Johanna Piritta Peltonen

I met Johanna Piritta Peltonen while delivering a masterclass in Helsinki. She is an extraordinary writer, and gifts us with the incredible line ‘I started the tea/ the sea is my fault.’ She does not currently have a website, but you can contact her directly via: piritta.peltonen@gmail.com

  JUST VISITING

Lead by dreamy shoulders

and backing hands

to a table of history and stomachs

The air is open

 

II            My favourite edible things –

prawns and love

I want to eat his eyes to be safe

 

III           I rise, walk

attack the blinking lights

submit to the light knives

Fear has entered

with surgeon’s determination

 

IV          I return to the ring of stomachs

Crab in a tank

with tied-up scissors

Plates staring

polished

Slowly-licked forks waiting

 

V            Hugged tightly by death

My tiny head pushed down

into the invisible water

I started the sea

The sea is my fault

 

VI          Sudden lemon juice squeezed

from the sky

Snap say the scissors

He builds me back

street by street

word by word

 

October 2018

Harini

Harini is a young woman poet based in Singapore. We met when I facilitated a masterclass at the legendary Sing Lit Station, as part of my Australia/ South East Asia book tour of 2018. Harini is just beginning her journey into literature, but is already creating sweeping cinematic pieces like this one below.

This poem is guttural, sparse and essential, a brilliant evocation of the after-effects of sexual abuse; that feeling that something is trapped inside us, some new thing about to be born, some monster.

When Harini has gained a little more confidence, I hope to also publish her full name along with further examples of her work.

 

Flies

  1. The little girl is sitting in a living room.

There is a rumble within the sofa

Travelling

Up her buttocks

Across her chest

Into her eyes.

It’s the kind of shudder that births dead things.

Fault lines are spewing flies.

There is a cloud of them over her head.

 

  1. There is a little worm sat next to her.

She tucks the soles of her feet away from it

She knows it will tickle.

She’s too busy looking to the flies to know

The path it took into her chest.

 

  1. Tummies are not made for worms.

Wombs must not birth flies.

 

  1. Did you know flies are attracted to dead things?

 

  1. The girl will not know when they leave her.

The craters in her skin, volcanoes pouring pus from which they emerge

Unscathed

Tails hooking, pincers tearing,

climbing, sucking, eating.

Eating.

 

  1. The little girl is sitting in a living room.

There is a rumble in her womb

Travelling

Seeking release

It flips her insides upon her skin

For all to be freed.

All she is

Is a cloud of flies.

 

 

 

 

Ansori Sad Howidi

My name is Ansori. I was a child when my family fled Iraq because of Saddam Hussein’s regime’s brutality, many of them couldn’t and got killed. All my family including children and women were sentenced to death because they were considered as members of the opposition party. I was raised in Syria in a refugee camp. My father tried his best to give us a normal life. I started attending biology science at Damascus University, unfortunately I couldn’t finish my studying as the civil war started. In 2011 ISIS took over the camp and destroyed my home and again, we had to run away, we didn’t lose anything because we had nothing, we never did. My hero Mohammad Hawydi was burned to death by ISIS, that day I lost everything, my soul, my sun and my smile. I lost my language but I found my pen…..

Ansari will be developing her writing over the next 12 months and looking forward to publishing and reading some of her work, as well as creating a special commissioned poetry film.

She will also be closely mentored during that time to help her create her own workshop based arts project that will target refugee communities across London.

Below are some examples of her work, which we will be developing into the film project:

Eight Years Old

Her mother helped her to wear the new uniform.

It is her first day at school…

The classroom was full of children! New friends!

Like her, they wear the same uniform.

Copying other children, she said “Good morning” to everyone.

She was like them. She was one of them.

“Do you paint your entire house in green? Do you read the same Quran as we do?”

“Why you Shia kill yourselves in Ashura?” the teacher asked her.

All the children’s eyes are fixed on her. Speechless and helpless she stood there, unable to think, unable to blink.

She was not one of them, and will never be.

She was an alien.

 

Disney Movie

She is crying so hard that her tears turn into blood.

