My first poem to celebrate the extraordinary courage and life of Khadija Ismayilova, to just evidence her immense commitment to her profession and a fundamental notion of truthfulness. You can read more about her case on my English PEN dedicated page, which has my blog on curating the English PEN Modern Literature Festival too (which takes place April 2nd). In the meantime, my poem, the Club, and beautiful filmpoem generously made by Joshua Alexander, which features the poem.
The Club for Khadija Ismayilova
To be too loud like a bulletclub that cannot touch us. Keep quiet.
They are like snakes, beasts, gorillas – masters.
Very brave, at the top of the trees, but a matter of death and life on the jungle floor.
That is just how it is – surround, surrender, our family - livers swelled, keeping us afloat.
Where we sleep, we’re the same. Where we sleep, you may sleep too,
benefiting the world, a world war bonus. Secret trade of arms, you will receive what is given.
There is light beyond the end of tunnel. That is the soundtrack of cloth burning,
but the light that creates, but the smell it causes,
one fades quietly, the other stays in the curtains,
but the letters that stand, that will stay
but the fear, but the fog, solid
but the washing of resources, people, stamps, houses in Hampstead,
which is bearable, is possible, to know
something more than nothing, spraying on the free.
I need not money, but people.
Knowing, the young, hungry hanging, I want you to return here
to see you come back, without the top of boots and bottom of swords.
A low level pedestal,
towering above us, sleeping through.
Something in sense has happened. Give us papers, allow her in.
I can’t imagine the place, and it being strange as storage,
as a future contribution against nations doing terrible things.
Always later than is thought, food as manners, love as club,
parents as the waiting good, courage as the hospitality
to further good that deserves gratitude
and means something.
Joshua is an immense talent, he said of the film: "My immediate idea was to film light prisms in broken glass and water with my camera obscura, extremely up-close so it was abstract and claustrophobic. The idea was to create a feeling of thoughts/memories... and when the poem starts it becomes very still so the words have space. The introduction of birds towards the end is intended as peculiar, but I hope it brings about a feeling of hope, as the piece begins in darkness."