He has such a powerful way with words. An innate talent.

Voters responded to the truth of Ofem Ubi’s poem, its simplicity, relatability and finesse; it for these reasons and more that ‘and so it goes…’ is the Ink Sweat & Tears Pick of the month for September 2021.

Ofem Ubi is a poet, photographer and filmmaker, published in the Deep Dreams Anthology of the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize, 2018. He is internationally published and his film Velvet – currently on the IS&T Video ‘channel’ (see our Home Page) – was a selection for the Fringe of Colour film festival, 2021.


and so it goes… by Ofem Ubi

two boys neck-deep in a boiling argument
talking about which album is best
Made In Lagos or A Better Time

a man calls beer the devil’s urine
you do not swallow poison and expect to blossom

a boy regurgitates the faces of exes
ruminating on Celine Dionic times
one more heartbreak and his heart becomes a cold-room

certain foundations turned children into lamp-holders
how many more change-makers do we need?

one boy thinks his life an adaptation of a Nollywood film
doesn’t know which

father turns river to search engine
did you mean: Chijioke
traumatic is the missing of an offspring
till we meet to part no more or not
the lab welcomes another cadaver

girl holds masterclass with friends

lecturing of how a boy’s body is a British accent:
sharp like new born razor
slicing everything it collides with

a writer gets called sachet Shakespeare on Facebook
the bird app is a warfront for a country
Nigeria; sachet hell fire
the synonym for a barbwire


Other voters’ comments included:

He’s a beautiful writer. His way with words, music and the heart IS UNMATCHED. 

[I voted for it because of ] His delivery and fine use of literary devices to deliver the message behind his poetry

This poem helps the mind play with its well-trod patterns of thought, and can even help reroute those patterns by making us see the familiar anew. 

I like the flow here the transition from one imagery to the imagery while maintaining the same flow requires a certain degree of finesse. Excellently executed piece 

It has so much truth in it. 

Ofem’s poem perfectly mirrors an environment I’m familiar with. I love its originality. 

He’s a great mind. He sees different 

Ofem’s poetry resonates with vulnerability as humans and touches my core everytime! 

Its lines are not just poetic but are preachable, relatable and philosophical. I connect deeply with it. 

Ofem Ubi’s and so it goes addresses everyday society including its vices in a way relatable to me 

This wowed me. I just fell in love with this his poem. 

This is because it’s a lovely piece 🤗  

He uses very clear terms and it’s direct, short and beautiful. 

He is a phenomenal artist whose works move all of body, mind and soul; from moving music, to words delivered with the finesse of wine that aged a little too well. 

“A boy regurgitates the faces of exes” That line 

He makes exquisite use of the words     

There’s originality in his poem.   

This poem is a threesome. Simple. Deep. Purposeful. 

Ofem’s work resonates with my soul and takes me back to my days in Nigeria… It perfectly captures the essence of my youth and I loved it 

He killed it! Love it. 

It was this part for me “certain foundations turned children into lamp-holders how many more change-makers do we need”. I love this poem. 

It’s a beautiful piece      

Been following his work for some time now and he’s consistently good. This piece is no different 

I voted for Ofem Ubi because of His creativity in using life stories both in his photography and short documentaries 



In the form of a joke by Jack Emsden
After Steven Wright

I got a humidifier and a dehumidifier
put them in the same room
let them fight it out

now my house is all shiny
a confusion of moisture
finding holes in the walls

I watch the neighbours
cooking eggs thoughtlessly

walk up to strangers and scratch
a penny on their hand
as an act of blood-copper tenderness

I feel like that all the time
marching between the barricades
like a weary insurrectionist

I yearn indecisively
for the furniture to be removed

stepping shameful into the future
we obey only the most facile rules

measuring distance in misunderstandings
piled like the bodies of ants

there’s so much between us
unspoken and loud as a flag

if we’ve failed to communicate meaningfully
it’s because sometimes I’m in parentheses
while you’re italicised like rain

Jack Emsden was shortlisted for the Wolverhampton Literature Festival competition 2021, and was awarded 2nd place prize in the Verve Poetry Press Community competition 2019. He also hosts regular open mic night Poetry at the Beer Café.


