Celebrate Wha?

Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands by Eric Doumerc, Roy McFarlane

Celebrate Wha? is a book of many voices. It is a book of questions and answers. It is an anthology of poems about identity and race, curried goat 'n' rice. Dreadlock Alien, Sue Brown, Marcia Calame, Evoke, Martin Glynn, Michelle Hubbard, Kokumo, Roy McFarlane, Chester Morrison and Moqapi Selassie explore what it means to be black and British and from the West Midlands. This is the English language in a Caribbean coat, Auden in a Creole accent, writing with a reggae rhythm. Celebrate Wha? is poetry as Wordsworth said it should be – 'the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings'. Mixing dub, grime and performance poetry, anger and laughter, politics and music, these ten poets know what they want to say and know how to say it.

Sample Poems

Celebrate Wha? by Moqapi Selassie

for the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade in 1807 (after which it was illegal to trade in slaves, although perfectly legal to own them)
Celebrate wha
di abolishan
ov slayvree
afta mi nu mad
afta mi nu krayzee.
Celebrate wha
di abolishan
ov slayvree.
As far as I kyan see
Afrikanz still nu free

I will not be defined
by your
babilownian terms
or be infected by your laboratory–designed germs.
I free I mind
rom your intellectual captivity,
your psychological
chicanery,
your political skulduggery.
I will not be bound
by your negative word sound.

I am NO SLAVE.
I have been ENSLAVED.
I was a PRISONER OF WAR,
captured and taken
far, far, far, far away
from where I iriginate:
AFRIKA,
to work and buil,
work and build,
work and build,

and forced to create
your brutal
vicious
unfair state.
For I
I planned and executed
I escape
dats why I can state


I am not your stereotype
I don't believe
your hype
dat in March 1807
the BRUTISH opened the gates of heaven and set InI
foreparents free and abolished slayvree
I for one will not be
celebrating DAT bicentenary,
when InI enslavers
still cannot say
dat magic word:
SORRY,
and after 500 years
of subjugation
brutality, raping
killing pillage
and depravity,
THOSE EUROPEAN
NATIONS
still can't utter one word of apology
when everyone can see InI peoples reality
(ah wah dem tek dis ting fa?)
still can't utter one word of apology
when everyone can see InI peoples reality
(ah wah dem tek dis ting fa?)

I will not be writing eulogies for Wilberforce
or Granville Sharpe,
who you claim forced you to have a change of heart
but instead I will utter righteous phrases and chant praises
for ones like
Haile Selassie I
Marcus Garvey
Paul Bogle
George William Gordon
Grani Nanny
Sam Sharpe
Tacko
Boukman
Touissant L'Ouverture
Dessalines, Christophe
Harriet Tubman
Queen Nzinga
Yaa Asantewaa
Ya Kimpa Vita
Kwame Nkrumah
Amilcar Cabral
Malcolm X
Zumbi
Martin Luther King Junior , Nelson Mandela
and the countless nameless millions whose names never made it
HISTORY
OURSTORY

CELEBRATE WHA!!!

Speak English by Marcia Calame

'Speak English Woman!'
The Queen's English you mean?
Where the 'W' lies steadfast
Emphasised
And heightened in the speech
When I speak?

'She speaks English. Is she British?'

Like a porcelain bread and butter dish
Yorkshire pudding
A slice a beef with lashings of gravy type British?
Perhaps you wish
Me to present my airs and graces

'No need to be angry.'

Then maybe you just think I'm Brutish
I'm not angry
Just hungry

Dis is how mi tark
Fa yu understan' mi wen mi tark like dis

Though nothing English bout my Goat n Rice
Nothing English bout my Rack of Spice
Nothing English bout my bounce when I walk

But dis is how mi wark
Fa yu understan' wen mi wark like dis

English has now become a word of wandering
Perhaps a word of wanting
Maybe needing
Because you understand what you are reading

My character is not part time
A moment in time
Or a pastime
I speak English
A Callaloo and Saltfish type British
Though I may not be the full English
I am real
So here's the deal
Perhaps one day, you and I can sit and together we can eat out
   the same dish

A Black Man in Wolverhampton by Roy McFarlane

I've always wondered why Black people
Came to Wolverhampton,
That place just off the M6
In the middle of nowhere.

Queen Victoria called it the Black Country,
Black Country! Black people!
Where else would we go?

It's the place of the 'Yam, Yam'.
Well Black people nyam yam,
Sweet potatoes and tings.

Yow spake funny, 'yam bostin'.
We felt at home with people
Who couldn't speak the Queen's English.

The black and gold of the Wolves
And myths of streets paved with gold
Only to find Blacks and Irish on Waterloo Road.

Migration is nothing new, just ask the Manders
Those bloody foreigners
Who moved across the Welsh border.

So why did Enoch speak of forebode?
River Tiber foaming with much blood
When racism had already spilt our blood

And look at the bronze Lady Wulfruna
Like the statue of liberty
Welcoming the poor and the needy

Instead they were welcomed with closed doors,
Cold looks and biting words
In a bitter climate.

I've always wondered why Black people
Came to Wolverhampton
That place just off the M6
In the middle of nowhere.

Out of the darkness cometh light


Roy McFarlane

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