Welcome to the first of ten poetry selections by our guest editor Kinsman.
“This poem serves as a counter point to the media portrayal of those who come to this country seeking asylum, which often treats them as if they were some kind of invasive species rather than human beings. Often the act of physically getting here is fraught with difficulty and danger but the media chooses to portray this as cartoonish idiocy rather than desperation and determination. When we take the time to humanise people whose narratives are skewed in such a manner, we not only protest the biases of the media, we also stretch out a hand to help. The ending of this particular poem asks a great question about why we would cheer for escaped pigs but not escaped people.”
Abdul Haroun Almost Medals at Dover
The Athletes’ Village leaves much to be desired,
but there’s no lack of enthusiasm. It’s a steeple-chase
over 31 miles. Haroun’s been practising hard –
from the bloody sands of Sudan to the concrete beds
of Sangatte. He’s out of the blocks at nightfall
hurdling security gates with a gazelle’s grace,
dodges surveillance cameras as if they’re bullets –
that’s been a useful training – then it’s a steady race
along the track with the breath of family behind him.
Pace-setters hurtle past at 100 mph, sipping lattés
as they read the latest. At 28 miles he hits the wall.
No podium for Haroun, though he heard the Brits
love an underdog, went wild when two plucky pigs
hot-footed it off a knackers’ truck to freedom.
Note: Abdul Rahman Haroun was arrested in the Channel Tunnel attempting to seek asylum in the UK.
Claire Booker is a poet and playwright who lives in Brighton. Her debut pamphlet ‘Later There Will Be Postcards’ is out with Green Bottle Press. Her poetry has appeared widely, including in Ambit, Magma, The Morning Star, Poetry News, Prole and Under the Radar. She blogs at www.bookerplays.co.uk
This poem first appeared in the South Bank Poetry 10th anniversary edition.
Photo credit : Anna Kochan