”What is wrong with you?” her parents shout! “It is just a Disney movie!”

No one knows what she has lost to rent that cursed DVD.

“Because we lost your passport, you can keep the DVD…”

Now she wants to die.

They have lost the only piece of paper, which proves she has a face, a heart and a name; the only paper that proves her existence.

Now she does not exist.

No one is going to forgive her, not even God.

Tick Tock

Their anxious eyes are fixed on the clock.

‘How long have you been in this country?’

They stepped with dirty shoes where her father prays, on the rug her mother cleaned two days ago. As they shouted at her family, she swallowed her helpless anger while her mother squeezed her hand in a warning sign.

They do not care if their disgraceful behavior terrifies her 5-year-old sister or humiliates her 70-year-old grandfather. They never did.

Her brother told them he is a doctor, but they laugh as if it was a joke.

Every year they cleanse the camps searching for undocumented families. They come with their military uniforms, heavy shoes and aggressive behavior to spread the horror through the houses.

Money is the only language they speak. Her brother does not understand it. Her father speaks it fluently.

Names

علي, سجاد, عباس

Names.

Who cares about names?

ISIS cares.

Names…

In my country, they are suicide bombs.

A Piece of Bread

“Why are you not eating the bread?”

“Because mum, I have to lose weight”

“But you are only 6 years old!”

“Yesterday there was a bomb, you carried me, and I was too heavy for you”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Crutwell

Sarah Crutwell is a Spoken Word Poet and Creative Events Organiser based in the North East. Her work aims to address the things we lower our voices to talk about.

With a performance style that is engaging, raw and at times highly emotive, her work takes on issues such as mental health, sex, loneliness, politics, sexuality, ingrained sexism and a woman’s right to make her own decisions. Sarah’s voice is one of unity, strength and interrogation.

This September Sarah will be publishing her debut poetry collection Pollyfiller with Umbrella Poetry, and looking forward to taking the book across the UK. If you would like to book her, please get in touch.

She is available for both spoken word/poetry performances and workshops

Lady Unchained

“My life ended and began with a prison sentence,
Those metal doors awoke the faith in me”

Lady Unchained

I am Lady Unchained. A poet, promoter, workshop facilitator, Founder and CEO of Unchained Poetry (an artistic platform for artists with experience of the criminal justice system).

Lady Unchained is available for performances, workshops, panels and discussions, and is currently working working on her debut poetry collection and album.

Over the course of the next 12 months, more examples of Lady Unchained’s ground breaking and emotive work will be posted up here alongside listings of her performances and workshops. She is a powerful advocate of women within the prison system and her writing and performances challenge everything we thought we knew about the criminalised female.

Keep checking back to read cantos and short stories from Lady Unchained, as well as a specially commissioned film of a new piece written exclusively for The Night Alphabet project.

DD

slightly imperfect

 

I hear the panic

phone line cuts

I see her name

my daughter and I know

 

Denial

Don’t come around, I rang by mistake  she whispers;

another way she hides, not moving,

like a stiff corpse, voice clamped but I find her.

No matter how well she covers, holding her breath, her feet are always dangling in clear view.

 

Truth

I see her nose bruised and bleeding, wiping his spit from her brow,

blood runs through the kitchen like a flowing red satin ribbon,

ripped splatter of crimson on her cream jumper hurriedly hid under dirty tea towels.

My granddaughter’s small innocent frame mopping up the spill with toilet roll dabbing at the puddles that seep,

already in training to hide the abuse.

Lies

Her mouth tells me lies,

untruths and excuses,

I know this song -I know this dance

I see her I know her, I was her.

I still believe in my throat this blood is my fault,

my granddaughter’s shadow next to me, little fingers cling to mine -watching.

 

Stand-back

She has her own life

and although I want to rip his head off,

baptise him in a ring of fire,

I know I must observe and not disturb,

Arms length.

 

Helpless.

I want to scoop her back into my womb, away from male hands that hurt

Her story is my story and my granddaughter at four is learning love equals blood and the truth we mute.

