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Digital Poetics #35 King's College London Creative Writing Workshop

Updated: May 6



Work produced as part of a workshop held by Kashif Sharma-Patel and Azad Ashim Sharma


Trà My


Prompt: Write a poem or story about a difficult lesson you had to learn recently.


Today,


I woke up and wrapped my

arms around myself and sang


that song that tells you

everything’s is gonna be alright.


I can’t remember where I scattered my seeds,

but when the rain comes


she will teach them how to grow, and

they will return


to give me shade, towering palm leaves,

in time for tomorrow’s sun.



Trà My is a MA student studying Contemporary Lit at Kings. She is interested in the healing power of writing and is planning to hold workshops with a Buddhist monastery in Hong Kong, and would love for you to attend.



Karen Downs-Barton


Prompt: Write about your earliest memory.


Arriving at the Home for Crying Children: Decolonising My Earliest Memory


(ring the correct answer)


I arrived at my first local authority institution

  1. In a police car, like shrinking to ride in a toy car.

  2. With a frowning social worker holding my life in files of papers.

  3. I don’t remember that stuff. I slough all memories too heavy to carry.

  4. In the creaks of the Cutty Sark before it burnt like a Viking long boat.


My little sister was

  1. With my mother in our vardo, like a house on wheels.

  2. In the policeman’s arms, flapping her arms like wings.

  3. Held by the social worker who’d called her a gypo.

  4. Stuck to me like a conjoined twin, toothless smiling like Kallo Dant.


My sister was making noises like

  1. A strangled squab.

  2. A mewling kitten.

  3. An old man’s breathing at the end of days.

  4. Leaves in a storm as she wheezed through snot.


I wasn’t holding anyone’s hand because

  1. They were strangers and I didn’t trust them.

  2. I was holding a carrier bag of our clothes.

  3. I’d been sick in the car and my hands were acrid.

  4. I couldn’t decide which of my six blue arms to offer.


I contemplated running away by

  1. Stealing the police car, following the route back to our camp.

  2. Grabbing my sister and running, though I knew she’d be heavy.

  3. Waiting till nightfall, slithering out of a crank of a window.

  4. Transforming into a pigeon, skin itching with growing feathers.


I had to get home because

  1. My mother was mind-lost and needed looking after her.

  2. If my kinfolk were moved-on, I couldn’t find them again.

  3. I was scared of brick buildings, needed the rock of caravans.

  4. My tongue tangled in the gadje language and fumbled with living English.


Inside the House for Crying Children, we were met by

  1. Nurses, although no one was ill.

  2. More policemen as they come in flocks.

  3. Children who stared and had lost their happy.

  4. A blue uniformed embodiment of Martiya the night spirit.


The people in there

  1. Smelt of TCP and reassuringly kept my sister with me.

  2. Stole my sister away although she was yelling.

  3. Told me crying is for babies.

  4. Gave me a cupcake laced with sugar and superpowers.


The room my sister was taken to was

  1. Called ‘Hatchlings’, French windows lighting the rows of cots.

  2. Down winding steps where a nurse chain-smoked cigarettes.

  3. Visible through windows by older kids playing in the grounds.

  4. A nightmare of crying, echoes reverberating throughout the building.


I was told

  1. To say goodbye to the nice policeman.

  2. I ought to feel grateful to be given this new home.

  3. If you’re good your mother can visit. Soon. Very soon.

  4. ‘Keep out of the sun, foster parents won’t take kids with dark skin.’



Olive Franklin


The prompt used was: Write a poem or story expressing gratitude to your favourite book.


Yoshimoto’s Kitchen


Again, I stand in your kitchen

which is not a real kitchen, which is complete fiction


and make tea. Leaning over a dream


of a sink, hands under the water

that will, like ink, draw the plants


to breath. Sencha


and katsudon smog the room. Cut

flowers blink like traffic lights.


When your fingers drop


mine I will step back to a midnight

bus home from my mothers


or the windowless stairwell outside our flat


where I hide

beneath the dizzying LEDs


to glimpse over the balcony


of your pages back

to the untouchable blue lights of Tokyo.



