Young Poet

3rd July 1998 at 01:00
Charles Sekwalor's poem is taken from an anthology of work by pupils from Isleworth and Syon School, Middlesex, after spending World Book Day working with the poets Matthew Sweeney and Jo Shapcott.

I particularly like the sinister fairy-tale rhymes and the surprise of "Those eyes!" The images are so strange and disjointed they could almost be the remnants of a lost civilisation or belief system.

It looks as if this poem sprang from a writing exercise described in "Teach Yourself Writing Poetry" by Matthew Sweeney and John Hartley Williams (Hodder Stoughton, 1997). Taking the Slovenian poet Tomay* Salamun's "Who is Who" as a starting point (Tomay* Salamun you are a geniusyou are wonderful you are a joy to beholdyou are great you are a giant), they suggest stepping outside self-consciousness and into "wild hyberbolic territory". What's the point of poetry if we can't break out of our everyday language and feast on our own grotesque?

Charles Sekwalor is a Monster

He is a dark toe rag as dark as a stomach's inside.

His hands are as dried as a carrier bag that's been used over and over again. Those eyes!

He has eyes that burn in the reflection of the sun.

Charles Sekwalor is a monster that crawls on his long sharp nails.

He likes to bite off his fingers which appear and reappear.

He will retire for the day and stop off at McDonald's with human roast clinging to his hair.

He will submerge himself in the sea.

Whether he has learnt this or it runs in the blood he will wash his hands before a feast.

Charles Sekwalor

Charles Sekwalor, aged 14, receives the Poetry Society Young Poetry Pack. Submitted by Paul McLoughlin of Isleworth and Syon School, Middlesex, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send students' poems to 'The TES', Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Sian Hughes was a winner in the TLSPoems on the Underground competition in 1996, since when her poems have appeared in 'The North', 'Writing Women' and 'London Magazine'. A short collection, 'Saltpetre', was published by SmithDoorstop Books in May.

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