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.

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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.