Olive is a third year English student. She is Theatre Editor for STRAND magazine and runs an LGBT+ women’s poetry group. Currently, she mainly writes about language/silence, sexuality and angry women. Her poetry has been published by Satyrica and The Poetry Society.



Leyla Mehmet


Writing prompt: Write a story about your name. How did you get it? Why did your parents choose it? I have adapted this prompt to be more of a poem instead of story.


Leyla, More Than a Name


Leyla,

Meaning born at night.

Leyla,

Links me to my Turkish Cypriot side,

Leyla.


“As soon as I saw you,

I knew you were a Leyla”

Is what my mum always says

Whenever she talks about my name,

Leyla.


That wasn’t the name she had planned for me,

Ah no,

I was going to be called Shantelle.

But then she looked into my big brown eyes,

And knew I was a Leyla.

Leyla.


My parents wanted me to have a Turkish name,

Just like my sister and brother.

I am pleased they did,

Because it links me to a side,

That can sometimes feel inaccessible,

Out of reach.

Leyla.


“Do you know the language?”

No, I can only say hello,

And good day,

Oh, and a few numbers,

But my name is,

Leyla.


L E Y L A,

NOT L A Y L A,

Or L E I L A.

The spelling is intentional,

Please don’t make me feel,

Like it’s a mistake.

Please don’t make my name,

Not sound Turkish.

Remember it’s

Leyla.


My name,

Not only marks my identity.

My name,

Is a marker of a culture,

That is a part of me,

And for that,

I love it.


Leyla.



Lauren Mappledoram


When I Met Myself



The first thing I saw was a mirror – I watched my tiny body moving

in reverse and eyed my tottering steps, back when walking was a

novelty. I know I came close, until my breath erased my face,

leaving just my eyes, undecided if they were green or grey or blue.

Maybe I pulled a silly face, stretched my mouth and giggled,

because I was alone – or traced the outline of my mother and the

man whose face I can’t remember. I was learning that my body’s

fluid feeling had a shape, with edges like the mirror that can’t be

trusted – I could twist my features like clay and make it tell lies.

Mother told me not to touch it – I couldn’t help my hand reaching

for its mirrored twin, to see if she felt warm, but she wobbled

and collapsed on top of me. I could hear my mother’s hurried steps,

her laughing and all I saw was my own unflinching stare.





The first thing I saw was a mirror –

I watched my tiny body moving in reverse

my tottering steps, when walking was a novelty.


I know I stepped close until my breath erased my face,

leaving just my eyes, undecided if they were green or grey or blue.

Maybe I pulled a silly face, stretched my mouth,

giggled, because I was alone

or traced the outline of my mother, or the man

whose face I can’t remember.


I was learning that my body’s fluid feeling had a shape,

with edges like the mirror that can’t be trusted –

I could twist my features like clay and make it tell lies.


Mother told me not to touch it – I couldn’t help my hand reaching

for its mirrored twin, to see if she felt warm,

but she toppled and collapsed on top of me.

I could hear my mother’s hurried steps, her laughing

and all I saw was my own unflinching stare.



Ana Bottle


Prompt: Write a story about your name. How did you get it? Why did your parents choose it?


My Name by Ana Bottle


Before there was me, there was my sister’s doll.

It’s weird coming into the world with itty-bitty shoes to fill.

But then again, I didn’t get to choose.


I shared my name with a doll and

came into a world of comparisons

When I was born with a mole on my leg;

My sister had one drawn on her doll

When I had that mole removed

We discovered the marker she used

Was waterproof


Eventually, the doll became mine

And I changed her name

I called her Cherry, because I liked the fruit

Especially the ones that come in a syrup

I prayed my mom wouldn’t get pregnant again

Because I didn’t want to lose authorial rights

Over that name


Now, I don’t even use that name

The vowels don’t roll off the tongues

Of English speakers

And I hate how it sounds

So I shorten it

And take what I can get


My only mode of resistance

Is insisting that

I write Ana with one ‘n’


My name is Ana Bottle, I’m 21 and I live in London. Originally from Mexico, I came to the UK to study English at King’s College London. Alongside reading and writing, I like making things – from baked goods to dresses – and I post everything on my Instagram: @anamakesthings_




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