The Nomads Of Culture

Much alike to my task of writing response poems to those on Channel 4, I did the same thing with ‘Voices: Nationwide’, including Building a Building Society (about the founding of Nationwide) by Jo Bell. I wrote this poem not long after I had exited a confrontation with an internet troll on Twitter but it’s about more than just my hurt pride.

The Nomads of Culture is about not only the Millennial Generation but also how the next world conflict will not only be fought with guns, but also via the internet by people as skilled as Edward Snowden.

The Millennial story side of the poem is inspired from a book edited by Malorie Blackman. Unheard Voices is an anthology book of short stories, extracts and poetry on the theme of slavery, including works from Alex Haley, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard and Olaudah Equiano to name a few.

Other influences for this poem come from Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke, Disney-Pixar’s WALL-E and my own observations of contemporary culture.


A digital world, Planet Earth 2017 –
an archive of facts, stacked together, coveted
like sentimental candyfloss.
We’d rather vex text than move our
mouths – the battlefield is online, like slaves
confined to a screen and

t’have a home, you gotta be suited and booted
with change polluted pockets, if you’re lucky,
but nine t’five shifts at Kentucky will do.
Fortune favours the fortunate 
wading through Twitter’s trenches, allied
with a 140-character shield-wall, sailing down

rivers of tweets duelling with social spiders –
those eight-fingered button beaters, who have boxing
gloves for thumbs, pummelling their As to zeds
until the ring of the knockout bell.
Ding! Ding!

Walter

I wrote this poem specifically for a performance at Northants Black History Association. Focusing on local history, I decided to write a poem about Walter Tull.

Walter Tull was a footballer who played for Tottenham Hospurs and Northampton Cobblers. He was also a soldier during The First World War, being the first Black British-born man to reach the rank of officer in the British Army.  His father was from Barbados and his mother was a Kentish white woman. Tull’s grandfather was a slave and Walter was killed in 1918.

My poem, Walter, is based on Mulatto by American poet Langston Hughes and on Checking Out Me History by John Agard. Both poets are known for critiquing and discussing racial politics and culture in their work.


I am like you white man, British!

European dusk
in a graveyard nation.

“You’re not British.
Just a yellow bastard!”
Like Hell!

Walter Tull. His grandfather, a slave.
His father, black, his mother, white
footballer turned soldier
in Footballer’s Battalion
and first Black British-born
man to lead white men
to fight in battle. 

White moon over No Man’s Land.
French frosty night,
full of stars,
massive yellow stars.

What’s war but a game?
Bodies of flesh
and bone.
White, blue, brown and black
men blown to bits.

Tull signed at Tottenham in 1909, making him the first black player in English top tier football 
(Walter Tull, edition.cnn.com)

The scent of rotting flesh stings the night air.
“Who are your parents?” a voice asks.
And there Walter lingers in his mixed-race mask.

Another yellow sunrise.
Half of a yellow sun
and his comrades drop one by one.

From Barbados, his father
travelled far and Walter to war.
He volunteered to go,
trading football for France’s
bombs, bullets and bayonets.

The French sky is full of stars.
Massive yellow stars as light as
the dawn, showing these white
men he was no pawn.

To them he was nothing but a toy.
A yellow bastard boy.
He went out into the night, showed
the English how to fight.

The SlaveTrade was a rotten business that even the descendants of slaves today are affected by
(The Triangular Trade, BBC Bitesize)

Walter, forward-thinking
black man of big ambitions
moving boulders over white river
rapids to freedom street.

And when he died in Spring 1918,
stars were seen dancing through the air.

A British night,
a British joy.
I am British white man!
Yes, a man, not a bastard boy.