Lesh Karan: ‘(Ir)responsible memories’

Lesh Karan reading ‘(Ir)responsible memories’

nine years old
potato curry
an egg cracked in
carbs upon carbs

ten years old
bus   walk   siblings
to school
from school
swimming day
sleep   drool
pooling in lap
seeping home
library   rain
of penalty
hill   cousins
bee stings
तुम बड़ी है
a goody-two-shoes
with adults’ duties

thirteen years old
in heels
paternal fear
हाथ पैर काट के
room में बन्द

one claims
one denies
both there
neither present
memories fly
fragments stitched
in my fabric 

Transliteration and Translation

तुम बड़ी है /tum badi hein: You are the eldest 
हाथ पैर काट केhaath pair kaat ke: sever limbs
room में बन्द / room mein band: lock in room

Lesh Karan is a former pharmacist turned writer and recent poet. She is Fiji Indian and immigrated to Australia over 30 years ago. Lesh happily calls Melbourne home. Her website is leshkaran.com.

Kaya Lattimore: ‘dagat’

Kaya Lattimore reading ‘dagat’

my first language is water
– dagat
                           my chin
       asin on skin with no
       wound makes no

i hear my name
for the first time:
some say verb, say
                 kaya mo ‘yan

       i sing hymns
                 say a prayer
stay out of the sun
       salt and sweat
                 guzzle tubig
tapak on echoes and ruins

mixed girl talks with
       an accent
       a rusty tongue in
                 the past tense
until malamig na
       ang silence

but the translations
       make no sense
i leave myself
pahinga muna sa hangin
walang wika
       save this slanging

every language turns to lupa
       back to langit or
       each salita
maalat sa dila
i am
       what i speak
and this dagat runs


dagat: ocean
asin: salt
kaya: to be able
kayang kaya; kakayanin: (as above, but with greater emphasis)
kinaya: past tense of kaya
kaya mo ‘yan: you can do it
tubig: water
tapak: to tread, to step on
malamig: cold
pahinga muna sa hangin: rest a bit in the breeze
walang wika: no language
lupa: earth, soil
langit: sky, heaven
kaluluwa: soul
salita: word/s
maalat sa dila: salty on the tongue

Kaya Lattimore is a Filipina-Australian writer and spoken word poet. As a mestiza and immigrant, her writing obsessions include diaspora, family histories, racial identity, and language. She writes to express, explore and reclaim all facets of her identity and lived experience. Kaya’s poetry has appeared in The Brown Orient, Cicerone Journal, be:longing, and Not Very Quiet.Read more at her blog or follow her on Facebook

Introduction to AMWP Issue 2

I was both moved and delighted by the response to the first issue of the AMWP and I don’t think it an exaggeration to say that our readers are some of the most generous on the internet. Thank you for the emails, the messages and the tweets (and re-tweets!) and for being willing to sit with what must no doubt have seemed somewhat strange.

In its second iteration, the AMWP continues to showcase writers who play with language in exciting and innovative ways. AMWP 2 features writing in thirteen languages drawn from all over the world. Each poem is accompanied by an audio recording so that readers may once again immerse themselves in the unique soundscapes that each of these poets creates.

Borders feature heavily in this issue, spanning the ideological borders imposed by colonisation or self-imposed by prescriptivism, the literal borders created by war, the physical borders of distance and time, and even the borders that separate versions of a language from each other. There is an overarching theme of loss and alienation from culture and language, of having to fight to reclaim language and culture on the one hand and of learning to live with always being one step removed from them – a visitor in one’s own family – on the other.

But learning (or re-learning) language necessarily leaves room for happy accidents and surprising connections. This is most obviously reflected in the more playful poems included in this issue, but all the poems here are a demonstration of the relationships with culture and language that persist despite the barriers put up against them.

This issue would not have been possible without the fantastic network of multilingual artists, writers, and readers who contributed their time and expertise to the project once again. Thank you, Ameel Zia Khan, Aydée Bigaton Medina da Cunha, C.B. Mako, Jasmeet Sahi, Sameena Ali Jaffery, and Vanessa Giron for your generous advice and assistance.

-Nadia Niaz