Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Present at the Keelhauling

Enlarge poem

Kenya, late December 2007
For Sophie Mwelu Partington

What could so tiny a sailor have done
to deserve such punishment?
Did you fall asleep on deck, steal lemons,
mutiny?
I stand here like some bleeding heart lieutenant,
at a loss until

the doctor pulls you sternly round your mother’s keel,
and here you come, full-bloodied,
slick as kelp, so much the doctor cannot hold you,
ribbed and gulping with the joyful joy of lungs.

Ten toes, ten fingers, you’re
statistically sublime.
Mum’s little stowaway for nine long months,
and just for now,
this instant as I swaddle you with all my hugs,
you’re mine.

Stephen Derwent Partington

Featured Poem:

Politicised Funerals

Enlarge poem

Pity our waheshimiwa*,
haggling over corpses
like a parody, a farcical enactment
of great Brutus and Mark Antony.

Pity them, the pinstripe dogs
who chew upon the bodies of the dead.
It’s such a growling way
to offer your condolences
to family and friends.

Is it their pay that makes them rabid?

Come, let’s pity them.
For, see, they cannot grieve,
not for their allies nor their enemies.

In death, we all are meat:
come see our leaders
rip and spit and tear and eat.

The mourners see it, take a peek:
the bored-stiff chap inside the coffin’s
gone and voted with his feet.

*Kiswahili : ‘waheshimiwa’ meaning ‘honourables’.

Stephen-Derwent-Partington

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Comments

Your email address will not be published.

Biography

Stephen Derwent Partington is a teacher in Kenya, and a poet. He lives and works just outside Machakos and is a member of Concerned Kenyan Writers. His collection of poems, SMS & Face to Face, was published by Phoenix to critical acclaim in East Africa.

In addition to having his poetry widely published in UK and African journals he writes academic articles on regional literature for leading post-colonial journals and East African regional media. Previously he was poetry editor of the first three editions of Kwani East Africa’s ‘only literary journal’.

Stephen Derwent Partington

Stephen-Derwent-Partington
Stephen-Derwent-Partington

Biography

Stephen Derwent Partington is a teacher in Kenya, and a poet. He lives and works just outside Machakos and is a member of Concerned Kenyan Writers. His collection of poems, SMS & Face to Face, was published by Phoenix to critical acclaim in East Africa.

In addition to having his poetry widely published in UK and African journals he writes academic articles on regional literature for leading post-colonial journals and East African regional media. Previously he was poetry editor of the first three editions of Kwani East Africa’s ‘only literary journal’.

Present at the Keelhauling

Enlarge poem

Kenya, late December 2007
For Sophie Mwelu Partington

What could so tiny a sailor have done
to deserve such punishment?
Did you fall asleep on deck, steal lemons,
mutiny?
I stand here like some bleeding heart lieutenant,
at a loss until

the doctor pulls you sternly round your mother’s keel,
and here you come, full-bloodied,
slick as kelp, so much the doctor cannot hold you,
ribbed and gulping with the joyful joy of lungs.

Ten toes, ten fingers, you’re
statistically sublime.
Mum’s little stowaway for nine long months,
and just for now,
this instant as I swaddle you with all my hugs,
you’re mine.

Featured Poem:

Politicised Funerals

Enlarge poem

Pity our waheshimiwa*,
haggling over corpses
like a parody, a farcical enactment
of great Brutus and Mark Antony.

Pity them, the pinstripe dogs
who chew upon the bodies of the dead.
It’s such a growling way
to offer your condolences
to family and friends.

Is it their pay that makes them rabid?

Come, let’s pity them.
For, see, they cannot grieve,
not for their allies nor their enemies.

In death, we all are meat:
come see our leaders
rip and spit and tear and eat.

The mourners see it, take a peek:
the bored-stiff chap inside the coffin’s
gone and voted with his feet.

*Kiswahili : ‘waheshimiwa’ meaning ‘honourables’.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

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

Present at the Keelhauling

Enlarge poem

Kenya, late December 2007
For Sophie Mwelu Partington

What could so tiny a sailor have done
to deserve such punishment?
Did you fall asleep on deck, steal lemons,
mutiny?
I stand here like some bleeding heart lieutenant,
at a loss until

the doctor pulls you sternly round your mother’s keel,
and here you come, full-bloodied,
slick as kelp, so much the doctor cannot hold you,
ribbed and gulping with the joyful joy of lungs.

Ten toes, ten fingers, you’re
statistically sublime.
Mum’s little stowaway for nine long months,
and just for now,
this instant as I swaddle you with all my hugs,
you’re mine.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.