The two poems featured here by the multi-talented Inua Ellams take us through London streets at night. Directions (after Billy Collins’ poem. Please read this before you read Inua’s) is a hand-on-our-shoulder poem, talking to us as a friend familiar with the poet’s home (‘you know the wild bush at the back of the flat/the one that scrapes the kitchen window’).
The poem was written in response to Billy Collins’, closely following his structure, tone, line breaks and mirroring his epiphany. Where Collins’ Directions takes us into the beauty of nature: high up ‘you will eventually come to a long stone/ridge with a border of pine trees/which is as high as you can go’, Inua’s is rooted in a deep urban setting where your journey takes you ‘to a rough rise/of stairs that reach without railings/the run-down roof’. Nature is there but it ‘struggles for soil and water/and fails where the train tracks scar the ground?’ (more…)