We are thrilled to present ‘Mixtape 2022: Writers of Colour Audio Anthology’, to celebrate the work produced within the Writers of Colour Writing Group during 2022, led by Hannah Lavery and Marjorie Lotfi.
For the anthology, attendees were invited to submit up to two poems or short prose pieces which were started in group sessions. Contributors then had group mentoring sessions with Hannah before submitting an audio recording of their final poem. Lastly, each poem was given a soundscape, created by sound designer and musical poet, Sarya Wu.
You can listen to the album on Soundcloud or scroll down to listen and access each audio and text. You can also download a PDF of all poems here. The text of each poem is provided for access purposes only. Authors retain full copyright.
2022 Mixtape: Writers of Colour Audio Anthology
- Hannah Lavery
- Andrea Cabrera Luna
- Andrés N. Ordorica
- Anna Cheung
- Anne Coker
- Brenda Vengessa
- Clementine E. Burnley
- Etzali Hernández
- Jeda Pearl
- Jess Brough
- Kashfi Ahmed
- Lesa Ng
- Lubna Kerr
- Myla Cordivae
- Myra Ariyaratnam
- Nadia Maloney
- Niall Moorjani
- Nichelle Santagata
- Shasta Hanif Ali
- Sophie Lau
- Tamzin McDonald
- Wacera Kamonji
- Zoe Lorimer
- Marjorie Lotfi
Marjorie Lofti | @marjorielotfi on both Twitter and Instagram | Website
Audio anthology album playlist
2022 Mixtape: Audio Anthology
That Dawn Chorus
my time is not dawn chorus to night owl time it’s the slow
flowing burn time i live leaf drop time i am slow enough
for moss to grip but i am not to be pitied for my ageing
i am following each thought when was the last time you
thought it through had time to watch a thought of yours grow follow it until it hit a wall or that other thought and that other one from that Othered one followed it until it was changed turned out and in when was the last time you let a thought complete itself undo itself renew itself make a fool of itself run away with itself they are seeds on the wind they are fireflies but they are being collected in bell jars now they gather here, brewing to petrol bombs now your watch tells you you have spent too long here that you must move on from here your watch tells you this but once you played all day in the woods you climbed a tree to hear its stories danced to the rooks cawing in the clearing later you were told that you had been lost for an hour funny the way you believed them they who told you the time they who gave it to you with a wristband it was only an hour they said yet you knew it had been all day you knew it because it was dark but then it was dark and you could no longer find the home of yourself ach my friend when was the last time you followed a story back all the way to the very heart of yourself.
Andrea Cabrera Luna
12 Years of Austerity
She didn’t drown
In her bed
While she slept
Where there was breath
There suddenly wasn’t
The debt of
Tantos sueños sin cumplir
The debt of
La Felicidad que le faltó
She had been
Walking all day
En el voicemail
Got herself a
But no contract yet
No te voy a poder llamar
Hasta el miércoles
Estoy cambiando de teléfono
It was a HOT DAY
It was three days later
That they found her.
Fan still on
Fue una nena hermosa
She was a lovely
In one of them
She had red
Just like her mum’s
No one diagnosed
A veces decía que tenía miedo
Su papá le dijo
Que por qué no ponía
She used black gaffer tape
And cut a long strip
And a short one
Con las manos
And stuck the huge cross
Next to her bed
Tenía dos nombres de pila
Como dos flores
Y pegó cada una de las
Letras de su nombre
Sobre la cabecera
No las pude despegar
She had things
12 years too late
Esperó 12 años
Por fin tuvo su flat
A new flat
A new bed
A new washing
A new fridge
And a glass jar full of coins
She had dreams
Tenía muchos muchos sueños.
Miedo de las voces
Miedo de los que querían hacerle daño
Andrés N. Ordorica
Fourth of July
If I could travel at the speed of light/ I would burn a thousand sparklers/ I would write each letter/ send it to the past so my past self (read younger self) could see/ could read each letter illuminating in the dark/ a thousand times over: I / L / O / these messages from light years ahead: V / E / …I never wrote them for me/ you see/ I wrote them for: Y / O / U / this message spelled in golden streaks will show you/ yes/ you/ how far we’ll go/ just how far light will travel.
Bravery (Yin & Yang)
If a Chinese philosophy app existed
which worked like the Collins dictionary,
but instead of defining words, described words
using the Yin & Yang Principles; the word
bravery, given its traditional definition,
Yin (noun) the quality of someone willing to do difficult
or dangerous things,
would embody Yang
(the male, active principle)
& like the Sun, would catapult outwards;
passionate, direct, hot & bold.
But we are reminded that bravery
can also be Yin (the female, receptive principle)
when it absorbs like the Moon;
listening, inward, cool & soft
Modify your ways, tiresome stranger.
