There’s £900 to be won in our poetry competition on the theme of ‘Where I’m From’ – open to everyone, nationally and internationally, young and old. Enter here.
In the meantime, why not let us know your favourite poems by someone else on the theme of ‘Where I’m From’ and we’ll publish them here (or an extract if they’re out of copyright). Tell us why you like the poem and a little bit about you too. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To kick off, here’s Jackie Kay’s poem ‘In My Country’ of which Ruth Padel said in The Independent:
“Where do you come from? – is like the line of an old song, suggesting some unspoken answer (say, faeryland, or Hell, or Africa). But the last line shifts us into modern gear. In its understated way, the poem is about the claims of change. Songs have changed, Scotland has changed. It is “my country” too. Claiming the right to “these parts” – to punctuation, identity, capitals, an “honest river” not archaic “waters” of Babylon where exiles once wept – the poet is reminding you that poetry has moved forward, can play with folk form and move out of it, into new shape.”
In my country
walking by the waters
down where an honest river
shakes hands with the sea,
a woman passed round me
in a slow watchful circle
as if I were a superstition;
or the worst dregs of her imagination
so when she finally spoke
her words spliced into bars
of an old wheel. A segment of air.
Where do you come from?
“Here”, I said, “Here. These parts.”
Jackie Kay is Scots Makar and Chancellor of the University of Salford.