I watched you throw yourself
From iron you joined cloud
From cloud you became burnt
In the centre of the sun
My mother told me I was young
Too young to have an eye to see
Why nobody can burn but me
My URBAN VOICE
Draws loose slang
Over my tongue
It tells the elite
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.