I wrote this poem in March of this year and it’s about how at school they don’t really teach you to think for yourself. But instead, they teach you how to regurgitate information in a way that allows them to allot a letter (or number) to your usefulness as a person.

And at school I felt like I was in a psychological prison that looked a lot like the dystopian setting from Nineteen Eighty-Four. In a way, I had a room of one’s own, a cage. At least at university, you are pushed to challenge and debate.

The poem takes its name from the Emma Donoghue novel Room which has since been adapted (by Donoghue) to film, with Brie Larson picking up an Oscar for her amazing performance.

School never taught me about CVs.
Only Chris Columbus on American seas.
I wasn’t taught about taxes and arrears.
and that’s only one of my many fears.

They didn’t teach us about politics and voting.
Only about Romeo and Juliet’s secret eloping.
At home I learnt about current affairs and media.
At school they taught us about Iago and Ophelia.

We didn’t study the Atlantic Slave Trade,
Post-war immigration or The Cotton Famine.
Instead, we studied Hitler, the Nazi threat and
how we crippled Germany with the Versailles debt.

I was never taught about policing and laws.
I was taught about 1066 and Viking oars.
I was never taught about my human rights
but I was ferried to Belgian bomb sites.

I know about our Roman straight roads
but very little about the Highway Code.
I learned about volcanic eruptions but not
about democracy or political corruption.

I was taught about Vietnam’s Rolling Thunder
but not about the British Empire’s plunder.
I was told to wear a Poppy for the war dead
but not how to sow with needle and thread.

I was taught about Watson & Crick and DNA
strands, but not capitalism or high street brands.
I was taught how to pray with my hands in a steeple
but never how to converse with human people.

Financial advice? Human rights? Forget about it!
I know nothing about the activities of Wall Street
but I know about the Dreadnought and the arms race.
I know about igneous rocks but I can’t fix a lock.

My generation: manipulated by what media airs and ill-
prepared for the outside world, caring more about celebrity
culture than The Panama Leaks or how money works.
Listening to the soundtracks of our lives like watching fireworks.

Union Day

I wrote this poem not long after the first day of Freshers’ Fair 2017, at which I had a stall promoting The Rumour Quill. However, it’s a mix of my experiences of being a fresher (2016) and looking at new freshers coming in (2017).

Under the marquee’s roof,
a child turns into an adult –
well sixthformers turning into
freshers – pounding the
waterlogged ground like horses
hooves making an imprint.

Ten o’clock, the first batch
meander in, using rucksacks
like loot crates picking up freebies
like food, pins and bracelets and
signing up for societies they
have no intention going to.

And free food and cocktails has made
adults of children. Ready to join
every cult and society: feminism, rugby,
Harry Potter, Rumour Quill.
One o’clock. Peak time, with the shrill of
rhythm and rhyme from loud music as
shrouds of crowds hover like billows of smoke.

Rabbles of students everywhere.
That’s Freshers’ Fair and how every stall
except the niche ones are mobbed with
lost students and smiles.
And how wide aisles are made thin
due to the onslaught of bodies.
A person’s skin meets table.
They touch, a crutch for the arm
and that’s when it’s time to go home.

Three Seasons In Northamptonshire

I wrote this poem one night last October when we had hot, cold and everything in between in a single day. However, it’s the cold at night that I remember the most.

England grins, ridged like Botox, snot runs
marathons along my lip’s crease –
now for a big six down Nasal Valley,
it’s a one-way street – here’s Mr
Vicks, right on time, and the

newsreader says: “one of the coldest days
since The Blitz” as cars bawl like babies on
gritless roads, moving like an octopus on
rollerskates – sprawling figures of eight.
Relax, said

nobody ever, as we’re always pulling
the lever of unpreparedness in the
sluggish seconds, rolled in poundshop
blankets – banquetless on the horizon
of England’s endgame – Miss Winter

has come – sunshine lost,
tossed down her throat,
so now we must keep warm from
her storms that mean us harm.

Sunday League

This is another one of the poems I wrote as a  practice for a workshop on my Creative Writing degree under the designated theme of fire, and it’s based on Fire Season by James Galvin.

He is an American poet and novelist from the state of Illinois, born in Chicago. Much of his work is centred around the realities of the American West.

The Caribbean batsmen are on fire,
burning brazen like Satan’s eyebrows.
Assumingly, the English are still bowling, slinging
Molotov cocktails at them from twenty-odd
yards away. Fine, this isn’t the
Bay of Pigs but the islanders are in the
smokescreen of a big bad superpower.

You got me, I lied.
There are no Molotovs or superpowers.
Perhaps it’s the look of the ball,
appearing like a shuttle burning up on re-entry
or is it the subtle scorch marks on their helmets?
There’s an orange ring around the pitch.
They call it a boundary, and there’s a pavilion
with a bar not far away with a dragon inside.

But that’s beside the point as batsmen
beat the embers back, real hot.
Bowlers scorch the hallowed turf.
Stumps turn to ashes, and
actually, there are no embers or
scorch marks. Just flashes of brilliance
and the smoke from the barbeque.

Last Hearth

This is one of the poems I wrote as a  practice for a workshop on my Creative Writing degree under the designated theme of fire, and it’s based on Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Nye is an American poet of Palestinian and German-Swiss descent. She spent her teenage years in Jerusalem and San Antonio (Texas). Her experiences in growing up in a dual-nationality and dual-culture family has influenced much of her work.

Old messages down the internet haystack:
one-letter replies and niche emojies,
like you’re some kinda millennial
but you were born in 1972.

You threw lots into the flames,
your disease for starters –
when Scleroderma reared its head,
a blue snaking fire of ten years.

You were there and then you weren’t.
No more family stories, no more jokes,
only the ambient sound of the poker.