Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

How to be Urban

Enlarge poem

Forget what you know.
How many different angles do you speak?
There’s always some other place to be,
and you don’t know what it’s called,
or what time it closes. Can you ever say
you’ve seen a city’s best side?
Do you speak front and refurbished facade?
Watch your back, hood up, eyes front.
Know your way home.
Nothing will ever truly belong to you.
What you have, you borrow, and everything
on a short term lease. Believe, nonetheless.
Call you city, rock and hard, never let a thing
get past you. Guard your softer parts.
Do you speak locked doors and always
over the shoulder? Do you speak a hemmed in sky?
Or do you smile at strangers like one-sided telephone calls,
like a torch beam pointed at the night?
Sirens will ring in your ears like the calls
of common birds. Bury your fears.
Play your hand close.
Closer still.

Jacob Sam-La Rose

Featured Poem:

A Love Letter to London/ A Psychogeography

Enlarge poem

They tell me you have changed and I don’t believe them,
different lives thread through the same needle-thin streets

and I have seen your back-handed welcomes before,
capital city of milk and honey, gold and all the other tired tropes—

call it 1963, the year my family arrived, air thick with soot
and broken promises, open hands that push back as soon as receive.

And they tell me you are better now,
and I’m not buying it, how it was once the Blacks

and now the Eastern Europeans, dear city
of seemingly open doors and closed signs turning

in neatly shuttered windows; dear city of borders
and invisible divides, of grime and drum and bass,

all harsh, metallic music and brick-wall vowels,
and everyone so willing to pull the ladder up behind them.

This was supposed to be a love letter
but it’s hard to love a place that could never take

my true name in it’s mouth, a place I was born
but always wondered whether I truly belonged.

A Psychogeography
A few straight days and no unbroken cloud. Above: a one note sonata, an airy drone. All the better to forget what went before, like all the other landmarks erased from your map of immutable things. The corner shop that’s no longer there. The pub on the corner swapped out for a new-build apartment block. The block of flats on the horizon and all its concrete mass, now empty space. Once, and only days ago, the air was filled with light and heat— an electricity that survived in the dark with a hum like a bell remembering the impact of a heavy hammer after the fact. Do you know the anatomy of a typical bell? Crown, head, shoulder, waist, lip, mouth and tongue. Today, the air has fallen silent. How quickly the mind adjusts to what is.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (3)
  • Pride (1)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (1)
  • Delight (1)
  • Inspiration (2)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (1)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Comments

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Jacob Sam-La Rose is a published poet who devises and facilitates projects for schools and other institutions, emerging poets, teachers, literature professionals and other creatives. His work is grounded in a belief that poetry can be a powerful force within a community, and that it’s possible to combine the immediacy of poetry in performance with formal rigour and innovation on the page. His work has been featured in a range of journals and anthologies. Breaking Silence (2012) is his first book length collection of poetry.

Jacob Sam-La Rose

Biography

Jacob Sam-La Rose is a published poet who devises and facilitates projects for schools and other institutions, emerging poets, teachers, literature professionals and other creatives. His work is grounded in a belief that poetry can be a powerful force within a community, and that it’s possible to combine the immediacy of poetry in performance with formal rigour and innovation on the page. His work has been featured in a range of journals and anthologies. Breaking Silence (2012) is his first book length collection of poetry.

How to be Urban

Enlarge poem

Forget what you know.
How many different angles do you speak?
There’s always some other place to be,
and you don’t know what it’s called,
or what time it closes. Can you ever say
you’ve seen a city’s best side?
Do you speak front and refurbished facade?
Watch your back, hood up, eyes front.
Know your way home.
Nothing will ever truly belong to you.
What you have, you borrow, and everything
on a short term lease. Believe, nonetheless.
Call you city, rock and hard, never let a thing
get past you. Guard your softer parts.
Do you speak locked doors and always
over the shoulder? Do you speak a hemmed in sky?
Or do you smile at strangers like one-sided telephone calls,
like a torch beam pointed at the night?
Sirens will ring in your ears like the calls
of common birds. Bury your fears.
Play your hand close.
Closer still.

Featured Poem:

A Love Letter to London/ A Psychogeography

Enlarge poem

They tell me you have changed and I don’t believe them,
different lives thread through the same needle-thin streets

and I have seen your back-handed welcomes before,
capital city of milk and honey, gold and all the other tired tropes—

call it 1963, the year my family arrived, air thick with soot
and broken promises, open hands that push back as soon as receive.

And they tell me you are better now,
and I’m not buying it, how it was once the Blacks

and now the Eastern Europeans, dear city
of seemingly open doors and closed signs turning

in neatly shuttered windows; dear city of borders
and invisible divides, of grime and drum and bass,

all harsh, metallic music and brick-wall vowels,
and everyone so willing to pull the ladder up behind them.

This was supposed to be a love letter
but it’s hard to love a place that could never take

my true name in it’s mouth, a place I was born
but always wondered whether I truly belonged.

A Psychogeography
A few straight days and no unbroken cloud. Above: a one note sonata, an airy drone. All the better to forget what went before, like all the other landmarks erased from your map of immutable things. The corner shop that’s no longer there. The pub on the corner swapped out for a new-build apartment block. The block of flats on the horizon and all its concrete mass, now empty space. Once, and only days ago, the air was filled with light and heat— an electricity that survived in the dark with a hum like a bell remembering the impact of a heavy hammer after the fact. Do you know the anatomy of a typical bell? Crown, head, shoulder, waist, lip, mouth and tongue. Today, the air has fallen silent. How quickly the mind adjusts to what is.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (3)
  • Pride (1)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (1)
  • Delight (1)
  • Inspiration (2)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (1)
  • Peace (1)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (1)
  • Vigour (1)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

How to be Urban

Enlarge poem

Forget what you know.
How many different angles do you speak?
There’s always some other place to be,
and you don’t know what it’s called,
or what time it closes. Can you ever say
you’ve seen a city’s best side?
Do you speak front and refurbished facade?
Watch your back, hood up, eyes front.
Know your way home.
Nothing will ever truly belong to you.
What you have, you borrow, and everything
on a short term lease. Believe, nonetheless.
Call you city, rock and hard, never let a thing
get past you. Guard your softer parts.
Do you speak locked doors and always
over the shoulder? Do you speak a hemmed in sky?
Or do you smile at strangers like one-sided telephone calls,
like a torch beam pointed at the night?
Sirens will ring in your ears like the calls
of common birds. Bury your fears.
Play your hand close.
Closer still.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.