Poetry: Christian Campbell

Congratulations to Carribean poet Christian Campbell who won the Aldeburgh first collection prize for poetry on Friday! I was just reading his collection, Running the Dusk. Here is a poem from that collection:


A well-loved lit classic
packed in each bag, and a Harvard
sweatshirt to match the Pakistani
passport -- Iqbal goes first, catching
a flight to France. Then me,
in a tie and soft pants, khaki hat
to keep my head tame. We chat
clipped and colonial, like our tutors,
grinning out Oxford with a nod.
At immigration I put on airs
and styles, let the maleness growl
without teeth. Hold my chest
with untouchable height. All like
a politician, a Sidney Poitier,
an old Bahamian man. I look
only ahead and walk straight-back,
like my grandfather. Speak like he spoke
to foreigners, in his best moods,
he would put on the mouths
of all the Englishmen he'd met,
playing the Queen and how
she gave him his MBE -- Pa.
There, reciting and reciting Blake,
until he fell down blank and silent
as any road in Nassau
the morning after junkanoo.

--copyright Christian Campbell 2010 from Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree Press)

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