Have you not heard of when in Rome?
Keep your voice low and unheard.
Broaden your distance from my good self.
I need reassurance that I continue to
inhabit the contemptuous composed bubble
my exploitative forebears constructed.
Bantu Opera II
I heard their giggles in the distance
I heard them singing,
I heard their laughter merge with the sound of the ZUPCO bus.
I heard the tapping of the “fish fish” rope on dry earth.
Dust rising into the air,
And the older girls, skirts tucked in,
determined to outdo one another.
The Mothers returning from the markets.
I heard their palms clap in
A joke shared; the pain of a slow day at the stall eased.
I heard the quick patter of feet.
Children disappearing into their homes.
Footballs and skipping ropes abandoned.
Showers taken quickly before Amai’s wrath.
Latecomers arriving to buy fresh veggies from Gogo’s garden
Before dusk’s curfew
I heard the small children squeal with delight and run for their Fathers,
Newspapers in hand.
I heard young lovers sending signals to meet at the tuckshop.
But sadza duty keeps the expectant boy firmly hidden in the hedges.
She will appear, skin glistening, a soft waft of Dawn lotion
and a thick serving of Vaseline on her lips.
I heard my home,
Its sighs, smiles and groans.
I heard it like it was yesterday,
Like time stood still and I was a little girl on these streets, again.
I heard it in my tomorrow.
For this path I travel, leads me back to where my heart has always been.
Clementine E. Burnley
gentle the night leaves
rustle, tender breath
gentle, the breath is held.
gentle she ghosts the highlands
gentle, the night leaves
as nettles grow up over hill scars,
from a stand of dock, she watches curious as
boys lay a perimeter of piss around a canvas tent
later triangle-shaped ears turn
to the sounds
of their small, safe deaths
gentles the night
writing in the wind is like the petals of a dandelion:
soft, light and ever-present.
or like breathing out your fears
and grounding yourself in the now.
or like when you see your reflection in someone’s eyes,
your hands sweaty and your heart skipping a beat.
or like homeland calling you to reach for the sweet secrets
in your lineage and kiss your ancestors hello.
When you come bring your brown
After Ada Limón
set your teeth
grin at the white shore and it’s hunger
froth will pounce on your words
(but only the right words)
built from your grains of dark sand
each one its own story
‘when you come bring your brown’
slips into the rifts between words
‘serve us razor-cut slivers of dark
meat, let us salt it’
they’ll slush and gulp your warm sands
between spume fingers
with the unquenchable thirst
of the white sea
thiefing your sounds your moves, your –
performing cathedrals of salt spray
they don’t trust you anyway, so when you come
bring your brown
choose who you take to your forest, desert, glade, island
we will make our own selection
of long-buried secrets of
shell, bone, gem, glass, mirror
no exotica here
Please don’t wish for wings too soon.
I would forgo a bird’s eye view
to be with you on land forever.
And when the future calls your name,
I would rather hold on to
this nothing new of current splendour.
Put shutters over any foresight
that might turn me from the present,
Please don’t wish for wings too soon.
Can’t we have always, a little longer?
A restless migrant
Tossing and turning
Running in circles that lead
A dark tunnel with no light
A warrior whose anxiety puts her out
A survivor of a soul-sucking
A ticking timer counting down and
Running out of time
A creative perspective might provide
A natural born leader who is taking back
Running to claim her crown
A flat, her haven that keeps
her warm while
A path is being forged
Old year reflections
After ‘Burning the Old Year’ by Naomi Shihab Nye
Forget the sickness.
Remove the shame from the weight gain,
and guilt for another piece of cake.
Have no regrets on what should have been done.
Only the things I did do, will remain.
Remember your health.
Give regard to the gains,
the friendship and laughter over the dinners,
coffee breaks, and another piece of cake.
Think ahead on what could be done.
Celebrate the headlines of your life,
Only the things I did do, will remain.
Love and broken hearted
Love and broken hearted, I dream.
Dream the day when I can love again.
Love and broken hearted is the day I see you in my dreams.
Dreams are when we can be together again.
Love and broken hearted is the pain, the loss of you never to be repeated.
Repeated is the loss, never to dream again.
Across the boundary
Across the bridge
Across the divide
Across the room
Across the escalator
Across the sky
Our eyes do collide, the moment, the spark, the connection.
You and me
Me and you
Just alone, together, a moment.
A moment in time across the boundary of love.
Never to be repeated again.
