Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 27 October 2018

  • ii         rye lane (foul ecstasy)

    black girls don’t do drugs
    said the bouncer
    at Bussey,
    without searching
    me. Well, let
    me tell it, some
    of us sit smug
    in our youth.
    Full of white
    silver powders
    in cold smoking
    areas, waiting
    for the come up
    to hit us;
    chase the cold
    that’s set in
    our bones.  

    We gurn
    on hand rolled cigs;
    pray for the peak.
    Our mouths dressed,
    tongues, the taste
    of the foul
    curdled in our
    gums. We sink in
    this. Buzzed smiles
    under drooped eyes
    sharpened towards
    blue lights
    which flood the wet
    dance floor.  

    Our skins
    stay open, each
    touch from the bass
    sending us
    in upward spirals
    of bright starlight.            

    We beg
    the night not
    to end, plead
    with it to spend
    its morning cloaked
    in darkness.
    We want to stay
    alive in
    this wide blackness
    our pupils
    become; in this ache
    of clenched jaws. 

    by Belinda Zhawi 

    You can hear Belinda read this poem on our website.

    This is the second of two poems this week from our two newest ignitionpress pamphlets (on Monday we shared a poem by Natalie Whittaker). We are excited now to share with you a poem by Belinda Zhawi, which comes from her pamphlet Small Inheritances. Writing of the work, Kayo Chingonyi says: ‘Small Inheritances is a masterclass in what a poem is and can be for in the present moment. There is protest in these pages, but also a glimpse of what healing might look like, whether in a moment of intimacy or in different kinds of intoxication. There are intergenerational kinships and echoes in these poems that illuminate a poetics that so many of us have been crying out for.’

    The pamphlets were launched on Thursday at the Poetry Café in London, and we’ll also be at the Woodstock Poetry Festival on 10 November. Do join us there if you can! You can buy the pamphlets via our website

    Finally, if you haven't yet booked to come and see the award-winning poet Jay Bernard at Brookes this coming Wednesday, please visit this link to register (for free). Jay will perform from and talk about their extraordinary work Surge. This is an event not to be missed!

    ii  rye lane (foul ecstasy)’ is copyright © Belinda Zhawi, 2018. It is reprinted from Small Inheritances (ignitionpress, 2018).

    Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean-born writer and educator. She is an alumnus of the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths, University of London, where she studied on the BA in Politics and the Writer/Teacher MA, respectively. Belinda was a 2015/16 London Laureate and the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet. She is co-founder of BORN::FREE – a community-based literary movement and zine press. She currently lives and works in South East London. You can follow her work on Twitter

    ignitionpress, based at Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, is a poetry pamphlet press with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets, and established poets working on interim or special projects. The Managing Editor of the press is Les Robinson, who is the founder and director of the renowned poetry publisher tall-lighthouse. The first group of pamphlets, by Lily Blacksell, Mary Jean Chan, and Patrick James Errington, were published in February 2018. Mary Jean’s pamphlet, A Hurry of English, was selected by the Poetry Book Society as its Summer Pamphlet Choice 2018. You can learn more about the press and buy the pamphlets on the Poetry Centre website.

    Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.