Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2023: A Boy is a corpse alive in past tense

I came to this world covered in blood.
And I am scared that someday I would leave it this way.
The nurse who pulled me out at birth said I did not cry, said I came out this way: fist clenched like I was holding a rifle, legs kicking like I was fighting for my life.

On this side of purgatory, boys become foot soldiers before learning how to take their first,
Learn to play dead by instinct before knowing that this world is a stage
On this side of purgatory, there is only one way to bury a dead boy:
We place an apple in his mouth so we don’t get to say ‘Another one bites the dust’.

If you get to meet God before me,
Ask him why he no longer makes new boys,
Ask him why you are the bloodshed of so many boys poured back into veins and skins and given new names.
2 pints of Emmet till, 2 pints of Chijioke Iloanya, 2 pints of Jesse Washington
At Aluu, The fourth man burnt too at Aluu.

Our mothers will tell you: it is easier to raise a living son to an adult than a dead one from the dead, so much easier for six men to raise a child than for an entire village, to carve out metaphors on paper than to dig new graves.

There are bodies buried deep within this poem, my mouth becomes an open grave every time I’ve had to read them to you. To be a boy is to be a corpse in past tense.
On days like this, My stage fright is my best performance,
I have inhaled to much hell into these lungs to spit any fire on stage Tonight.

And Every night, when I go home after a performance,
my mother would always ask me why my shirt is soaked in sweat.
She is too colour blind to notice I came home covered in Blood.

Poetry Archive Now Wordview 2023 Winners

Poetry Archive Now! was established in 2020 to enable us to gather recordings from a much wider pool of talented poets from the UK and ...

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David Odiase

David Odiase is a poet, performer, who, through poetry, performance art, film, and experimental forms, shares conscious stories, seeks to rectify biases, and offer fresh perspectives about Africa. His works have been screened at film festivals. He actively engages in community-centred Advocacy through art.

He has shared his craft on platforms such as Živa književnost in Slovenia and is the recipient of the Ekonke African Storytellers’ Prize.


A special thank you to our WordView 2023 poets.

Here's what our PAN Wordview 2023 judges have to say about this year's competition. Robert Seatter, says "ever a joy and a privilege to co-judge the Poetry Archive Now annual competition, tapping into a pulse of thought and feeling from around the globe, condensed into intensely crafted poems. The entries came from all continents, covered myriad themes, spoke in different voices, but all shared a fundamental belief in the power of poetry to speak from the soul."

Courtney Conrad says "the poets who participated in this competition reminded us that poetry is a tool for change, a medium for reflection, and a source of inspiration. These poets have left an indelible mark on me and the world, and I can't wait to see how their words continue to shape our collective consciousness in the future."

Merrie Joy Williams says "The Poetry Archive is such an indispensable resource - the idea that a poem read in a poet’s own voice can outlast those seemingly endless moments tinkering until a poem feels right, or at least robust enough to convey a memory or insight - so exploring these entries was a privilege and joy. Selecting a final twenty was tortuous. So many captured the spirit of these times, when so many things are at risk of erosion or at a critical juncture: the environment, the misuse of AI, truthfulness, the modus operandi of those who run our countries, and issues of social justice and humanity. Others captured personal moments of reckoning in bold and intimate and surprising ways. Somehow we’ve managed to narrow them down and here we have, I think, a wide range of voices and approaches, personal and political, national and international, witty and wise, often proving that these dialectic notions are one and the same."

See the collectionWatch the full Wordview 2023 playlist