World Poetry Day: Somewhere / Today by Nadine Aisha Jassat

  16 Mar '21   |  Posted by: Birlinn

A cosmic alignment sees World Poetry Day coincide with the first day of Spring on Sunday 21st March 2021. That said, this week’s poem is a reminder that not every day is a momentous celebration or turning point. Nadine Aisha Jassat‘s perfectly balanced ‘Somewhere / Today’ holds haze, heaviness, yearning, energy and exhilaration in suspension – it sees time and place as both claustrophobically close and terrifyingly infinite. It’s an achievement worthy of celebration.

In a further paradoxical twist, this poem is to be found in spoken-word collective Neu! Reekie!’s third printed anthology, #UntitledThree, edited by Kevin Williamson and Michael Pedersen along with poems by Claire Askew, Daljit Nagra, Dean Atta, Hannah Lavery, Harry Josephine Giles, Jackie Kay, Malachy Tallack, and many more. Spoken-word purists may prefer to scroll down to hear to Nadine read it on stage, courtesy of I am Louds video.

Somewhere / Today
Nadine Aisha Jassat
I scroll Facebook, first, then Twitter.
Refresh Instagram until it tells me
there’s nothing new for me to see.
I’m all caught up. So, I return to my
newsfeed, consider getting out of
bed, reflect that even my rhymes
are turning lazy, as my body sinks
low like a metal I refuse to name,
and my life hovers in the haze.

Somewhere, in this world, a woman
is falling in love for the first time.
She is wondering how she got to be
so lucky, and her heart is so full
in that moment that it forgets
the weight of being lonely, and
rises straight out of her chest.

Somewhere, a group of friends
are having the best night of their
lives. Are screaming it, from the
top of their invincible, inexhaustible
lungs. Are holding on to each other,
as if it will always be this way, their
smiles joined from cheek to cheek
to cheek, like a concertinaed ribbon,
like a celebration parade.

Somewhere, there is an adventurer
paused at the top of their climb,
taking in the view and the road
behind, and saying to themselves;
even if this was my very last day, 
I could go and it would be okay.
I did what I came here to do. My life.
My life.

I have been all of these people, once.
My heart has been high, my smile has
lived in faces other than mine. I
have known the fulfilment which
brings peace enough to accept all
further rest. But today I am only
these heavy hands, unmoving in
a room that feels half immune to
time: me, vs the clock on the wall
which presumes its own pace. Looking
for something, I pick up my phone again.
In its dark reflection, I meet my own
fading face. 

Nadine Aisha Jassat is the author of Let Me Tell You This (404 Ink, 2019), and her work features in It’s Not About the Burqa (Picador, 2020), Nasty Women (404 Ink, 2017), Islands Are But Mountains (Platypus Press, 2019) and more. She was named one of 30 Inspiring Women Under 30 in Scotland, received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers’ Award; and was shortlisted for the Outspoken London Prize for Poetry in Film, and the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2018. She was recently named by Jackie Kay as one of 10 compelling BAME writers working in the UK.

Click for more information about #UntitledThree
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