For Khadija (poem #25)

Your art speaks to me-
Travels inside my subconscious to create an unknowing smile.
From screen to retina,
From London to Wales
Through life and through death.

You are, still,
A 24 year old communicating to another,
Teaching me that despite the division of these fraught times
We must focus on the colour
And the wrinkles and the lines of the faces we meet,
As stories are made and told
Across cultures,
Forgetting barriers and prejudice formed by accident-
A product of the media and the noise of the past.

You tell me to be angry for what we don’t see-
And to keep our eyes open to possibilities.
To recognise beauty, in all its forms
And to stand up for the cause to help others shine.

Your story is not over-
And neither is mine.
For our art still has hearts to reach
And our voices hold stories we still need to speak.
And I thank you for teaching me this-
From screen to retina,
From London to Wales,
Through life and through death.

****

I’ve written this poem in memory of Khadija Saye, a young artist who is presumed to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire on 14th June 2017, along with at least 78 others.

Over the past month, there has been a great deal of political and social turmoil in the UK. It’s difficult to know how to respond in these times, and I have certainly struggled to write about recent event without sounding cliched or defeatist. Consequently, I haven’t written about them until now, as the news and reality of this particular tragedy begins to sink in.

But I think we need art in times like these-people to speak up and express how they’re feeling in a manner that goes beyond media soundbites and Twitter rumours. For this reason, I’m glad that Khadija’s art is currently on display at Tate Britain, and is also being included in the prestigious Venice Biennale (which she had already been accepted to prior to her death). Her work is beautiful and powerful, and is an incredible legacy for a 24 year old.

I’m even more pleased that a memorial fund is being set up in Khadija’s name to support young artists whose background and circumstance may mean that do not otherwise receive support. If you’d like to give money towards this fund (even if you can only manage a couple of quid!), please donate here:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/khadija-saye-memorial-fund

That’s it for today! I’ll be back soon.

H xx

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