Forgotten journey of the enslaved Tasia Graham ©

 

 

Reclamations by Momtaza Mehri

No longer child
No longer Monday’s firstborn
No longer carrying the day’s exultations
No longer embraced by broad-leaved belt of forest
No longer at the lush edge of the edge
No longer differentiating birdsong trills
No longer reckless with love
No longer in tiresome need of shade
No longer keeping the tally of gold bracelets
Sliding down an aunt’s delicate wrists
No longer beholden to tall tales peddled by merciless older cousins
No longer kicking heels
No longer approximating flight
No longer in possession of hilly clearing claimed as sovereign playground
No longer in possession of body
No longer laughing while bleeding at the knees
No longer encrusted with a motherland’s red dirt
No longer bypassing chores for rough riot afternoons
No longer forgetting the old songs
No longer having that luxury
No longer attuned to the rupture of spring
No longer long-lashed & unsuspecting
No longer unscathed by canon & caliper
No longer unburdened by the dull weight of philosophy
No longer recognisable to kin
No longer recognisable to self
No longer self, but grasping, huddled, writhing heap of bygones
But no longer

 

Momtaza Mehri is a poet and essayist. Her work has appeared in the likes of Granta, Artforum, The Guardian, BOMB Magazine and The Poetry Review. She is the former Young People’s Laureate for London and columnist-in-residence at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space, as well as a Frontier-Antioch Fellow at Antioch University.

Tasia Graham explores bold, atmospheric, narrative illustration, using her colourful palette and fluid, stylised drawing techniques. Working in both digital format and traditional painting, Tasia explores womanhood, culture, and identity, depicting moods and scenes formed into illustrative storytelling. Tasia draws inspiration from real life experiences and people to create authentic storytelling art.

 

Momtaza Mehri and Tasia Graham were part of the Runaways London Project which was a response by young Black and South Asian poets and artists to classified advertisements seeking enslaved freedom-seekers in newpapers of the 1600 and 1700s. The project was managed by Spread the Word with Ink Sweat & Tears Press as publisher. The historical and research partner was the University of Glasgow’s Runaway Slaves in Britain archive.  The anthology is available to purchase here:

Runaways London

You can find out more about the Runaways Project here: https://www.spreadtheword.org.uk/projects/runaways/

And the context of IS&T’s Jubilee Suite here: Critique, Dissent, and Resistance: A Suite of Poems for the Jubilee.