Author's Voice

Zimbabwe’s jewel-pink sky full-stopped
four months of travelling alone
through six ripe mother countries
I felt sure were deep reflections of my lighter skin.

Each footstep took me further down
to rocks formed by an adult edge,
until I met my heart, unstable at its best,
now anchored by kind memories:

In Zambia, a smiling stranger hailed a bus for me.
He told the leering men I was his 'sister.
Leave her in peace. If not, I’ll hunt you down.'
With that, he shook his fist to make them nod.

Days later in Malawi on a dusty track,
waiting for another bus, punished by the heat,
a woman with her new born son,
agreed to call him my late brother’s name.

In Kenya on a dazzling beach, a girl ran waving,
shouting words. I did not understand,
tongue tied by English. She seemed surprised
and said, 'But you look pure Kikuyu.'

I've won several poetry competitions, most recently the Folklore Prize and a Bread and Roses Award; and I'm also a Forward Prize nominee for Best Single Poem. A best-selling debut collection, Her Lost Language, is One of 44 Poetry Books for 2019 (Poetry Wales), and a Jhalak Prize #bookwelove recommendation. My second collection, Map of a Plantation, is published by Indigo Dreams.

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