Florence

And when I think of you,

I think of baby’s breath.

How your trill blows give life,

Steaming curls around lidless pots

 

Set limbs in sterile fire

Those little white spores dotted

Around red roses, small lung leaps

Falling to your mercy, the leant knee breaking away

 

Caught as the whispering arm teases

Another cold moon from the sky,

Light hanging on his limp pallor

A grace of connective tissue cleaned of

 

Tears that we lost in movement,

Carried from swaddling hammocks to tomb.

Frozen in that motion, your back

Tilted as a feeding bird, bent towards open mouths:

 

You once said, ‘nothing in life but death.’

The sequelae of truth-seekers

Are pure water seeping through

Your incomplete book of mystics.

 

Weaving your web, you hold crimson torment

And marching maggots climbing limb to limb.

Enlisted to end – by these artisans of disaster –

Still I watched you paint a million murals

 

With your face cackling, a gathered and powdered saint.

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Lady with the Lamp

It’s been a strange time emerging from studying at UCL. I’ve felt a bit lost. But then good fortune comes and reminds me that everything will move into place with time and hard work. I’ve had my work commissioned by St Paul’s Cathedral and it is currently displayed alongside the work of fantastic poets. Focusing on magnifying our perception of Florence Nightingale, my poem took me a journey of fascinating research. I even dug into 19th Century medical books! To be able to share a poem about a woman who always imagined something better for the world has brought me so much joy. Imagination is everything. It is being able to think ahead with positivity.  At the heart of everything, I am a writer. It can be scary pursuing a career that’s based so much on chance but it all feels so worthwhile when you find yourself becoming acknowledged by good people who you respect. It is this recognition that encourages me, even more, to be my best self and keep making the right moves.

I’ve been trying to set myself lots of small goals recently to try and keep afloat. When you put them all together, the big things start happening.

My Urban Voice

My URBAN VOICE
Draws loose slang
Over my tongue
It tells the elite
That I:
Am not them
I can keep my words tight

                    Fight the breeze ease

                                                                   of Tottenham roads

                                       And deep colourful markets   –   I can make it just so:
Nobody knows who I am

where I am from.
I can tweak my laugh to fit
The states and minds of select boroughs
They call me an international lady
Exotic.  Dark hair. Smart voice.
They tell me I am better than expected.
Better than the girls who
tread trains with twangs in their tongues-

revealing in their one word

That they belong at their first postcode

Stay there. Stay.
But we all smile the same way

I’ll move through people
Using my words and my mind how I want.
Skimpy tongued in hallowed halls.
Selected words in selected boroughs.

*

I regularly encounter people who think that someone from a state school cannot achieve at the same level as a privately educated person. I believe in social mobility. I believe that although I can adopt the voice of a scholar, I am still a voice for the urban environment that I grew up in. You can hear the North London in my voice. You can hear my Turkish Cypriot heritage when I introduce myself with my foreign name. But I am in no rush to cover up my history in my voice. My urban voice is just as valid.