In 2011, IS&T publisher Kate Birch established the The Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship (MA) at the University of East Anglia (UEA); Konstantin Nicholas Rega is its ninth recipient. Memoona Zahid is the second student to be awarded The Birch Family Scholarship set up to support UK-based poetry MA students from the BAME community. Both Memoona and Konstantin read at the Norwich Café Writers spoken word night last November.
daylight savings happens every year
but this year everything is making me cry.
frank o’hara and his mouth full of suns,
doughy snow, autumn and pop song
sadness. a side effect of the crying:
my period is late, anyways, does it matter
at all? i wonder about our affinity to
using the placing of stars
in the sky as justification for our softer hearts
but tonight, i looked out of the window
and it was all fireworks and gunpowder.
our air is made up of mostly nitrogen –
but we could inhale so much
and our lungs wouldn’t know
until death became the side
effect of too much nitrogen and anyways
isn’t death the side effect of everything?
we are so often afraid of the dark we stop
time with our own hands,
use sun power from frank o’hara’s mouth
to put everything to a standstill. okay
maybe it isn’t like that, after all
someone would’ve noticed
the nitrogen in our lungs and we would’ve
saved one another from the darkness, right?
october is the month for placing suns in
mouths, so here i am
Memoona Zahid was born and raised in London and recently graduated from Goldsmiths with a degree in English with Creative Writing. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at UEA where she has been awarded the Birch Family Scholarship. Her poetry interrogates identity and selfhood, alongside femininity and culture. You can follow her on Twitter @memoonawrites. humanunderwater.wordpress.com
She Stays in Winter
The road to — is mucky
soiling snowfall. Like blood jelly
spring gives black, blank stirs.
The road to — begins to green
sprouting snatches. Soon red fuzz will
spin a babushka’s pattern of poppies.
The road to — longs for autumn
our poets’ singing. Darker clearings
dirty the last expanse of opal snows.
The road to — remembers me
oozing out footprints, to keep as fossils.
I carry painted eggs and painted wounds.
This road leading to —
has taken my mother and hers
before. Our sores dressed in furs.
On this road to the city of —
clouds colored as a healing bruise
recall festival flags I shall soon see.
The road, waterlogged with tar-
like slush under rosy clouds
imprinting my steps and my
basket of eggs and winter wounds,
takes travelers to invisible Kitezh.
How long have I beaten this path,
booted feet weighed down
by boreal chills and frosted zephyrs?
A season soaked with ancient gold
sparking the crystalline walkways
to an incongruous flow of blushing fire
(my father’s face comes just now:
cold touching as if to burn
the milk of his curdled flesh).
It is usually mother who flees
at springtime to distant markets,
her works famous from Siberia
to the Baltic coast. Yet she stays in winter with
the Mystic Rose and my untidy rosemary.
Going past the sacred forest, for its
holy hoard of white Taimyr reindeers, I
try to decipher their pale
hides amongst dusky trunks.
As my own skin camouflages sick sores,
the forest belt of birch keeps theirs
as feet and hooves hurry on mushy sprigs
fallen from shaggy coniferous breeds
fencing the Vladimirka road to Kitezh.
You see, Easter is not the only expected guest,
however this one remains in its earthen folds—
stygian loam acting as lush furs holding,
coveting a being lost in birthing.
My sestrichka reminded me
how to pack the pysanka just so
even though it was me mama taught
me mama made sit with needle—
as the egg’s essence drained.
Rooks have returned to wreath
birches in bucolic leftovers,
nests soon swelling boughs:
harbinger of spring’s emerald stench.
The road to Kitezh hosts cornflowers
dispelling winter’s net in blue bouquets
that haunt the earth’s bed—
seeds never frost-suppressed,
as with wounds, they come again.
Mystic Rose: another name for the Virgin Mary
Born in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Konstantin Nicholas Rega currently attends East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing (with the Ink, Sweat and Tears Scholarship and the UEA Music Centre Award). He has been published by www.jonimitchell.com, Mikrokosmos Journal, The Claremont Review, Minetta Review, The White Wall Review, and has won the ZO Magazine Silver Prize for Poetry, and currently writes a Jazz Column for Into the Void, and he is a Poetry Reader for GASHER and a contributor to Treblezine. He has read at DATABLEEDER I and the National Centre for Writing’s UEA Live. neomodernkonstantin.weebly.com