Press, and an art residency in Berkeley, California.

(photo credit: Judith Palmer)

Kapka Kassabova

Cold Water

At the beginning was the mountain.
Inside the mountain – a spring that later would be called ‘Cold Water’.
But for the first million years or so, it had no name
and neither did the bear, jackal, wolf
that came to drink, their eyes like stars
in the humanless Cosmos, nor the storks that would briefly eclipse
the autumn skies of local childhoods.

One day, the first among us would arrive from Africa,
Arabia, across the strait the Greeks would later name the Bosphorus.
A child would bend down and drink
from Cold Water. The glaciers would be yet to come
to the north, creatures to disappear.
Thirty thousand years would pass, we would gather
and hunt, obscure and fruitful in the mountain.

Then others would arrive, their feet beating anew the old path,
and the black glistening buffalo of future centuries
who won’t stop but walk uphill on their knees
when the columns of refugees would pass
between one war and another, their lives packed in a cart.
A barbed fence would rise near Cold Water, one day,
to cut the mountain in two.

Cold Water would remain in no man’s land.
The Greeks would be long gone, the barbed fence later sold for scrap.
One day a child would bend down and drink,
his mother too, their lives packed in a rucksack, tired
as if they’d walked millennia, climbed mountains
on their knees, the smuggler urging them on with the others
because the guards are armed,
history’s bomb is ticking, there is no way back.

At Cold Water, someone built a stone bed for the stream.
Storks eclipse the sky to Africa, the glaciers
are melting again, creatures disappearing,
continents spill their people into the sea,
and though our bones are dust, we are still walking.
It takes forever to arrive once you have left.
Our consolation is to bend down and drink
the Cold Water of eternity: everything begins with a spring.

Some background on the poem from Kapka:
• ‘Cold Water is a real place – the locals still call it by its old Greek name, Krio nero (‘cold water’). It’s on the Bulgarian side of the border with Turkey, in a sort of no man’s land where only shepherds and hikers go now, but it is simultaneously positioned along a much-trodden mountain path that has seen many an exodus/ influx of peoples, fugitives in both directions (towards Turkey during the Cold War, for example). The latest are the refugees coming from the Middle East – this time from Turkey and into ‘Europe’.’
• ‘Cold Water is a mountain spring along the main migration route into Europe and that migration along there has never really stopped, since the beginning of the peopling of Europe.’
• ‘Here is an image of it. As you can see, the latest basin was built in 1971, complete with a Soviet star. But there has always been a spring here, and the name Cold Water long precedes its current look.

Watch Kapka reading the poem here

Kapka Kassabova is the author of Border (2017) which has just won the British Academy’s Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanading, and was also the winner of the Saltire Book of the Year, the Edward Stanford Book of the Year, and the Highland Book Prize. She is a poet and the author of two previous books of narrative non-fiction: Street Without a Name and Twelve Minutes of Love. Raised in Bulgaria and educated in New Zealand, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland. (photo credit TD).

Tariq Latif

I am cut in three

my flesh – scattered
to opposite parts of the world.

The British Raj
divided my country
with the stroke of a pen
and we had to move.

I reasoned with my sons
“the soil will be the same,
the seasons will not change,
our land is one continuous plane.”

But they raged like crazed tigers.

And they uprooted with such anger
and bitterness I knew
something would give – but this
oh Akal Purakh not this –

Param, Samir and Manan came to me,
after just one season following the terrible
move, with their passports and visas.
Australia. England. Canada.

I wanted to tear my chemise,
throw off my turban and cut my hair
but I held myself though in my heart I cried.

“Don’t be deceived by the five thieves,”
I said. “Where ever you find yourself
be sure to build a Gurdwara.”

Then I gouged my sword
into the Punjabi soil
and made a thick cut.
“A trunk,” I said and I marked
three branches for my three boys.

“Remember your roots, keep
your faith and go in peace.”
I hugged them one by one
and then they were gone
like jet smoke in the sky.

And the tiger in me lay down to die.

Watch Tariq reading the poem here

ImageTariq Latif has been writing poetry for over 30 years. He has 3 full collections: Skimming the Soul; Ministers Garden and The Punjabi Weddings. His pamphlet Smithereens was short listed for the Callum MacDonald Prize. All are Arc publications. He is currently putting together his fourth collection provisionally titled Refugees.

 

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