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#Afterhours Poem 1: 1984 | 21-Nov-14

I chose Tom Leonard's poem "Unrelated Incidents" because it seemed to have captured a moment in Glasgow's history. The fragmentary form of the poem is perfect; holding the seven parts in the mind weaves together the political, social and economic zeitgeist of Glasgow at the time it was published in 1984. It seemed perfect then to use this as starting point for the project; a way to carve out solid ground on which to build the future poems. The infamous Part (3) which begins "This is the six a clock news" spoke specifically about Glasgow's relationship with English, and it felt equally appropriate to talk about Nigeria's violent history with their language.

This is the
six o'clock
news the man
said and
the reason
I'm speaking
English is
because when 
the British came
they dismantled
our natural
channels, sold
our historians
and teachers, killed
who resisted,
lumped together
hundreds of tribes
and their four
hundred languages
into this pressure
cooker of a land
mass, called it
and shoved the King
James Bible down
the throat
of the southern
and middle belt
at gun point,
leaving relations
with the north
in tatters, but
their tongue secure.
This is their
legacy. This is
the six o'clock
news. Listen up.

Read more about the #Afterhours project here

#Afterhours needs your help in suggesting poems for Inua to rewrite, published between 1984 and 2002. You can suggest entire collections for Inua to browse or specific poems from these years. Why not set Inua the challenge of rewriting your favourite poem from this period?  Take a look through your books and magzines at home, search online or access the library's holdings for each year through searching online here

Send your suggestions for Inua or tweet us@wetblackbough @InuaEllams

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