Kumukanda, its title coming from a Zambian word for ‘initiation’, is a wide-ranging and lyrical debut collection that investigates race, memory and masculinity. From the judges: “intense and compelling and won’t let itself or you the reader get away with anything – witness the sequence ‘calling a spade a spade’ with its challenging, detailed complexities.”


by Kayo Chingonyi

Since I haven’t danced among my fellow initiates,
following a looped processions from woods at the edge
of a village, Tata’s people would think me unfinished – 
a child who never sloughed off the childish estate
to cross the river boys of our tribe must cross
in order to die and come back grown.

I was raised in a strange land, by small increments:
when I bathed my mother the days she was too weak,
when auntie broke the news and I chose a yellow suit
and white shoes to dress my mother’s body,
at the grave-side when the man I almost grew to call
dad, though we both needed a hug, shook my hand.

If my alternate self, who never left, could see me
what would he make of these literary pretensions,
this need to speak with a tongue that isn’t mine?
Would he be strange to me as I to him, frowning 
as he greets me in the language of my father
and my father’s father and my father’s father’s father?

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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Coming up on @BBCWomansHour Radio 4 poet-in-residence, Alice Oswald, reads a new poem specially written for the #SpringEquinox #R4Seasons bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

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We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory. bbc.in/2GMUADo #R4Seasons #SpringEquinox Retweeted by The Poetry Society

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Yes, yes. I am one of the chosen two, with my late, great friend Maya Angelou. Makes me proud, and would make Maya proud too. These things are much better than any awards, or bowing down in a palace and having 'empire' attached to my name. Good luck kids. Power to the pupils. twitter.com/BubblyMaths/st… Retweeted by The Poetry Society