And sit with the dark by Helen Evans

In response to Stand in the Light by Elizabeth Rimmer

And sit with the dark, when it comes.
Smell the wax and the wick –
watch its small orange tip
glow brighter then fade into black.
See the ghost of its flame
on your eyelids. Be led
by the flow of your breath.
Feel the pillow behind
and the hard bed beneath you.
Let them support you. Be still.

And sit with the dark and observe
the shapes you don’t see
in the light. Untangle yourself
from your mind and instead
inhabit your gut and your heart.
Listen, and hear the unwanted sound
of a late lorry rumbling past.
Open yourself to a sense of the space
that’s holding you quietly now.
Attend to the silence. Be still.

And sit with the dark and absorb
the force of a longing for light.
Don’t reach for a match – or a switch –
or a gun. Darkness will never
extinguish the light.
This planet rotates.
Daylight will come.
So sit with the darkness. Be still.

Helen Evans runs Inner Room, a project that creates space for people to be creative. Her debut pamphlet, Only by Flying (HappenStance Press, 2015) was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. www.helenevans.co.uk


Here I am, again by Poulami Somanya Ganguly
after John Yau

& the room is cold with its geometry of faces
a child looks through cellophane & imagines an escape

a place moves in time like a needlepoint on water
often it’s hard to tell what’s real from reflection

as a child looks through cellophane & imagines an escape,
time is a crossing of vanished lines in air

often it’s hard to tell reality from reflection
when the faces in the room speak a shadowy language

as time keeps crossing vanished lines in air
& you long for the touch of a different element

the faces in the room speak a shadowy language
like the shape of a key on the dust of the table

you long for the touch of, a different element
something that leaves a trace of itself

like the shape of a key on the dust of the table
or a ladder that casts rungs on the wall

something that left a trace of itself
faces you saw in a photographic negative

a ladder that cast rungs on the wall
an escape route marked by straight lines and shadows

faces you saw in a photographic negative
& the room was cold with its geometry of faces

an escape route marked by straight lines and shadows
moving in time like a needlepoint on water

Poulami Somanya Ganguly reads & writes in a ground-floor apartment in Amsterdam.


I’m pulling my hair out again by Jennie E. Owen

and I worry that this is how the children will remember me.

As balls of tangled fluff, that roll
lazily under the sofa, to snag later in the hoover.  Will they curse me
every time they have to empty the bag?  Take it apart
with scissors, with that old blunt knife from the kitchen?
Will there be enough of it by then to fill the bin,
to stuff a pillow,
a mattress?

I think of it piling up in drifts, behind the door
of every room I’ve ever entered, wafted
down the sides of stairwells, sucked into escalators at Tesco.

(It spells my name in loops under tables in the local library.)

The cat coughs it up theatrically, and I know that there’s a clog
the size of a tumour in the bathroom plug hole.

If they’re lucky, dinner guests might find a portion in their lasagne,
or as the secret ingredient tossed in the salad.  They’ll discreetly push it
to the rim of the plate and say nothing.


And I worry that this is how the children will remember me
as I wrap a strand around my finger
watching as the skin turn to red and then blue.

Jennie E. Owen’s writing has won competitions and has been widely published online, in literary journals and anthologies.  She teaches Creative Writing for The Open University and lives in Lancashire with her husband and three children.


Vaccine by Olivia Tuck

The needle hits the deltoid with a moon-cold urgency;
its jolt of fluid is ice barely thawed. Relax – sharp scratch.
I hold myself against this detergent-white light.

On the journey home, my pupils dilate:
for the first time in months, I can forecast
fruit, seasons away, ripe on the roadside’s empty trees.

Later, my upper arm tender as a windfall apple,
and a strange ache shining through my spine,
the sky ignites with dusk, and with it, I burn

as my lymphocytes rise up to meet me
like a hot air balloon’s surge of fiery breath,
to set me drifting far above the ruins of a country.

Olivia Tuck‘s poetry has appeared in several journals and webzines, and she is soon to begin an MA course in Creative Writing – Poetry at UEA. Her pamphlet Things Only Borderlines Know is published by Black Rabbit Press. She tweets as @livtuckwrites