Erect a minaret of perfect poetry
Drawing borders arched deep grooves
I don’t know where to end up
The right way to exist in this world
How to navigate the channels washing away
The tide and re-drawn
We cannot be re-drawn lighter of these shoulder loads
Invisible threads wind back a scissor
Poised knife sharp waiting to cut
To start again
Reweave reexist repeat
I refresh the buffer wheel waiting to reload
Re-peat and start again
A poem starts and ends again
I will weave my voice through the poised knives and build my tower of restarts
I will suffer through these roads, find you along the way
Until we start again
In another poem
I will build again.
My thumping heart
red to gold to blue
The clash of a cymbal
reverberates through the skin
over my chest,
Ears bleeding liquid gold
Cracks across the great
plain of my body,
As the cymbals gently beat and
shimmer, Hollywood schmaltz and
tremble, blood beating blue
through my darkened veins,
Flood my irises,
Head careens back,
I watched the nightstand sleepily as it changed shape. Sharp edges softening as the dark stained oak faded to a pale brown. The sounds of silence crept to life with a soft lull of music and the rich tones of Nina Simone. “No I ain’t fooleinn / I want some sugar in my bowl”…
I turned and saw you there. Sitting comfortably, the way you did at night. Like you never left. Your head turned downwards. Lips slightly pressed with the book resting gently on your lap. Fingers pressing tightly on the corner of the page. Anticipating …
Your scent no longer lingered but filled me whole. Leaving no room for the grief.
Speechless, I watched you read. Savouring the moment. Before the sky opened up and wrenched your soul from mine. Separate. Alone. I watched your chest rise and fall. Its rhythm simultaneously familiar and strange. I listened to the sound of your breath, escaping your body once again. This time returning, and returning.
You told me it was me who had to change. Me who had to let go. I remember, still. The softness of your voice belied a strength and wisdom. A strength and wisdom you shared with me. A life into a life, you said, as you breathed life into my heavy carcass of broken dreams. And eventually, I accepted. As your love washed over me I came to life in your arms. I saw the world for the first time and all the colours of our nitrogen skies dancing before me. Teasing. You were too beautiful for this world. Too much of a good thing…
I dared not move, lest you disappear from me, again. I lay there frozen, in the vision of you. Frozen in time. A mere breath might turn the world around, steal this moment. I won’t let it.
But you didn’t leave. Your presence solidified and you looked around the room. I sensed a familiar ache in you. It was there in the longing in your eyes before you returned your gaze downwards. Creating an envy in me towards that book, encased in your hands. How I long to feel the caress of those hands again. The warmth of your gaze. Your breath. Your skin. But I reside here in this coldness now. This ever reaching, never ending, coldness.
The sounds of the room faded to black and you were gone. Everything was gone again.
I scramble over the edge,
Surprised to have made it this far,
Arms shake, legs quiver,
With the fear of falling,
I tell myself,
Just because you have never been here before,
Doesn’t mean you can’t be here now,
A few more movements,
Are my feet secure?
What if I fall?
Having come so far?
Will it hurt all the more?
Just go for it.
You have to go for it.
I reach out,
My hand slips over the final hold,
I don’t fall.
A wave of delight sweeps over me.
And rearranges my nerves like the sea rearranges pebbles,
I could squeal with childlike glee.
My first climb of this difficulty.
On the way down,
I surprise myself,
All I can think about,
Is the first time I wore a dress…
Six feet beneath thick mud,
Among cold damp woods which have been
Overgrown and long forgotten.
Harsh rains beat down on me
Every. Single. Day.
It is the ultimate monsoon and ultimate doister
Meeting to weigh me down.
Sinking deeper and deeper.
Lungs crushed- filled of
Mud for too many years to count on my hands.
Almost all strength disappeared from
Constantly digging and
Still nowhere near the surface.
No space to scream out my agonies-
I’ve had enough of barely breathing and
Being left to rot!
Nothing but smidgens of air
Seeping through a thin-holed, straw-like twig
Between my teeth…
Why don’t you hear me?
I finally feel the twig yanked upwards.
Struggling for bits of air.
Yanks become stronger and frequent.
No choice but to follow the yanking twig.
Forging extra strength deep from within my bones to
Crawl and scrape upwards through thick mud with my
Cutting through endless decrepit tree roots-
I keep moving.
Finally reaching the surface and feel
Rain droplets upon my face and hands.
Here I am, half in and half out the ground,
Glimpsing with blurred eyes at a shadow-
A shadow of myself staring me dead in the eyes.
My shadow speaks through a stare to say: ‘There is life up here’.
Staring down at my waist, still deep in mud.
I grit my mud-filled teeth and use my overgrown fingernails
To keep digging my body
Out, out, out!
Pulling the rest of myself out; struggling to find my feet.
Wobbling; whimpering like a newborn, fresh out the womb.
Barely able to see, I step forward. With each foot forward,
Yowls burst with sludges of
Mud gargling out my mouth.
