One of the most enriching, forward-thinking, fastest-growing online creative communities flourishing right now is the Poetry community, especially in those scenes that center on marginalized voices — Women, POC, Neurodivergent, and LGBTQ. Poetry Spotlight is a feature aiming to showcase the work of some of the most talented creators we’ve discovered making waves on the Internet literary circles, inside or outside the mainstream. In our eighth installment, we focus on the work of Cardiff-based writer Hanan Issa.
Hanan is a mixed-race writer and poet from Wales. She has performed at the Wales Millennium Centre’s International Women’s Day, at numerous events across the UK, as well as on BBC Radio Wales’ Arts Show. She has appeared on both major Muslim TV networks (BMTV and Islam Channel). Her work has been published in Banat Collective, Hedgehog Press, SISTER’s magazine, sister-hood magazine and MuslimGirl.com. Her winning monologue was featured as part of the Bush Theatre’s Hijabi Monologues project in 2017. She is also the co-organiser of Cardiff’s first BAME open mic series entitled ‘Where I’m Coming From’. In May she will be on the judging panel for Warwick university’s ‘Two Chairs’ poetry competition. She is also currently working on a film project in partnership with Film4.
It’s the stopping
by radio buzz.
on your hand.
cars for distraction.
in the back,
leans forward speaking
replies in Arabic
My diversion found,
about her life,
about red shoes
A second glance:
and leans back
and the baby
The cup is the first step.
A delicate teacup suggests high teas, decorated by lace napkins,
and pale gloved fingers
that reach for neatly cut sandwiches,
while the talk slices up an Empire.
A mug of cha to calm the nerves in a crisis is a match’s half-time helping,
that synchronizes switches across the country. But are the builders enjoying their brew aware of the painful past
contained in its dried leaves?
A politely hidden history that traded tea for the poppy. Or that, once in Boston, pouring tea into water stood
for discarding colonial control.
A sorrow infused over time,
seeping bitterness into boiled water.
Although, when mixed with mint,
jasmine, star anise, or cinnamon,
the taste of history is steeped in the present:
a place we all try to infuse with the taste of us. Meticulous ceremonies that celebrate friendship:
“Gentle as life, strong as love, bitter as death”. Chai is poured from on high,
spilling along the Silk Road to Tescos. Merging bitter matcha with sweet shai, soaking into bara brith raisins overnight. Cultures and languages permeate life, weaving through our flow of experience, iridescent in the chaos.
This Would Make Good Material For A Poem
A spider climbed the white fabric, trespassing the dotted lines
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
just like the road signs the talking man had ignored.
He wrote down my name as the spider crept accusingly along his shoulder.
It was seeing the crumpled metal of six cars and the red radiator fluid
spreading thickly under my shoes that stopped me warning him
as the spider reached his neck. A blue light intruded from behind
and the ambulance screamed its presence just as my friend fainted.