Once upon a time

When I look at my grandchildren what do I see,

A world of possibility but will that ever be?

A daddy that takes heroin for his tea

A mammy that austerity cuts have left on her knees

My two Cinderella’s crushed by poverty giggles given freely crushed by poverty

Police don’t protect them -puts the blame on mam

Social workers don’t protect them insist that they see dad

The drug test promised to keep them safe isn’t done

They find themselves in danger hid in an unfamiliar room

Agencies blame funding like that makes a good excuse!

Mams benefits are sanctioned because mam didn’t get the letter

The letter the postman couldn’t deliver because dad had threatened to light the house whilst Cinderella s sleep

Result fireproof letterbox that failed to open

So, mums got no cash, no sleep but plenty of fear! crushed

Legal system don’t get me started let dad out within a few hours after every yes, every arrest

The wasted bravery it took from mam to go to court

He pleads guilty and a fine to pay at a penny a day

Solution by agencies move mam and Cinderella’s away

Her family scramble to get deposit for their rented escape

Dad roams safe streets whilst like hostages Cinderella s flee

Here one minute gone the next clock strikes midnight

There happily ever after is in a different county

Mams no choice but to re-apply and fight for every penny Cinderella’s need, crushed

Freezing cold, bright house loans no family to rely on,

Mams heart aches with love for the girl’s hush hush hush

 

Thanks to the cuts all in one bedroom they slumber Cinderella’s in a single bed and mam festering on the blow-up mattress on the floor

But at least they are safe

not our problem anymore

30% of Britons children are classed as poor in 2017

2/3 from working families

Half of all children in poverty are from single-parent families

Wake up. Children need you now.

Fragile

Shiny hair, high heels and lip-gloss

Back on the market looking for love

He presses against me, gets as close as he can

promises me, he is my ideal man

Rescuing me from feeling alone

I advance to him panting

I’ve found a safe home

He is my fragile man made of glass and I will softly hold him and not smash him

I’m a pup yapping “please love me please love me “

He disapproves with an eye squint

I’m just too much

Then he strokes my ego

With a wink from his green eyes

quickly I react to his commands

Sit -I will remain silent, shut my mouth, smile

Come- I will go directly to him no distractions

Good girl -Relief

He is my angry man made of steel and I deserve the beating

Down -clothes off, open legs he devours my naked flesh

Stay -remain still, numb you are a vessel for him to come -endure the pain

Release -my favourite words I now can move to bathroom and wash away his bodily fluids

Good girl -I Bork internally and pulse revulsion

 

He is my mistake man, but he makes me feel I can’t leave

 

One off

Stripped bare bent

His reflection behind me in the kitchen window

He only gets hard when I’m clenched shut

dry blistering in his erection

women’s design so easily to thread

Resistance from my head puts tension between my legs

forced into submission

 

“One off “‘my mind says he loves me

 

The weight on my body startles me awake

Dreamlike I pat his naked flesh

I’m paralysed in shock this is real

I play dead whilst he slams

Still I remain whilst he plays

Till it trickles into a patch underneath me

My body swerves to escape the wet

 

“One off “my mind says he loves me

 

Good Hiding

Always be nice, smiling immunises,

learn to engage not giving self away

pan stick apply -maximum coverage minimum effort

drape scarfs to hide bites and hand marks.

 

Long sleeve tops to hide the dents

flat shoes for running

cigarettes and alcohol to sedate

medicate often, sleep a welcome break.

 

Phone is a tag

curfews and monitors

given on conditions

that will not be broken.

 

Loyal bestie number on recall

safe word agreed she knows the score

£10 hid under the bed

driving licence, keepsakes, creep to front door.

 

Stay low,

Dodge,

Weave,

Smile

 

Leave

 

Getting Served

The ice cream van of friendship hits my street,

blasting out  I’m a survivor and I’m on my feet;

she offers me 2 scoops of      it’s time to move on     with an extra sprinkle of

                        you are enough and a flake of                                                        you rock

She delights in throwing the nuts on the

melting

mess

hands on hips                            we got this                         sauce

All aboard.