I stumble, muddied, out of the
Cold-dark-damp woods, to a soft flowing
River leading out to Sea in the distance.
Warm Waters enveloping me as the rain dissipates.
The Water shall take time to run clear after
Heaving away thick layers of mud from my organs.
My lungs never to be the same again-
Only to breathe in the directions of new Waters.
I hear myself.
Shasta Hanif Ali
Foreign words roll around her tongue
muscle memory twitching between languages
twisting and looping around syllables
her words flow towards a river
falling, into the open arms of the sea
Can’t you speak English?! they say
Words from an ancient verse
slip through her fingers
nourishing the newly disturbed soil
of a freshly dug grave
You, with your ethnic accent! they say
Her thoughts take shape
in the english, so readily accepted
Her supplications line up
as fraught border checks
and random airport security
Are you fluent in English? they say
When the veil over her head
causes more problems
than the veil over their hearts
How long have you lived here? they say
Her Mother tongue awaits
at the end of a linguistic line
– eventually, she’ll return
to rekindle forgotten words
and a ken ma blether is aw the better fir —
Speak English! they say
sits a snow globe
that’s what the scans show
the vena cava pumps only
opalescent glitter and anti-
pearled souvenirs in pristine chambers
i purchase nostalgia enveloped in cellophane
wild hands shake up a blinding blizzard
pull my wishbone ribs apart
wipe warm blood off frozen scenes
a white sedan parallel parks
three steps from my porch
the driver ploughs into a panic attack
chokes on her father’s spiked fear
frost crunches under my feet
i bring blue knuckles to her window
titanium ring clinking against tinted glass
she winds her window down
hoary light streams from within
her cracked open chest
i watch it turn to
glitter and antifreeze
With and without!
With Ethiopian apple and tamarind smiles,
With vengeful sun and melted tar pits,
with parents and then without and then with again,
with and without love the ultimate paradox,
with white privilege and without,
with white protection and Jamaican dollars,
with gated communities like jewels amongst the poor,
without realising we are all the same,
with travelling in a hot tin bird,
without clothes for the snow,
with private schools but without the grades,
with a fairy-tale, idyllic life,
without seeing the inside rot,
without acknowledgement of my very being,
with arrogance, white fragility and racism,
What Does Cleaning Mean to You?
Blackout at Satellite C84
I reside inside the cavern, subsection 5.
An artificial system replicating a long dead fossil. The designer is long dead too, name forgotten. Along with the petrified organism.
There’s a 6 by 11 space for each worker. Pulsating lights let us know when it’s time to change tasks. The lights never go out.
The lights fade out. There is nothing.
Breath caught in my airways.
I touch my body to check I’m here.
My desk, it’s there.
My tools. One, two, three.
I stand, the ground is still there.
Walking, I reach out to check everything is still there.
We’re in the most formal of my aunt’s rooms,
the one that’s never used, glass tables, no
blankets across the velvet sofas. Each of us
cradles a cup of tea. I smell the dried lime,
saffron and rose of her body, and suddenly I’m
barefoot in her tiny and windowless Tehran kitchen,
‘helping’ her cook by plucking the heads off herbs.
Here, the silk in the carpet cools our feet, the baby
in my belly kicks, unused her mother sitting still.
This silence is about language, the lack of it.
I’m looking for another word for happy or joy –
one finer, subtler than my eight-year-old self
ever knew. She smiles. I set the tulip tea glass down,
held by the edge of its gold rim, to take her hands.
Despite the California heat, they’re as cold
as my own; we were made for these temperatures,
she and I. It is good, she says in her best English,
in the same voice that taught me Farsi, then shakes
her head and tries again: You are very good.
Find out more and connect with the poets…
- Hannah Lavery | Twitter | Website
- Andrea Cabrera Luna | Instagram
- Andrés N. Ordorica | Instagram | Website
- Anna Cheung | Twitter
- Anne Coker
- Brenda Vengessa
- Clementine E. Burnley | Instagram | Website
- Etzali Hernández | Instagram
- Jeda Pearl | Instagram | Twitter | Website
- Jess Brough | Instagram | Website
- Kashfi Ahmed
- Lesa Ng | Instagram | Twitter
- Lubna Kerr | Instagram | Website
- Myla Cordivae | Instagram | Twitter
- Myra Ariyaratnam
- Nadia Maloney | Twitter
- Niall Moorjani | Instagram | Twitter
- Nichelle Santagata | Website
- Shasta Hanif Ali | Twitter
- Sophie Lau
- Tamzin McDonald
- Wacera Kamonji | Instagram
- Zoe Lorimer | Website
- Marjorie Lotfi | Instagram | Twitter | Website
- Sarya Wu (sound design) | Instagram | Soundcloud | Website