Young poet

14th April 2000 at 01:00
Bullets by Kafir Omar, 10, Tiverton primary school, Tottenham, north London

One woman was hit about 10 yards from

our car,

Her companion, a young man, came out

of a bar,

When she fell,

He thought she had stumbled,

But he really knew she was dead.

Children had been running away from

the bullets.

One child had a rotten blanket,

Thinking perhaps it might save him from

the bullets.

People have been shot,

And daisies grow over them.

Peter Sansom, TES Friday's guest poetry critic, writes: Hard to write a commentary for this poem: it really speaks for itself, though it gains in poignancy and power if you've read in the covering letter that "some of the children, like Kafir, chose to write about what forced them to leave their home countries".

Then what is most remarkable is the restraint and control: the opening, for instance, which has the factual tone of a news report, and where for context we learn about "our car", the only glimpse we get ofthe narrator.

The first two lines may work like journalism but the rhyme, and thereafter the half-rhyme and repetition - among other devices - ensure that the poem is not just an observation but brings the scene vividly to our senses: more vividly even than the most chilling news footage, and more tender, I think, and more hurt. It takes a good poet to deal with such material so effectively. Kafir Omar is a very good poet.

Kafir Omar receives This Poem Doesn't Rhyme, edited by Gerard Benson (Puffin). Her poem was submitted by Liz tokam. Peter Sansom has published the handbook, Writing Poems, with Bloodaxe. His third Carcanet collection, partly about his Poetry Society Marks and Spencer residency, is published this year. Please send poems, of no more than 20 lines, to Young Poet, TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX The TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, can be ordered by phoning 01454 617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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