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‘I was born’ – in two anthologies

I was born‘ is part of the 2020 Mixtape: Writers of Colour Audio Anthology.

The anthology is curated by Hannah Lavery and published by the Scottish BPOC Writers Network.

It was also shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and published in their 2022 Annual Review of Creative Writing.

Listen to the audio and/or read the text below.

I was born

I was born
After Jameson Fitzpatrick

I was born

and it was political.

I was breastfed and the breastmilk was political.

There was no hot water tap in our flat and that lack – 

that was political. After swim-pool baths, my brown skin was anointed 

and those were political, the bathing and baby oil, and my mother’s white hands.

Soon, I was weaned without meat and that was political.

When I refused to eat vegetables, my grandmother’s mince 

became political. Our new housing association home

felt different, until banana peels rained from windows above, 

along with gobs of spit that were very obviously political.

In my “multicultural” school playground, those stubby white fingers 

pointed in turn, reciting ‘einy meeny miney mo, catch a nipper…’

In school corridors, aged eight, I was groped by an eleven-year-old white boy

and telling them – mum, dad, teachers, all – that was political.

Later, I wore outlandish clothes, injected skanking and wining 

into my dancefloor grooves and, in doing so, claimed back my political. 

When told I couldn’t write by an old white man (my teacher), I

penned songs instead and hill slides of letters. 

I called myself mixed-race and that was political.

Then, off I went, carrying ancestors’ dreams on my back to uni, where the total sum

of us three non-white students had our portfolios on display – the token attractions 

at Open Day. I thought someone like me couldn’t be a Scottish poet. But here I am, 

placing black political ink on this white political page, with my brown hand

that refuses to sleep.

Copyright © Jeda Pearl 2020
Sound design: Copyright © Sarya Wu 

The anthology features 20 other Scottish writers, with incredible sound design for each piece by Sarya Wu.

Access the whole anthology including text on the Scottish BPOC Writers Network website.

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

Aesthetica magazine explores art and culture. Every year they hold a creative writing competition. There is an entry fee but they are one of the few competitions which accepts work that has been published elsewhere.

I decided to enter on a whim. I’d not managed to submit much work in 2021, so it was a very pleasant surprise to be shortlisted and for the poem to find a second home.

If you’re interested, you can buy a digital copy (£8.95) or copy of the physical book (£8.95 plus postage).

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