This year’s Speak With My Voice project, generously funded by Pret Foundation Trust, began in December 2014 and we’re delighted to be able to share some of the inspiring poetry that has been penned during the workshops on the theme of “Time”. (This article is from 2015.)
Speak With My Voice is our creative writing and music project for people at the margins of society through homelessness, mental illness, loneliness, social exclusion and severe poverty. Since 2003, we’ve been working with drop-in centre Deptford Reach to provide vulnerable adults with the opportunity to express the feelings and develop new trusting relationships, social skills and self-confidence through the process of being creative.
Alongside a series of music workshops, our writer Joanna Ingham has led sessions exploring a variety of writing techniques, drawing on participants’ memories, beliefs and experiences to inspire their poetry. In advance of the unveiling of the book that we’ve compiled of their work, we have prepared a sneak preview of some of their poems for you to enjoy in advance!
Completely irrelevant, a boastful brag,
“Here I am, fresh and new. You just love me, don’t you?”
Oh dear me, another hurdle, challenge, to my face.
“Are you man enough? Can you handle me?”
I preferred you in Trinidad, on the windy
north coast. No amount of breeze
could dim the warm hug
of the Caribbean Sea.
Bake popping in the frying pan
to go with slices of cheese, and melting
butter on the scorching dough.
Or mornings in Belmarsh, tea kits
and cartons of milk. Breakfast TV
before art class. All the time in
Yet always you greet me, always surprise.
You surpass expectations.
Generally I’m happy, specifically I’m happy
in the morning.
LOOKING FOR WORK
She places the hat on his head, they stand square. Taking her hands in his, he gently squeezes them, and then they lean for a little kiss. She smiles and he leaves the house. From behind the coal-bunker, he picks up his handwritten sign and grasping it to his chest heads with a good stride to the pick-up point.
Some others are also gathering at the pick-up point under the bridge. The only sound is the swish and vroom from the occasional passing motor. Did someone speak? If they did, it was quick; swish again now and cool humid smells of wet road; grey day.
Quietly confident, apart from the others, and choosing a brighter spot too. By a cord, he hangs the sign from his neck. No-one else has one, but they’ve seen it.
CLOCKWISE (SUN DIALLED)
Father Time has forsaken me.
Or has he made a fool of me?
Analogue are my days, dialled somedays,
fleeting moments through time and space.
Tick, tock, stick. I waver through the mix.
Seiko, Quartz and Rolex have transformed,
leaving me behind. It’s noon.
Forty-two years I have been isolated and
bound to this town square.
Unbroken, always reliable, to the specks
that are people passing by me.
I fear the stopping of my hands. Diligence
keeps my ticks and tocks moving.
Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish my ticks
and tocks to stop.