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#Afterhours Blog 5 | 19-Dec-14


Today is the eighth day of the year long #Afterhours project in which I rewrite my childhood through British poetry, by writing poems after/in response to poems published between 1984 and 2002, from when I was born to when I turned 18.

Last week something quite lovely happened to me here at the Library. I'd just sat down to read through Michael Hoffman's Acrimony (where I will take a poem to rewrite for 1986) when I heard a throat clear, and a lady enquire if I was Inua Ellams. I responded affirmatively and she said she'd just spent the last few days re-reading my previous pamphlets of poems, and en route home, on a whim, decided to step into the Poetry Library and recognised me from the back (!). She thought it was too great a coincidence and cleared her throat... she said this was proof that I must have left a good impression on her.

The week before, I taught a six-day poetry course at the Arvon centre in Lumb Bank for Apples & Snakes, where, to the largely performance orientated poets I stressed the importance of reading and publishing poetry; how it creates a legacy, a record, how others can come to your work weather you are aware of it or not, how you become a part of something larger, historic, cartographic of British Poetry. I spoke from my high horse, unfortunately and regretfully patronisingly to the students and last night, I was brought sharply down to earth by the poet Miriam Nash. She reminded me that eight or so years ago, Jacob Sam-La Rose had identical conversations with us in another Arvon Centre, deftly controlling his flabbergast that we, who had also come to poetry from performance, were not active readers.

It strikes me now how nuanced and nimble the cyclicality of the world is, every instance of it, from conflicts to chaos to conversations about poetry. Behind me are shelves and shelves of books by authors who I imagined were sat down and lectured too to read poetry, 'it'll broaden your world view, your artistic impulse, your voice, your everything?' Perhaps there is another way of looking at this #Afterhours project. Perhaps it is also an act of honouring the same conversations that no doubt led to the publication of these books I now pour through easily, casually selecting poems to pick apart and put back together; conversations that have happened, that will happen, that will keep on happening.

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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