A sequence of short features focusing on the five individual young poets included in the recently-launched collection Rising Stars published by Otter-Barry Books.
Boorn in 1997 and raised in East London, Amina Jama is a Somali-British writer and member of the Barbican Young Poets collective. She has had worked published by the Sula Collective, an online magazine ‘for and by people of colour’.
There are several examples of her spoken word poetry on YouTube, including this powerful piece performed for an adult audience.
‘The House At The End Of The Street’ is one of the best poems in the Rising Stars collection
One of the ironies of an anthology of poets known for their spoken word work is that it contains so many poems that do not rely on performance for their impact. This may be because the poets’ performed poetry is usually more adult in theme. Whatever the reason, ‘The House At The End Of The Street’, about a best friend moving home, is one such example of a poem that has full adequacy as printed words on a page.
Written in rhyming couplets it is lightly descriptive in a manner that belies the emotion behind it.
Leila was my best friend since Year Two.
For years we got each other through.
I was there when her dad left her mum,
I plaited her hair and stroked her heart until she was numb.
Now she was moving out from her house at the end of the street
and another kid would come into class and take her seat.
I also like the ambiguity at the start of the poem. Why are there ‘officers and firemen going in and out’? What of the ‘distant burnt smell’?
There is a welcome sense of humour in ‘Car Ride’, a poem about a father who always gets the words to songs wrong:
He would sing, ‘The Grand Old Duke of Pork…’
‘No, Dad!’ we’d scream. “It’s York!.”
No matter how many times we’d tell him
that there was no Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Fart,
and the song was not Row, Row, Row Your Goat…
Links to pieces about the other poets in the collection: